Suspecting a parent is developing Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia is upsetting. Not only do you have to deal with their memory loss and personality changes, you worry about their safety. You wonder if you should start looking at assisted living facilities.
There's a common adage about how not being able to find house keys is normal but not being able to find the house is a problem. There are other ways you can become clearer on whether your parent simply has some age-related memory issues or is experiencing something more serious. Track some of their behaviors to further evaluate the situation.
Making Changes in Spending Habits
Unexplained changes in spending habits can be signs of memory issues. Consider, for example, whether your parent has historically been frugal, using coupons for groceries and tallying up receipts to make sure everything is correct. If your parent doesn't seem to care much about this anymore, that's a change to take note of.
Having Less Interest in Mentally Challenging Activities
This can appear in various ways. Perhaps your parent has always enjoyed reading a newspaper or books and now doesn't bother. Maybe a relatively complicated game like Scrabble used to be a favorite pastime, but now they don't want to play anymore.
Asking Repetitive Questions
If your parent has trouble remembering simple information and keeps asking about it, that's not normal behavior. For instance, if you bought a new car a few months ago and you are still hearing questions from your parent about when you're going to buy a new car, that's an indication of substantial memory problems.
Being Unable to Follow Instructions
Watch for new difficulties such as being unable to follow a relatively simple recipe or directions to an unfamiliar but easy-to-find destination. There may be confusion about how long to run an oven or a garden sprinkler.
Forgetting Someone They Should Remember
Practically everyone completely forgets someone they haven't seen or thought about in a long time. However, sometimes that type of forgetfulness is noteworthy. For instance, a parent who starts to forget about grandchildren who live far away is showing significant symptoms of memory problems.
If any of the more troubling behaviors are in evidence, it's time to bring your parent to a doctor for an evaluation. The problem may not be dementia; it could be another condition such as depression or a physical disorder that makes them feel fatigued and muddled.
If your parent does have Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, you may need to start thinking about moving them to assisted living if the memory problems are causing problems with safety. Memory care units with 24-hour supervision can still be quite homey and comfortable, with private rooms and many amenities. For more information, talk to a place like Cokato Charitable Trust - Cokato Manor.