If you are the adult child of a parent who all of a sudden seems to be aging rapidly, you may feel as if you are responsible for their health and well-being. As such, when you begin to notice signs of basic cognitive and memory issues, you might find yourself wondering if the signs you notice are a normal part of the aging process or if they could be a sign of something more. The worry that your parent may be suffering from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia can be all-consuming if you do not know what to do about your fears. Get to know some of the steps that you can take when you think that your parent may be suffering from dementia so that you can be sure that your parent gets the best care and treatment possible if they do have a form of dementia.
Keep Track of Memory Lapses and Their Frequency
In order to better gauge whether or not your parent is dealing with dementia or normal age-related cognitive decline, you will want to start keeping close track of their memory lapses and the frequency at which they occur so that you can better understand what is going on. The easiest way to do this is to keep a notebook with you or to use a memo app on your phone and just jot down the moments when there are clear memory issues with your parent.
This can include forgetting the word they are looking for, losing their train of thought in the middle of a sentence, forgetting where their keys or purse are located, forgetting entire conversations you have had with them, and misplacing items in odd places. It is important to keep in mind that a few of these lapses occurring occasionally is not necessarily an indicator that your parent has dementia.
Everybody is forgetful sometimes and other factors can play a role in these issues. This is why it is important to keep close track of these occurrences and to monitor how frequently they occur. If many different types of memory lapses occur with increasing frequency, there may be reason for concern. However, if they are relatively spaced out and do not seem to get worse, you may just be looking at "normal" age-related memory issues.
Encourage Your Parent to Consult with a Neurologist
If you still have concerns after keeping track of memory lapses, you may want to talk to your parent and encourage them to make an appointment with a neurologist. Neurologists are essentially brain specialists that are experts in disorders of the brain and nervous system.
The neurologist appointment will involve several tests of your parent's cognitive function, as well as a series of interview questions regarding their ability to remember and function cognitively on a daily basis. If the neurologist detects signs of abnormal cognitive decline as well, they will recommend various scans (MRI, PET scan, or another non-invasive scan) to look at the structure of the brain. This will help to determine if there are any plaques (signs of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia) or potentially a brain tumor that could account for the cognitive issues.
Now that you know a few steps that you can take if you are concerned that your parent is suffering from dementia, you can better handle the situation and ensure that you are doing everything that you can to help take care of your parent as they age. For more information on neurologists, check out websites like http://www.billingsclinic.com.
As an elderly care worker, I have witnessed the deaths of many individuals. I have seen family members become angry, sad, and completely silent at the end. I have also seen individuals refuse to see family members out of denial. People deal with death in different ways, and the strong emotions are often unfamiliar and scary. If you have a parent or grandparent who is elderly, then I want to share with you what I know about end of life care and dying process. We are a society that does not talk about death, and this can cause great pain when a family member dies. Learn about the process and find out how to deal with your own emotions and how to love your family members at the end. If there is only a small amount of time left, then I want you to cherish the final moments.