As caregivers and concerned family members, we want to make sure our elder loved ones are healthy physically and mentally. Memory loss is very common amongst older adults but not a ‘normal part of the aging process. We want to identify memory loss early to treat it effectively, and in some cases, reverse it.
We tend to look for the obvious. Does mom suddenly forget names? Do they forget directions? Do they remember to call? All of this is certainly memory loss, but we’d be surprised to know that memory loss can reveal itself very early in the least obvious ways. That said, let’s walk through some less-obvious early signs of memory loss so we can make sure our elderly loved ones are living happily and healthily.
Sometimes, memory loss can show itself through “awkward” social behavior. This is especially true if this behavior is noticeably different from how we’ve known our loved ones to behave. These signs can include:
Those experiencing memory loss can often lose their ability to detect sarcasm. The same jokes that used to land with our loved ones might begin to go right over their heads. They’ll be unusually gullible and will make sarcastic comments as literal statements.
If we’ve always known our loved ones to be kind and sweet, or at least hold back hurtful opinions, we might be surprised to find them saying hurtful things. Before we get angry, we should remember that these harmful statements might be out of their control. They could be exhibiting early signs of memory loss.
Prolonged staring might be a sign that memory loss is on the way for the elders in our lives. Even mid-conversation, they might begin to stare at us, others, or objects for uncomfortable periods. Eye movement might also become irregular, causing them to lose focus or skip lines while reading.
If our loved ones are in the early stages of memory loss, we might begin to notice strange changes in behavior. Some can be completely benign, some can be harmful, but all of these signs could mean that memory loss is on the way. These signs can include:
We might be shocked to find our regular letters and cards from grandma seem like they’ve been written by somebody else. One little-known sign of memory loss is a change in handwriting. These changes normally take the form of smaller handwriting or look as if the letters and words are closely bunched together, but a change in something so profoundly practiced and repeated can certainly be considered a red flag. Maybe Grandma wants to change things up but pay close attention if there is a change in handwriting.
We know our elders can be set in their ways, but an unusual and obsessive adherence to certain behaviors can be warning signs. Our loved ones might do things like obsessively locking doors. They might insist on buying a can of green beans every time they go to the store despite already having a cupboard full of them. The list goes on, but we can watch out for compulsive behavior if we are worried about memory loss.
When we know our loved ones well, we likely are familiar with how they eat. When looking for signs of memory loss, we want to look out for unusual eating habits. This can include a new and excessive taste that they’ve never had before, maybe for sweets. They might also make a habit of eating spoiled or rotten food from the fridge. Obviously, this early sign of memory loss can have some damaging physical effects as well.
Older Adults Have Unique Dementia Needs
Changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships, and changes in living situations all influence Dementia and need to be addressed. Sometimes, solving fundamental problems for older adults in our lives can lower their stress, improve connections, and improve their outlook and mood. Left untreated, Dementia can affect an individuals’ physical health and quality of life. Ask a loved one if he or she feels sad or anxious. Listen carefully and offer emotional support. Consult with a professional, such as those at WellQor, who are explicitly trained in the needs of older adults.
You can still have wins in the Midst of Memory loss
Memory loss can be a scary situation, but we offer many products and solutions to assist you and your parent to keep them safe so they can maintain their independence at home as long as possible.
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