Are you an adult child caring for your aging parent? Did you know that loss of memory may be a part of the aging process? As you care for your aging parent, how do you know when memory issues are serious enough to warrant intervention? What happens when your parent will not tell his or her physician that he or she is experiencing memory issues? Let us discuss some warning signs your aging parent may need memory care soon.
1. Appearance changes. With declining mental status there may be changes in appearance. For example, your parent may forget to bathe or stop putting an effort into his or her appearance, or even continuously wear the same outfit. This may be happening because he or she is forgetting to tend to hygiene or has confusion regarding the steps involved in hygiene. You know your parent best and are in a good position to see if there is a significant change in appearance.
2. Weight loss. Severe dementia may cause your parent to lose weight but there may be several other causes. Forgetting to eat may be the simplest cause, but if your parent does his or her own shopping he or she may be from getting lost on the way to the market, misplacing credit cards or having them turned off because your parent forgot to make the payment. Often, a combination of these factors may make the process of shopping for and eating food feel too overwhelming, and your parent may simply try to survive on what he or she has. If you do notice a sudden unexplained weight loss, you will need to engage your parent in a conversation about meals and grocery shopping. From a safety perspective, you should also determine whether your parent is at any risk of cooking related injuries, including burns or leaving the stove on, which may warrant immediate intervention.
3. Medication not taken. Are you noticing extra medicine around, or is your parent experiencing medical symptoms from not taking the proper medications, such as suddenly increased blood pressure or elevated blood sugar? These are sure signs that your parent is forgetting to take his or her medications.
4. Starting to get lost. If your parent is wandering or getting lost on routine routes this is a primary sign of dementia. When you try to talk to your parent, however, he or she may be unwilling to discuss it out of fear or shame, or his or her memory loss may cause him or her to be too confused to fully comprehend the situation. Try to visit your parent at a different time of day to see if they are wandering or getting lost or ask his or her neighbors to call you, if they see anything out of the ordinary.
5. Often agitated. Memory loss can be emotionally stressful. If your parent seems to be a little off or gets easily angered or begins lashing out, your parent may be experiencing memory loss. Often, memory decline will cause your parent to accuse family members and friends of stealing, as an explanation for misplacing things. If your parent accuses you of stealing, rather than take it personally, it may be time to call his or her doctor.
6. Depression. The aging process, medications, or a number of other reasons may cause depression. If you start to notice signs such as withdrawing from going outside, interacting with others, and increased isolation it may be time to not only talk to your parent but seek medical help.
If you observe any of these symptoms in your parent, first make sure he or she is in a safe environment and check on him or her more frequently. After this, speaking with his or her physician will provide you guidance in getting him or her appropriate memory care. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.