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“Something is wrong, my loved one is not the same”

This is a common scenario for older adults, and a form of dementia may be the cause.
Ensure a cognitive assessment is an early part of the work up
Memory loss, becoming anxious, having trouble explaining feelings, and new difficulty managing things at home can all be signs of dementia. It’s important to know for sure. Dementia is a common problem for older adults (people over age 65). An older adult with progressive memory loss and difficulty managing things should have an assessment for dementia because it is so common.

Generally, it is good practice for a primary care physician to evaluate an older adult for dementia before sending that person to other specialists since dementia could explain what is going on.

How to spot early signs of dementia-related difficulty with independence

Dementia involves thinking, memory problems, and difficulty managing things at home. Many times, family members will not realize early on the difficulty a loved one is having at home. Checking whether a loved one has new difficulty managing "pills and bills" is a good first step. Specifically:

  • Look at the check book and bank statements. Are bills being paid on time?
  • Check the medication bottles. Are medications being taken regularly and refilled at the proper intervals?
If your loved one is having trouble managing medication and bills, it is time to get a cognitive evaluation from your doctor.
4 steps to support a loved one with dementia
  • Look at the checkbook: Have they forgotten to pay any bills? Do you notice irregularities in spending?
  • Check medication use: Have they forgotten to take any? Have they taken too much?
  • Make sure your loved one is not taking over-the-counter medications that interfere with thinking: Some over-the-counter medications for allergy symptoms or insomnia actually cause thinking problems. When you go to the doctor, be sure and show the doctor a list of all over-the-counter medications being used.
  • Make an appointment to discuss the above: Tell the doctor you want a cognitive test. If the doctor diagnoses your loved one with dementia, be sure to ask what type.
Don’t wait to schedule an appointment
The sooner you get answers, insights, and support, the better-equipped you’ll be to care for your loved one and yourself. The first step is to make a cognitive assessment appointment with their primary care doctor trained in memory care. New patients are also welcome.