Are Changes in a Senior Loved One Normal Signs of Aging or Something Else?

March 26, 2018

Normal AgingFamilies often wonder if the changes they are witnessing in a senior loved one are caused by normal aging or something more. Learn how to tell the difference.

Forgetting the name of someone you just met or where you left your cell phone can happen to anyone in the midst of a busy day. Most of us have experienced it. But when that forgetfulness begins to interfere with everyday life, it might be more than just stress that is causing it. Memory loss is one of the early signs of dementia.

How can you tell if the changes you are noticing in an older loved one are part of the normal aging process or if they are caused by something more serious?

We have some information to help you recognize the warning signs that should be documented and discussed with the senior’s primary care physician.

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

What are the warning signs of dementia? Here are a few of the most common:

1. Problems remembering

Short-term memory loss is probably the most widely known symptom of dementia. Older adults who are in the early stages of dementia or  Alzheimer’s—the most common form of dementia—typically struggle to recall recently learned information such as a person’s name, a new phone number, or the date and time of an appointment. You may notice your loved one has begun to ask you to repeat the same information over and over.

2. Misplacing things

Another sign of potential trouble is when a senior begins regularly misplacing or losing things. Because short-term memory is impacted early in a person with dementia, an older adult can’t retrace their steps to find missing items. If you keep finding your father’s car keys in strange places or if your mom keeps losing her purse, it might be something to talk with them and their physician about.

3. Getting lost in familiar places

Confusion, wandering, getting lost, and disorientation are also early warning signs of dementia. In fact, 60% of the nation’s 5 million Alzheimer’s patients wander at some point. An adult with early dementia might get lost driving to a familiar destination or even in a store they’ve been to hundreds of times before.

4. Speech and word problems

Some seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s begin to struggle with carrying on a conversation. They have difficulty finding the right words or remembering a question that was just asked of them. They might call familiar objects by the wrong name, calling the stove a window, for example. Since they are often aware of—and embarrassed by—the problem, the senior may begin to withdraw from social activities and family gatherings.

5. Mismanaging finances

Judgment and abstract thought are often impacted early in the disease process. This makes it difficult for a senior with early dementia to safely manage household finances. They might neglect paying one utility bill while paying another one several times. This also puts them at increased risk for becoming the victim of a financial scam.

If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a senior with memory loss, a memory care community might be a solution to explore.

Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

Legacy Senior Living is proud to serve adults with memory disorders. We call our memory care services The Harbor. We invite you to schedule a personal appointment at a community near you so you can see our state-of-the-art memory care program in person.