Having trouble with memory can be a scary thing. Thankfully, not all memory loss is a cause for concern. These are the key differences between what's normal and what isn't when it comes to seniors and memory:
#1: What's That Word?
If your aging parent has trouble finding the right word, it's doesn’t necessarily mean you have cause for concern. It can be normal for people of all ages to pause when speaking or struggle to find the appropriate wording from time to time. What isn't normal is repeating oneself or having problems following a conversation.
#2: You Did What?
Making a bad choice now and again is a normal part of life. If your loved one signed up for an unexpected vacation with a timeshare tour, this doesn't mean they have dementia. What isn't normal is typically more extreme, like giving a large amount of money over the telephone, repeatedly falling victim to phishing schemes or regularly forgetting a vital day-to-day activity, like locking the door or turning off a vehicle.
#3: Where are Those Keys?
Losing the car keys or forgetting where the car is at Walmart happens to everyone from time to time, no matter what age. Most people occasionally forget what day of the week it is or to schedule a routine dental cleaning. The key difference between what's normal and what isn't is the ability to remember later. A person with dementia typically has a lessened or complete inability to retrace his steps, may lose track of time or even forget how he/she arrived at a destination. Forgetting occurs more frequently over time and becomes more noticeable.
#4: We Talked About It Last Week
Have you ever noticed that a person with dementia may forget current information but still remembers how to do something learned as a child, like playing the piano? This is because early memories are retained longer, while more recent events are not. Forgetting an appointment is normal from time to time, but having to rely on memory aides for simple tasks is not. Consistently forgetting recently learned information or asking for the same information again and again can be an early warning sign.
#5: It's Your Favorite
If your mom has made lasagna every Sunday for 40 years without a cookbook and suddenly forgets the recipe, this can signal a problem. When a person has dementia, there are typically challenges with daily life that are repetitive in nature. For instance, your dad who is a whiz at math can no longer balance his checkbook each month. Perhaps your mom consistently forgets to pay the electric company? These types of repeated incidents should be investigated.
If you suspect a parent or loved one may be suffering from some form of dementia, it’s imperative that you schedule an appointment with their primary care physician right away. If their physician suspects Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may be the culprit, they can likely suggest a memory care specialist and a medically appropriate course of action.
From time to time, a memory-lapse is normal for everyone. Disrupted sleep, vitamin deficiency and even medications can wreak havoc on memory. Even family members who are not experiencing dementia may require a bit of extra assistance to remain safely at home. If your loved one would benefit from daily assistance with small or large tasks, we encourage you to contact your local Broadview Heights SYNERGY HomeCare to schedule a complimentary in-home needs assessment, and discover how an in-home caregiver may be the solution your family is seeking.