Becoming more forgetful can be as natural a symptom of aging as gray hair. How do you decipher this forgetfulness from more serious symptoms of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia that may require a greater level of care? Let us review warning signs your aging parent may need memory care soon.

If your parent has been repeatedly asking the same question or losing his or her train of thought mid-sentence, this can be a warning sign. If your parent is away from home, he or she may ask you when the return trip home and, even though you respond, your parent may continue to ask the question every few minutes. This can be a common symptom of dementia. Another example may be when your parent is telling a story and midway through he or she either forgets what was being talked about, or shifts gears to a completely different story.

As dementia worsens, your parent may have difficulty managing time. This may present as missing a doctor’s appointment, not making it to church as he or she may have done for years, or not meeting a friend who your parent regularly meets. As an isolated incident, it may be a mere incidence of forgetfulness. If this begins to occur on a more regular basis with your usually punctual parent, however, it can warrant further investigation.

Forgetting important dates, such as your birthday, can also be a sign that memory care may be needed for your parent. If your mom has always been the one to send a card in advance of your birthday or to show up at your house with a cake and balloons and suddenly does not even recall that it is your birthday, this also may be a sign of dementia. The same goes for other important dates, such as anniversaries or upcoming holidays.

As the symptoms of dementia worsen, it becomes more difficult for the person to handle his or her financial affairs. This may result in your parent forgetting to make a payment, resulting in having a utility turned off or credit cards declined or canceled.

Furthermore, individuals who suffer from advanced dementia typically become more restless or agitated at the end of the day as the sun goes down. This is known as sundowning. This could present in many forms, such as the inability to sit still, rubbing his or her hands together, or even insulting you. Additionally, you may want to pay attention to any weight loss. Weight loss in a parent with advanced dementia can be the result of several causes. Your parent may be experiencing a loss of appetite, or the weight loss may be the result of he or she forgetting how to prepare his or her regular meals, or even getting lost on the way to the grocery store and abandoning his or her attempt to get there. If you notice your parent losing weight, you should try to speak with him or her about it and determine what factors are leading to the weight loss.

While it can be difficult to discern whether these signs indicate your parent is suffering from advanced dementia, the best thing you can do may be to keep a journal and record the symptoms you are seeing. This will help you when you reach out to your parent’s physician to discuss whether memory care is indicated for your parent.

For more information about memory care and important long-term planning tools you can put in place, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.