If you have an aging parent, how can you determine the difference between the typical cognitive and/or memory decline that tends to happen with age and dementia or something like Alzheimer's?
After all, people of all ages have experienced forgetting where they put their keys or what they went into the kitchen to grab.
According to Certified Senior Advisor, Pamela Wilson, there are some key clues to look for that will help you determine more serious cognitive decline.
For instance, if you find sticky notes all over the house with reminders, a cluttered environment with newspapers and magazines piling up, or bills not getting paid... these are all indicators that your loved one's ability to remember to take care of regular, everyday tasks is getting rusty.
If that IS the case, there are proactive steps you can take to help ease your parent through this transition.
Wilson suggests focusing on an activity in your relationship, versus making your time task-related. So, for example, instead of caring for your loved ones by doing the dishes or the laundry, get out with them. Spend some real quality time with them and make lasting memories. Find someone else to do the task work.
Reminiscing is a great activity for older adults to do with their younger caregivers, as it challenges the brain.
Another tip for a smooth transition is to have someone come into the house before there's an absolute "need." This forms a habit. Once they accept one type of help, it's easier to accept more, and it may prevent your parent from going into assisted living or a nursing home.
Also, before there's a need, go visit some assisted living facilities to see what the atmosphere is like. Sometimes these facilities are a better option, because your loved one is engaging with other people on a daily basis. Being stuck at home all alone for much of the day and not being able to socialize can contribute to anxiety and depression, as well as memory loss.
Finally, as a caregiver, you may see the value in long-term care insurance. Investing in this allows choices when you're older and allows you to live your life the way you want. It also lifts the burden from your children (or whoever is caring for you) and gives you the peace of mind that when you're older, you'll be able to live out your final years comfortably.
Listen in as Wilson joins Dr. Susanne to discuss these helpful tips, as well as her new book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes.