As we age, our brains become less elastic and able to effectively remember things like we used to. It’s a natural part of aging. While it can be embarrassing when you can’t remember someone’s name or remember what day of the week it is, age-related memory problems shouldn’t impact your daily life drastically.
However, there are illnesses associated with memory, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, that present a much deeper challenge to memory and quality of life. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, more and more people are expected to be diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 50 million currently live with dementia. In 10 years, they project that number will grow to 82 million people.
Here are some signs that you or your loved one should consider memory care:
Difficulty with familiar tasks
It can be normal for seniors to not understand how to work a new piece of technology, but if you notice your loved one unable to remember familiar tasks such as how to start the microwave when it’s something they’ve done a million times, they might be struggling with early onset dementia. Another sign of progressing issues is an inability to do everyday math problems, such as keeping track of monthly bills or baking with a recipe.
Losing track of time
After retirement, it can be easy for older adults to forget what day of the week it is. When most days of the week look the same, it’s easy for that to happen. Many people experience a similar issue when they’re on vacation. However, seniors may have an underlying illness if you notice that your parent or grandparent loses track of large swaths of time, such as seasons, or think that an important event happened last week when it was 6 months ago.
Finding the right word
Everyone knows what it feels like to have a word “on the tip of your tongue.” It’s a common occurrence known by scientists as lethologica, meaning from Greek “forgetfulness of words.” We even have invented fill-in words to use when we can’t quite think of the word, such as “thing” or “stuff,” or the more creative “thingamajig” or “whatsit.”
However, you might want to seek help if your loved one often loses their train of thought, suddenly stops speaking in the middle of a conversation and can’t think of how to proceed, or repeats themselves often.
Worsening decision making
It can be fun for the seniors in your life to go on the vacation of a lifetime or buy a car they’ve always wanted. If they have the means, your parent or grandparent should be able to make decisions for themselves and how they want to spend their money. However, if you notice they are losing track of their money or even simple things like not keeping their personal hygiene up to their usual standards, it might be a sign of a deeper neurological issue.
The line between mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases is hard to find. Because of that, people who are struggling with memory issues may show signs of depression, anger, and anxiety. If you notice drastic changes in overall mood and personality, you should consider talking with a doctor.
What you can do
Of course, if your loved one does one of these things every once in a while, take note and keep it handy in case you notice symptoms starting to pile up. However, if you’ve seen several of these signs listed here, schedule a conversation with a doctor when possible. It can be helpful to have a diagnosis if there is any neurodegenerative disease present.
Put your mind at rest knowing that the Care Professionals at Home Instead® can help. We are trained to help your parent or grandparent live as normally as possible, even if they do struggle with their memory. After all, keeping them in their home by friends and family is one of the best things you can do for their overall mental and emotional health.