Have you noticed that your aging mom or dad is becoming more and more forgetful lately? It can be disconcerting, especially if your loved one lives alone. Unfortunately, many well intentioned loved ones will brush forgetfulness or confusion under the rug, chalking it up to a "senior moment". But how can you determine if your loved one is forgetting more than normal? When do you become concerned or follow up with a doctor?
Forgetfulness is not normal aging
It is important to note out of the gate that forgetfulness is not a normal part of aging. While it is certainly normal for someone of any age to forget occasional things - where did I put those keys? - it is not normal to consistently forget new names or information.
Forgetfulness is not a regular occurrence
If your loved one is demonstrating some forgetfulness, make a conscious effort to note how often it happens. Forgetting her new neighbor's name is not concerning, however if your mom consistently cannot remember her new neighbor's name, it may be a good idea to follow up with a physician.
Forgetfulness does not affect daily tasks
If your loved one's forgetfulness is affecting their participation in regular daily tasks such as grooming, hygiene, or regular social appointments like a weekly lunch with friends, it is not a simple "senior moment". Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or other early stages of dementia are often diagnosed because the forgetfulness is affecting regular daily life.
Forgetfulness is not confusion
Normal forgetfulness is not confusion. If your loved one is becoming lost in familiar neighborhoods or in their home, follow up with a geriatrician or neurologist. Finally, forgetfulness also does not affect judgment. Wearing inappropriate clothing, such as a winter coat to go outside in the summer, is a judgment issue that may indicate some memory loss issues; be sure to follow up with a doctor appointment to address your concerns.
If you believe that your loved one is having some memory issues, take heart. Fortunately, we live in a time that offers many options for senior assistance, especially in our area. Keeping your loved one at home, even with dementia, is more manageable thanks to home care services aimed to maintain independence and dignity.
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