Signs of Cognitive Decline
Could the signs be Alzheimer’s?
While the current pandemic has many of us still stuck at home, it remains challenging to visit your senior family members. Out of necessity and safety, in person visits might be limited, but when you are able to see your family member after some time, you may notice changes that you hadn’t noticed before. This is perfectly normal because the more interaction we have with someone, the less likely we are to notice changes in behavior. But when a lot of time has passed, the changes are more acute.
Gradual mental declines are a normal part of aging and don’t interfere with daily living. This might include forgetting names and words, misplacing things or slower performance of daily tasks. Do you know what signs to look for?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15% to 20% of people age 65 or older have Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Many who suffer from MCI will also be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Researchers have determined that MCI is a point along the path to Dementia. Here are some signs that you can look for:
- Memory loss that is unexpected for his or her age. This includes forgetting conversations, scheduled appointments, recently learned information, and other planned events. This type of memory loss disrupts daily life and is not a typical part of aging. Examples include asking for the same information repeatedly, using lots of reminder notes and relying on family members to do things that they used to do on their own.
- Loses focus frequently and has confusion with time and place. Tasks may get started and then easily forgotten. An example of this is if a stove accidentally gets left on because they started to cook and then lost their focus. Another example is if a simple walk in their neighborhood becomes unfamiliar and confusing.
- Planning and problem solving becomes increasingly difficult. Challenges with developing and following a plan, working with numbers, and keeping track of monthly bills are a few examples of the problem-solving skills that may diminish with cognitive declines.
- Not being able to form complex tasks such as balancing a check book or following a familiar recipe. This might also include completing everyday tasks such as driving to familiar places, using a cell home, or shopping.
- Changes in mood and behavior. Very drastic changes in mood can be a telling sign. If your loved one feels uncomfortable in new places or gets agitated, confused, or fearful, there could be more going on than normal aging.
If you have seen these signs in your loved one, a clinical diagnosis can be made by a health care provider. It can be difficult to diagnose because cognitive declines can look very different from person to person. For instance, someone who is a scientist will have cognitive declines that look much different. It’s important to tell a doctor what your family member was like before the aging process. If they were always forgetful or aloof, then this is an important trait to mention.
Although, once there is a diagnosis, there is still a lot of capacity to live a normal and fulfilling life. And by getting a diagnosis, you and your family can begin making plans. Some help may be required through in-home care services such as those offered by HomeWell Care Services. Our Care Managers can help you put together a home care plan that works for your situation. Many family caregivers find themselves taking on the responsibility on their own and begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Our compassionate caregivers are trained to lift some of that burden by providing trusted, quality care whenever you need us most.
Contact your local HomeWell Care Services today.