In the past couple of years I’ve been reading a lot about dementia since my MIL has been diagnosed with mixed dementia and we’re her remote caregivers.

One of the female members in my senior center’s singing group is exhibiting some of the early signs of dementia that we wish we had recognized years ago with MIL so the family could have made plans.

I don’t know this member well enough and I wonder if I should somehow suggest that her family should have her evaluated with minicog test.

I read somewhere that 1/3 of the seniors will eventually have dementia. It might happen to anyone. I was thinking this is going to happen to the many members in the senior center, and if we recognize the early signs, if we should bring it up, or how should we bring it up?

Any suggestions?

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A story:
My Mom was in a knitting club. She had dementia. I think everyone else knew it, including herself. The club welcomed her and a couple of the members took turns with reminder phone calls, picking her up, taking her home. It takes a village. Thanks to them, going to this activity was one of the highlights of her week.
It's very likely this woman's family is well aware of what's going on. I think it would be lovely if you and the other members pitched in to make this time for your friend a happy one. As your relationship gets closer, you would then be in a better position to broach your concerns with her family.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to NYCmama
my2cents Sep 21, 2021
Your mom was lucky to have people that helped her continue doing what she loved. It is best to keep anyone, dementia or not, involved. The brain is active and the socialization is much needed.
I have a friend who began to make odd choices--wearing her clothes inside out, or backwards, for example. She also began to forget names, she'd get lost out walking, etc.

Sadly, this was just pre-Covid, so I didn't see her often. When I really DID see her, I was shocked. I know her kids, so called the one I knew best and since she lived 300 miles away, she was not aware of this.

Turned out, her other daughters had been dosing her with essential oils (grrr) and she wasn't getting better. YD blew into town and had a complete cog-eval done. I know my friend is on some meds and is doing a little better, but has stopped driving and is very slowly going down that sad path of dementia.

If this had been someone I didn't know well--I don't know how involved I'd have been. It's a sensitive situation.

I agree that getting the attention of the Sr Center involved could be a good way to go.

(My friend was also a great singer and sang in Ladies Barbershop for years and years. One big tipoff was that she couldn't read the music anymore. I know I stood next to her in church choir and she was holding the (wrong piece) of music upside down. She was so baffled. That broke my heart.)
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Reply to Midkid58
Cover99 Sep 21, 2021
Did she ever get a solo?
Something else to consider is the positive effect of music on people, including those segueing into dementia.

W/o sounding critical, are you concerned for her safety, etc., or b/c she's not able to sing as well as others?   If it's the latter, perhaps the chorus leader can find ways for her to sing but be overshadowed by others, i.e., place her next to others with stronger voices, or the baritones  so that she's "drowned out."   

I think it's important that people who sing be allowed to participate in some way, to maintain self respect and/or benefit from the positive effects of music.
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Reply to GardenArtist

Be careful with this.... I don't want to say turn a blind eye but unless this is something that may put the woman in danger I think you should just watch and wait.

First I want to say that those of us who have experience with dementia tend to be hyper sensitive and see signs of mental decline wherever we look.

Secondly, unless you know this woman and her family you really have no idea whether they are blind to these changes or they are instead allowing her to carry on doing the things she enjoys as much as she possibly can. A woman from my community was accommodated by her bridge playing group for many years after she could no longer play up to the group's standard because that's what friends do.

And lastly, if her behaviour is really obviously off her family may be in denial, and no amount of outreach from an unknown, untrained busybody (which is how they'll view you) is likely to cause them to suddenly sit up and take notice. My good friend has very often told the story of how she was "floored" when her mother could not draw a clock on a short cognitive exam, and yet the community had been aware that there was a problem for years prior, and my friend had heard from several people.
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Reply to cwillie

This is a real sticky wicket. I know that one of my best friends has ASKED me to give her a heads up if I start seeing some signs of dementia so she can plan. She currently lives alone and doesn’t have regular contact with her family. Even THAT will be an imposition on my friend’s privacy! I’m not a trained neurologist! But you don’t even know this woman that well. She may already be aware and is staying as active as she can. The senior center may also be aware. If you mention something to her, you might embarrass both her and yourself, and she may stop coming to the singing group. I think someone else here also said you may be labeled a busybody.

Unless she appears to be a danger to herself or others, I personally would stay out of it. And even then I would quietly go to the person in charge. If she appears to need some help getting to and from the group, you could offer to escort her or drive her. You don’t know what else might be going on with her - a recent surgery or grief and loss can also cause some temporary changes in cognition. And I say this even knowing that many people who had some regular contact with my mother must have seen her decline (although she covered very well) and never reached out. It wouldn’t have changed anything because my mother would have refused any intervention. She even fooled Adult Protective Services a few times. It was only until she was a complete danger to herself that action was able to be taken. I know you have a good heart and are trying to help. Just walk a slow and careful path while doing so!
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Reply to Mepowers

If there is a Social Worker connected to the group or the Senior Center I would ask if a meeting could be scheduled. Just you and the Social Worker.
Before the meeting please organize your thoughts, write down specific incidents when you though possible dementia might be a consideration.
Please do not expect this to be a 2 sided conversation to a great degree. Much will be covered under confidentiality.
There might be a good possibility that the Center is aware and that the family is aware but they are allowing this person to continue with "normal" routine as long as possible, as long as it is safe to do so.
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Reply to Grandma1954

I worked with a Nurse who belonged to my Church. I had noticed small things, Mom asking me to do her bills, but put it to Mom was now in her 80s. After a meeting that Mom was in charge of, this Nurse pulled me aside and told me she was seeing signs of Dementia with Mom. Prior to this meeting my Mom had everything in order in her notebook but when the meeting started she seemed to have no idea where things were. I told the Nurse thank you. But not everyone wants to hear that a parent may have a Dementia that the child is going to need to deal with. Like Mids friend. The closest children did not want to except that Mom may have Dementia.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Just to clarify: it is not meant to exclude this member from participating in the group activities.

I only wish that years ago someone would point out my MIL’s weird behavior was not normal aging but the beginning of her dementia. since no one in the family had any experience with dementia we were truly clueless until my FIL passed away suddenly and we had to deal with the aftermath.

That’s why I was wondering if or how to bring it up to someone’s attention. it is not to exclude her from attending our group activities.

my MIL was in singing group for years but nobody said anything until I told them we’re moving her, then they all agreed it’s the right thing to do. Obviously they all saw it coming but said nothing. even if they did, my FIL would be in denial anyways.

However, if I had known about the existence of mini-cog, probably would strongly suggest have MIL tested years ago, especially after she drove her car into an open field and then a structure, and crashed the car. We all thought it was just part of aging process because she’s getting old.
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Reply to Ludmila

Ask the senior center to have regular presentations about getting all of one's paperwork in order in the case of disability to care for oneself. It's so important to designate POA, etc. Is there a social worker at the facility? If you observe things that you think might be a danger to herself or others you might want to consider informing the social worker. There is also the issue of judgment. Is she capable of handling money and financial matters. I realized that I needed to take over my mother's financial affairs when she wasn't paying her monthly bills on time and was filling out checks in a strange way.
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Reply to NancyIS

I don't think you should bring it up by telling her to go get checked out.

Her family and own Dr should be able to see it and maybe she already knows.

And, like you said you don't really know her.

What you can do. Is get to know her, be a friend, invite her to lunch, ect.
Then in one of ya's many talks, you can bring up dementia in your mom and even you talking about yourself, like how you forget things because we all do at some point forget where the keys are, ect.

Wair for this women to feel comfortable enough with you to talk about herself.
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Reply to bevthegreat

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