It’s hard to come to terms with this, but you might find, at some point in your life, your parent’s cognitive ability starts to deteriorate. It’s possible that you might notice them developing mental issues and this may ultimately be a sign that they are developing dementia. Often described as the shrinking of the brain, dementia has a number of key symptoms and signs that you should be aware of when you have an elderly parent. Let’s look at a few of these possibilities and think about what they could mean and the signs you should be watching out for.
The Early Signs
One of the earliest signs of dementia is issues with memory. You might on occasion walk into a room and forget what you went in there for. You might pick up the phone to call someone and then forget the number you were going to dial. You might even be about to say something and then forget what it was. This is called losing your train of thought and it’s completely normal, particularly if you’re distracted or stressed. However, if this starts to become a common occurence that’s not normal at all. Instead, it can be the first sign of cognitive issues that you should watch out for.
If it’s happening on a daily basis, it might be worth consulting a professional for an opinion.
Another early sign could be losing track of a conversation. You might be having a conversation with your parent when they seem to zone out completely. Bare in mind, this can also be a sign of hearing difficulties, and it’s always worth getting a hearing test first before jumping to any further conclusions.
Later signs can be far more severe. For instance, people who need Alzheimer’s care often forget who they are, where they are or even when they are. They get trapped in the past, living a certain aspect of memory on repeat. This could be the first meeting with their partner or perhaps a job that they used to have. Obviously, this can lead to trouble because it also means that the environment they are in no longer makes sense to them. They might pick up the iron thinking it’s an office phone or try to walk over stairs rather than down them. Reaching this stage, it is important to seek professional help.
At this stage, elderly parents can end up in dangerous situations, and if they continue to live at home, changes must be made to their living environment. Many experts do feel that maintaining a familiar environment helps people with this condition. However, it is important that the environment is made as safe as possible with changes made to protect them, often from themselves.
As you can see then, there are a number of signs of dementia that you should keep an eye out for, particularly as your parent reaches their twilight years. Don’t forget, as parents age the chances of developing dementia and similar conditions rise drastically.