August 6, 2020
Very often caregivers and aging adults worry about cognitive changes like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These are very real concerns, but your elderly family member may simply be experiencing stress-related memory issues or temporary cognitive challenges. Some mix of these signs might mean it’s a good idea for her to talk to her doctor about more comprehensive cognitive tests.
She’s Having Trouble with Familiar Tasks
Familiar tasks are often comfortable because they are so familiar. These are tasks that your senior has always been able to say she could do blindfolded. Maybe this involves a specific craft or doing something like cooking a specific food, and suddenly the process seems unfamiliar to your senior and that causes her distress.
She’s Having New Trouble with Time
Some people have never had a great sense of time, but this is more than that. If your elderly family member is suddenly having difficulty tracking the day of the week or even what time of day it is in terms of whether it’s morning or evening, that could be a problem. Cognitive illnesses often change how the brain interprets and understands time, which can manifest as difficulty keeping track of it.
She’s Repeating Stories or Actions
Repetition often becomes comfortable and soothing for people with cognitive illnesses. Your elderly family member might start to repeat words and phrases or she might develop repetitive actions, like pacing. Your senior may not even notice these changes. She may also repeat entire stories, from start to finish, back to back.
She’s Finding Familiar Locations to Be Unfamiliar
Something that your elderly family member might find scary is that she might be in a location she knows to be familiar, and yet find that she’s lost or feels as if the location is unfamiliar. Your elderly family member may not be sure what to do in response to those situations, either. It can be a good idea to make sure she has contact information in multiple formats with her at all times, just in case.
She’s Having Trouble Making Easy Decisions
Easy decisions are those that your senior may have taken for granted for a while. If it’s becoming difficult for her to make even simple decisions now, that could be a sign that her brain is changing. The other situation to look for is your senior making decisions that seem to be out of character for her or that are simply bad decisions. Her judgment could be off because of cognitive changes.
Your elderly family member may not be experiencing all of these issues or she could be experiencing all of them to a degree. Talking with her doctor and getting test results back can help a lot. If she does need some additional assistance at home, elderly care providers can acclimate her to her new normal.