The holidays are a time when many adult children visit their aging parents, in some instances for the first time in over a year. While it is a time to celebrate and catch up, it can also bring concern when a mom or dad shows signs of memory loss and confusion.
We hear often from adult children in this situation who wonder if they are overreacting or if there is cause for genuine concern. They find themselves at a crossroads contemplating what if any actions they should be taking.
If this is your situation, we understand your concern and your growing fears.
On one hand, you’d like to believe that mom or dad’s forgetfulness or inability to find the right words in a conversation are just signs of normal aging. And yet, there is that nagging thought that it could, in fact, be something more.
Looking back on your visit, ask yourself if your parent exhibited any of the following behaviors:
- Reluctance to engage in activities they used to enjoy such as playing a game or preparing a meal.
- Struggling to carry on a conversation, often losing track of what they were going to say.
- Appearing unkempt and less aware of personal hygiene.
- Becoming atypically irritable when you attempted to help them.
- Repeatedly forgetting to take their medications.
- Misplacing personal items in unusual places.
- Quick to anger over something that never bothered them before.
- Leaving a stove burner on or water running.
- Forgetting to lock their doors or leaving them ajar.
- Finally, did other family members notice a change?
Of course, at any given time, all of us have experienced a few of the above, especially as we age. So it’s important not to jump to conclusions.
Equally important, however, is to trust your instincts.
Nobody knows your parents as well as you do. Discuss your concerns with your family. Reach out to trusted sources, such as a family physician, therapist, or spiritual advisor for guidance as these conversations can be challenging.
Whether your parent is experiencing normal aging, mild cognitive loss, or is in the early stages of dementia is a determination that requires a thorough evaluation by a licensed health professional with expertise in dementia.
We understand how challenging taking these steps can be.
However, by taking them, you will be in a stronger position to care for your parent, regardless of the prognosis.
Always know that you can reach out to any of our Anthem Memory Care communities with your concerns. Many of us have experienced similar situations in our own families, and we are always here to provide a sympathetic ear as well as information and resources to help you meet the challenges ahead.