If you find yourself in this situation, the Alzheimer’s Association offers some advice in their blog, “10 Steps to Approach Memory Concerns in Others”.
Alzheimer’s Awareness: What You Need to Know
What to do if you suspect memory problems may be something more serious
It all starts with assessing the situation. In addition to changes in memory, are you noticing they are having challenges thinking or are exhibiting behavior that’s out of the ordinary? Check to see if other people like family members are noticing the same thing.
Consider what else is going on in the person’s life that might be contributing to these changes. Are they under a lot of stress? Are they depressed? Do they have an unresolved medical issue? Are they taking a new medication? Are they having trouble sleeping? Are there any new medical conditions they are experiencing?
Changes in memory, thinking or behavior may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, but they might also be the result of other treatable and reversible causes like a urinary tract infection.
Sorting out whether a change is just a normal part of aging can be tricky as well. The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, distinguishing normal changes associated with aging from signs of dementia.
10 early signs of Alzheimer’s disease
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
Generally speaking, it’s normal for someone to experience some of these on occasion. It’s when some or all of them happen on a more frequent basis that there’s cause for concern.
If that’s the case, the next step is to have a conversation with the person. Determine who might be the best person to talk with them. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests starting the conversation tentatively, saying something like “I’ve noticed [change] in you, and I’m concerned. Have you noticed it? Are you worried?”
Then ask the person if they will see a doctor and show your support by offering to go to the appointment. Keep in mind that it may take multiple conversations before you get anywhere.
If it’s revealed that the person has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the next step is to reach out for help. The Alzheimer’s Association is a good place to start.
As the person’s dementia progresses, it may become a challenge for them to continue living in their current home. Rather than waiting for this to happen, plan ahead. Check out senior living communities that offer memory care. Keep in mind that when you find a community you like, there may be a waiting period before a space opens up. Another reason to research them early.
To learn more, check out our free ebook, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Memory Care.