What are the first signs of dementia, or things they do, not just "oh I forgot"?

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When I asked my mother's doctor (privately) he said " Oh she does have a lot going on right now." (Decline in health recently) If or when I need to have him to sign she is capable or not, I need to have it in her medical chart a head of time. I know what to expect from what I have read by some posted here but when does it start? Mother is generally a peaceful lady, but of late, she can ask me the same question an hour later. She has no UTI or nothing off on her blood work. Thanks

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http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp
Top Answer
Plus there are other forms of dementia, besides Alzheimers.

Dementia can creep up very, very slowly, doesn't follow a strict pattern and doesn't affect everyone the same way. But in general forgetting, repeating, personality changes, difficulty with sequencing of tasks (e.g. cooking a meal) are all signs of dementia. For the purposes of competency, a proper check by a medical professional is necessary. You should discuss her wishes with her and get her legal affairs in order now, while she is still able to discuss it.
You would need a Dr. to diagnose her but I always found that personality changes are a red flag. Everyone has bad days and everyone gets crabby but if there's a subtle shift in personality I'd get to the Dr.
AssandAche7 That is a good site.
Margaret What would be considered a medical professional of this specialty or would her family doctor do? I have asked her about her care, and she wants to stay with me. But realistically and reading different subjects on here, I need to know she understands I can not provide the best care for her. I am reading the Care directive and the Nurse is going over it with us soon. She doesn't want a POA ever again. Mom already put my name on her check book because she has trouble spelling her name, and writing a check. She opens her own mail then brings them to me. She can not cook a meal, she can't put a cap back on a tube, she sometimes asks what day of the week it is, or where I have been. She doesn't remember if it is time for medicines, I watch that and fix her pills. The RN who comes says she won't document anything of her concerns of dementia as mom signs her timesheet . This made me think about it strongly.
PS We are on the tenth day of in home skilled care.
If she is recovering from surgery or injury, it does take a long time, months, for them to resume full functionality. Mom had a stroke and had visiting nurses for months, from May to December. She made progress. Winter really set her back and she agreed to try an ALF this March. She really liked it. We knew she had dementia when she put potting soil on the steps instead of ice melt. We knew she had dementia when she was hiding bills and not paying them. We found ashes next to the stove with no explanation for them. Rotten food in the fridge is another hint. Overbuying groceries. A skin fungus from not bathing. Really screwing up medications. Lots of little things that are more than just forgetful. The final straw was when she turned on the gas cooktop during a power failure, expecting it to light a candle. Very scary.
Pamstegman... Thank you. I noticed a lot of changes in mental state during the period before her heart attack (hence checking out NH's) 80% blockage in heart. Heart surgeon said she wasn't getting blood to her brain. I have seen great improvements in her thinking. She doesn't remember much 3-4 months before the heart attack but remembers everything else in bits and pieces since. She seems to remember Alabama life real good. Today is the day I approach her about the different paper work ...health directive, ROI and hopefully a new will. Pray prayers of positiveness.
Personally, I would get a medical & durable POA on your mom.
So many have a cardiac blockage in their 20's. It's common.
IT STARTED....
It is wise for everyone to have a POA. When you need it, it's too late if you don't already have it in place. That is the place where she can express her wishes to you regarding her care. Make sure she understand that the POA only kicks in when she is unable to make her own choices!

As to dementia, there can be many causes including hardening of the arteries and small transient strokes. Medicine is still learning about the causes and effects. Regardless of the cause, when someone becomes a danger to themselves, they need supervised care.

Good luck with this. It isn't easy.

If you have notice changes or odd behavior, start documenting while it is fresh in your memory and send it to her dr ahead of time for him to review in advance. Then make appt and have dr do a mental exam --specifically ask him/her to complete a mental exam for cognitive impairment. Then take her in. That's what I did and he asked mom very specific questions related to some of the paranoia, socialization, current events, etc. and diagnosed her with early dementia. Then referred her to neurologist to confirm. Mom didn't accept the diagnosis --obviously scary for her...but it let me know what I was dealing with enough to prepare some and watch for other signs, help manage finances etc.

Mom continues to live on her own and for the most part is managing. It's been 2 yrs. they can prescribe medications that some have found to help. They didn't help my mom although she wasn't on them long enough to give a fair evaluation. Actually, she went off all her maintenance meds ...she's 91 and amazingly she is sharper now than she was for the last 3 yrs. I can't explain that except to say she likely shouldn't have been on some and secondly she likely wasn't managing her meds and taking them regularly as prescribed because of the dementia.

I live long distance and don't see her everyday, so I would visit and notice major changes. Paranoia, confusion, bad food in fridge, late bill notices, hallucinations were major flags.

Get HIPPA! DPOA for financial and medical current and in order and make sure you have copies in your possession. Start talking to her about what she wants and if she has plans when she can no longer manage. See if she will add you to her bank accounts. Visit some care facilities on your own, then narrow down to 1 or 2 and visit with mom well in advance of her needs so that she gets a feel for what she likes or wants in the future.

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