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Alzheimer’s and Dementia FAQ: Is It Dementia or Just Normal Aging?

As your loved one gets older, you might find yourself looking and listening for any signs that they are having challenges while living at home. For many adult children, they pay very close attention to their older loved one’s cognitive skills. If you are wondering if you are seeing early signs of dementia in your loved one or if it is just normal aging, you aren’t alone. At Lovebird HomeCare, we work with families across Illinois and Indiana who are wondering the same thing.

Here are a few of our most commonly asked questions when it comes to determining if your loved one is showing signs of early dementia or normal aging. While everyone is unique, these questions and answers might be able to guide you to schedule a follow-up physician appointment or make a call to our team to set up support services.

Should I be worried if my loved one is always forgetting my son’s name?

Occasional forgetfulness is common, but if it affects daily life, it could be something more serious.

Occasional word-finding challenges are common for anyone of any age. In fact, you might have even noticed that you need an extra moment to find the right word or name when in a conversation with a friend. This is normal.

If your loved one occasionally forgets your son’s name or needs to go through a few other grandchild names before they get to your son’s, it is most likely normal. However, if your loved one consistently forgets your son’s name or refers to him as another name from the past, it could be a sign of dementia and you should follow up with your physician.

Why can’t my loved one remember where she puts things?

Have you ever misplaced your smartphone or had to leave the house in a rush because you were searching for your missing keys? Misplacing or losing items every once in a while is normal. In fact, misplacing items often can still be normal if it is an issue of organization (for example, always put your keys in the same place when you come home).

However, if your loved one is misplacing items all day long, or if searching for lost items is taking up a large portion of the day or causing her anxiety, it could be a sign of dementia and you should follow up with a physician visit. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that any forgetfulness, judgment issue, or confusion that disrupts daily life is often a sign of dementia and should be pursued with a medical professional.

Should I be concerned if my loved one is just not himself lately?

Everyone has bad days, but if you notice your loved one is more depressed or anxious than usual, it’s time to chat with their physician. Depression and anxiety are not always an indicator of dementia. In fact, seniors are generally more vulnerable to mental health challenges as they get older. However, if you notice that their anxiety significantly increases in the late afternoon or early evening hours, it could be a symptom of dementia and you should follow up accordingly.

Dementia can also cause personality changes that don’t necessarily include depression or anxiety. If you notice that your loved one is grouchier than usual or has a shorter fuse than normal, it could be time to talk to a medical professional about it.

Why can’t my loved one manage their own bills anymore?

Complex, multi-step tasks that require work over an extended period of time can be very challenging for someone living with cognitive decline. If you notice that your loved one simply cannot keep up with paying their bills or managing their budget any longer, it could be a sign of early-stage dementia. Again, use the rule of thumb from the Alzheimer’s Association that tells us that any forgetfulness, judgment issue, or confusion that disrupts daily life should be brought up to a physician.

As your loved one ages, they will face physical and cognitive challenges that could make you worry. Fortunately, when you have the right support system in place, you can rest assured they are receiving the assistance they need to stay healthy and safe. The team at Lovebird HomeCare provides personalized services in the home designed to meet your loved one’s specific abilities and challenges. Call us today to talk more about your situation and learn how we can help. 

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