Adult children taking care of their elders is frequently an inevitability, albeit one that is difficult to be emotionally prepared for. Changes in later life may be dismissed as the cantankerousness of advanced age or personality quirks, but it might be something far more serious. Contrary to stereotypes, diminished mental faculty is not a normal development as one becomes older. It is important to be aware of the early signs of dementia that aging parents may demonstrate.
Lapse in Memory
Not all memory issues are linked to dementia, and sometimes this symptom can be reversed in cases where it is linked to a different condition. But short term memory loss, which can lead to problems with managing bills and other errands, and even neglecting personal hygiene, may be more than just “forgetfulness.”
When a parent stammers over their words, repeats phrases, or sends text messages or emails that are hard to understand, this may be a sign that their capacity for language and communication is beginning to deteriorate. Sometimes this can even manifest in the middle of a conversation. Watch for missed words and phrases, or conversations that just don’t make any sense.
An elderly parent dealing with early onset dementia may begin to have trouble grasping what used to be a simple concepts for them. Routines might suddenly be forgotten, and they could possibly find themselves not being able to focus on mundane tasks that used to be daily occurrences. Their self awareness and daily functioning may begin to suffer as a result, causing poor decision making and the inability to handle simple tasks. Watch for lack of personal hygiene or housework that used to come easily to them.
Mood and Personality Changes
A person suffering from dementia may become more combative or withdrawn, and otherwise exhibit behavior that seems to be depression. But when coupled with one or more of the other signs on this list, it is advisable that the child accompany the parent to consult a doctor. Many families experience this situation, and there is a lot of support and resources available to provide assistance. Watch for sudden mood swings, or personality changes that seem to come out of nowhere.
It may seem overwhelming when a parent or elderly relative starts to exhibit signs of dementia. However, it doesn’t have to be. With patience and proper care, there are many resources to help your family deal with these new developments.