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I have observed my mom become forgetful, confused, forget what time, day or month it is but then she'll be pretty rationale about other things. She seems to have lost all ability to do bills, handle the phone (making or receiving calls). No one else has observed it b/c as MANY caregivers will tell you -- we're pretty much on our own. The few times ppl do make their quick appearances in mom's life, mom is so happy about that -- that seems to put her in lucid rationale mode.
So is there a difference between cognitive decline and dementia or is one a precursor to the next? Thanks.

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Call your local Alzheimer's Association. Many have caregiver support groups that provide caregivers with a safe supportive setting to discuss the very things your mom and you are experiencing. www.alz.org
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Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. I will take the advice that best suits mom. Just wish I wasn't all alone here. Some caregivers have their husbands or someone around -- it's just me and mom in the house 24/7 with the occasional visit by a wayward friend or PT. Seems I'm the only witness to so much which makes me feel like an island to myself.
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https://www.agingcare.com/search.aspx?q=10+Warning+Signs+Alzheimer%27s

YOU may want to print and start filling in the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimers found on this same website. You can click on it at the bottom of the page too.
I did this on my mother after my brother passed and she moved 100 miles north to our area. I actually was shocked at how much she has declined and I could make note of. This then could be given to her doctors. Once we recognized the diagnosis we have found out there are many resources for help. Bless you on this new adventure. And one thing that is a SILVER LINING is I have met so MANY wonderful caregivers/staff/medical professionals that really care--they have been a blessing to us, even understanding and letting it roll off their shoulders when dealing with my angry/frustrated mom in the midst of her coming to recognize herself she is having memory issues...
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My dad started with cognitive decline and has progressed to moderate stage dementia now. He can no longer cook, do bills, take meds. He can dress and shower himself but needs to be coaxed and prompted to do things as reminders. Sounds like dementia to me.
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Cognitive decline is really how the diagnoses come about. Become familiarized with services that may be available in the home possibly by calling your aging office ....a geriatric care case worker may also walk you through what you may be able to obtain for her...there are family support programs in almost every state...
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Pretty much all the same thing - neurological decline. They may come under different names and have varying degrees but there is no cure. Aricept or Namenda might slow down the cognitive decline but it all comes to dealing with the behaviors.
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I think it depends on who uses the term. Sometimes "cognitive decline" is used as a euphemism for dementia. Sometimes it is descriptive of a change. For example, as someone with dementia is having new symptoms he may be said to experience another cognitive decline. Sometimes it is used to mean "Mild Cognitive Impairment,"

What you describe in your mother sounds like the beginnings of dementia. Maybe if she were evaluated she would be diagnosed with Mild Cogntive Impairment, and then if she experienced more cognitive decline she would be considered to have dementia.

Exactly what it is called at this stage probably isn't as important and seeing if there is anything that might help (Aricpet, for example) and learning to deal with the symptoms.
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There is some memory loss that is a normal part of aging, but what you're describing sounds like more than that. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that is often a precursor to Alzheimer's or another dementia, but a few people don't seem to progress out of that stage. Dementia itself is an umbrella term: it describes all the symptoms that you're seeing (among others) but isn't a disease itself. Alzheimer's is the most common disease that causes dementia, but there are many others including vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, etc.

The best thing to do is to get your mother thoroughly evaluated. She can probably hide a lot of the symptoms in a typical 15 minute appointment with her primary care doctor, but a dementia assessment will be more extensive. Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers are usually the best places to get an assessment (http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/alzheimers-disease-research-centers) but you can also ask her doctor for a referral to a neurologist or neuropsychologist.
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No matter what you call it, cognitive decline or dementia or even Alzheimer's disease, the fact is your mom's day to day activities are negatively impacted. Takeher to her primary care physician for an evaluation. Write down your observations and give to the doctor. A plan needs to be developed to keep mom safe in the least restrictive environment, hopefully her home.
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