Have you noticed an aging loved one becoming more forgetful or easily confused? Maybe spending more time together during the holidays is bringing some issues to light? If you have any concerns, the best time to talk about memory problems with a family member is now. The sooner the better, so that you can find ways to get help before things progress too far. We’re addressing some symptoms to look out for, as well as how to start the conversation.
What are the common symptoms of memory loss?
As you spend time with an aging loved one, there are a few key symptoms that may point to memory loss. You may notice them asking the same questions repeatedly, and forgetting or mixing up common words as they speak. It might start taking them longer to complete familiar tasks, or they may get lost when navigating in a familiar area. Memory problems can also cause changes in mood or behavior, and misplacing items in seemingly inappropriate places.
How to talk about memory problems
If you notice any of these common symptoms, you can start with asking other family members if they have made similar observations. If so, bring your loved one into the conversation. Some individuals with early-stage dementia are likely to have more self-awareness about their failing memory. Be honest with your loved one about the symptoms that you have noticed, and let them know that you are concerned about their well-being. Suggesting a trip to their primary care physician may be a little scary, but you or another trusted family member can offer to go with them.
Questions to bring up with a doctor
Once you have had this conversation with your loved one, it’s time to schedule an appointment with their doctor to talk about memory problems. If at all possible, someone should go to the appointment with your loved one, both for moral support and in order to take notes and answer questions about observed behavior. There are a few causes of memory loss that may not be related to Alzheimer’s or dementia, so it is important to answer the doctor’s questions to the best of your ability in order to rule those out.
Some medications (or combinations) can cause memory loss or confusion, as well as minor head injuries. Anxiety and depression can cause forgetfulness, as well as alcoholism or combining alcohol with certain medications. The doctor will most likely ask when the memory issues began, about any medications your loved one is taking, and about recent illnesses or major life events.
Why is it important to get a diagnosis?
If any other causes of memory loss are ruled out, your loved one’s doctor will likely begin exploring a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is important to get a proper diagnosis so that your loved one can make decisions about managing symptoms with medication or other treatment. Although there is no cure for dementia and memory disorders, there are ways to slow it down.
This is also a good time to educate yourself and other family members about your loved one’s diagnosis and any timelines you may be able to expect in their progression. While your loved one is in the earlier stages and has more self-awareness, it is important to get their finances and legal concerns in order, as well as to determine their preferences for in-home care or a memory care residence.
At our Story Cottage residences in Indianapolis and Carmel, we offer the lowest patient-to-caregiver ratio in the area, premium safety features and a personalized curriculum to best suit your loved one’s interests and skills. When you’ve had the talk about memory problems and the time comes for residential memory care, Story Cottage is the top option for your peace of mind. Contact us today online or at 317-449-5696 to schedule a complimentary consultation for your family.