Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is mom developing dementia or is it my imagination?


Do not let your worries about aging parents overwhelm you. If you think there is a problem, it is probably not your imagination. Start today to learn more about aging issues and the care options available to you and your family.


Nancy Iannone

It’s Sunday afternoon and you’ve picked up the phone to call your mom just like you have every week for years. She answers cheerfully, and you start through the familiar litany of neighborhood happenings, aches and pains and who was in the obituaries this week. Everything would seem like usual except for that little flutter of worry in your stomach.
The last couple of conversations you’ve noticed that your mom is having trouble thinking of familiar words. Your mom tells you that she is playing cards with her friends at the senior center, but can’t remember what day she went there. You’ve also noticed she seems to talk more and more about the past than recent events. Is this normal aging or the beginning of dementia?

It is easy, as an adult child, to blame the changes you are hearing or seeing on normal aging. According to the American Medical Association, signs of normal aging can include:
  • Complaints of memory loss but your parents can give considerable detail about the incident of forgetting
  • Your parent is more concerned about their memory loss than you are
  • While your parent may occasionally forget a word, it isn’t frequent
  • Your parent may not be willing to learn how to use new devices or appliances but can operate the ones they have

Signs that dementia may be developing include:
  • Family members being much more worried about memory loss than the parent
  • Noticeable decline in memory of recent events
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Unable to learn simple new devices or tasks
  • Loss of interest in social activities
If you are concerned that your parent may be developing dementia, what can you do?
  1. Learn more about normal aging and dementia by visiting websites such as the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, the Alzheimer’s Association, or the Family Caregiver Alliance.
  2. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for resources in your area.
  3. See if your parents will give permission for you to talk with their family physician
  4. Encourage a physical if your parent has not had one recently. An illness or medication may be causing the change
  5. Contact a Geriatric Care Manager to help you assess your parent’s needs and makes recommendations.
Don’t let your worries about aging parents overwhelm you. If you think there is a problem, it is probably not your imagination. Start today to learn more about aging issues and the care options available to you and your family.

Nancy Iannone, BSW, has worked with extensively with older adults, including over 20 years providing and directing hospice care services in the Colorado River area. Nancy was introduced to care giving as a small child, helping her parents with aging family members. She and her partners started CarePath Senior Solutions LLC in 2008, to provide geriatric care management services to families struggling with eldercare solutions that maintained dignity and independence of their loved ones.

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