Keeping My Mom Safe, Happy, and Healthy
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Keeping My Mom Safe, Happy, and Healthy

When we found out that my mom was experiencing signs of dementia, we didn't take the news lightly. We were concerned about her well-being, and I knew that she couldn't keep living on her own. To keep her safe, I decided to enroll her in a nursing home that specialized in mental health care. She was concerned about the change at first, but as soon as she moved in, she only had positive things to say about her new digs. She loved the ability to get in touch with doctors the same day, and she was even able to make a few friends along the way. This blog is all about keeping your parents safe, happy and healthy.

Keeping My Mom Safe, Happy, and Healthy

Just Forgetful Or Something More? When To Worry About Your Elderly Parent

Lisa Sutton

Forgetfulness is something that everyone experiences on an occasional basis, but watching an elderly parent struggle with this behavior can be worrisome for their children, especially if they have assumed the role of caretaker. While research has helped to provide additional information about dementia, Alzheimer's and other cognitive function conditions that primarily target people in their later years, there is still much that is not known about these conditions and no cure has yet been found. If you have become the primary caretaker for an elderly parent and are worried that they are exhibiting abnormal amounts of memory loss, the following information can help you help them.  

Determining what is normal and what is not

While there is no definitive age at which it has been proven that dementia or other memory loss issues are more apt to develop, most cases are thought to develop later in life. Instances of simple memory loss, however, can occur at any time in life. Stress, fatigue and emotional issues, medications and many other factors can bring on forgetfulness. Misplacing car keys or forgetting a lunch date may be upsetting, but unless this type of behavior occurs frequently and becomes worse over time, it is unlikely that it is related to more serious cognitive function conditions and diseases, like dementia and Alzheimer's.

Considering the link between nutrition and some types of memory loss

Although the research is still ongoing, there is some evidence to suggest that certain nutrient deficiencies can contribute to memory loss and cognitive issues. Some of these include magnesium, folic acid and Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 deficiencies. While changes in your parent's diet may be needed in order to improve their nutrition, you should also broach this subject with their doctor so that they can be tested and serious deficiencies can be ruled out.

Another nutritional component under consideration to improve cognitive health is coconut oil. This healthy fat has been found to contain medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that the brain utilizes as fuel. Although coconut oil has not yet been embraced by the medical community as a treatment for memory loss, including a spoonful of this healthy fat into your elderly parent's daily diet could offer some benefits, including an increase in energy, if nothing else.

Knowing when to speak with your parent's doctor

In many cases, older people can become so worried about being diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia that they attempt to hide or discount any signs of forgetfulness or lapses in their memory. However, as their caretaker and their child, you are likely to be familiar enough with their normal behavior to note any changes that seem troubling, such as:

  • forgetting information that they have known for years, such as favorite recipes, phone numbers for loved ones or how to play a favorite card or board game
  • becoming lost or confused in familiar settings or while driving through familiar areas
  • exhibiting sharp changes in personality, such as becoming angry or aggressive without reason
  • misplacing common objects, such as putting their phone or wallet in the refrigerator
  • experiencing unusual or prolonged bouts of depression
  • withdrawing from social activities
  • losing interest in their appearance or that of their home
  • sleeping or dozing during the day instead of attending to normal activities
  • confusing medications and dosages often

If your parent exhibits one or more of the changes noted above, you will need to take action in order to keep them safe. Start by having an honest discussion with both your parent and their health care professional. If your parent has had a new medication prescribed or a dosage changed recently, ask their doctor or pharmacist if the medication could cause memory loss or cognitive problems.

If your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other serious cognitive issues, it may be time to consider other strategies for keeping them safe. These include hiring a dependable live-in companion who can oversee medications and handle driving and other tasks. If this is not possible, it may be time to discuss additional measures with your parent, such as an assisted living facility like Alta Ridge Communities.