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My mother's short term memory is going just a little, but she is 86 years old. She is irrritible, but also not feeling well most of the time due to a heart condition.
How do I tell? Thank you.

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Momsonlyhope - for sure get your mom's meds evaluated by a pharmacist who is skilled in the elder care arena. You can find one of them here:

Meds can have a huge impact on one's behavior and memory. And doctors (if she goes to several) may not be aware of how the meds they prescribe are interacting with other meds she's taking. Pharmacists are the ones who understand that better than anyone.
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My mom has virtually no short-term memory, but she doesn't have Alzheimers. She still can heat up her own meals and take her medicines (which I fix for her) and read the paper and do her crossword puzzles. And her personality hasn't changed, she's still got the same overall demeanor.

She's on several heart meds for atrial fib and was on Lipitor. I think these meds caused her short-term memory loss. I continually watch for things like forgetting what things are used for (like the toaster or microwave) or who people are, or if she can keep up with her activities of daily living ADLs. So far, so good. My mom needs a lot of help from me because she can't remember anything, but she's still able to live in independent living. Like tonight in our daily evening conversation, I asked her to write herself a note about the time change tonight. By the end of the conversation (maybe 10 minutes), when I asked her what she needed to do tonight, she couldn't remember. And she hadn't written herself a note (like she told me she did). So that kind of stuff can drive you nuts, but it's not Alzheimers. If she can find her note tomorrow (which she told me she wrote when I asked the 2nd time), she'll be able to turn her watch back and understand why.
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This one has me stumped too and she doesn't want me to even mention this to a doctor. She is 78 years old, lives in my home. Takes a lot of meds and is in bed most of the time. Threatens to drive her car if I don't take her somewhere and I am afraid for her to drive. She forgets a lot of things, takes her meds wrong even after I put them in her med compartments. Won't let me take control of certain of her meds. Has serious mood changes from hour to hour. I just don't know what to think or what to handle this.
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That's a really tough question. Many times we miss what might be the first signs because we're not looking for them. I would suggest you go to the Alzheimer's Association website at alz.org and click on "Alzheimer's & Dementia" on the top menu. On the left side of that screen you'll find another menu, one item of which is "Know the 10 Signs". This will probably help you out.

Also, does your Mom take any meds for her heart condition? My Dad had heart-related surgery about 6 years ago. Some of the meds he was given afterward had side effects much like what you listed about your Mom - short term memory problems, confusion, agitation, etc. You might want to check on this also.
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