Common destinations like the grocery store, the bank, or their church should be routine routes for your parent. If you find they can no longer find their way to these destinations, it's a big red flag that something is wrong. Gwyther explains that if you can no longer trust your loved one's ability to navigate their own town, it might be time to discuss moving into an assisted living facility for safety's sake.
Towering heaps of unopened mail can be another clear indication of growing cognitive impairment. Gwyther says to keep a close eye out for unopened envelopes from creditors or charities your parents wouldn't normally donate to. This can be a red flag that they've lost control of their judgment when it comes to smart spending, which can drive them into debt rapidly if it goes unnoticed.
A cluttered house isn't necessarily a bad sign if your parent was always a bit messy, explains Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, director of the Institute of Gerontology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute.
Dr. Lichtenberg is a national expert in financial capacity assessment and financial exploitation of older adults. He has published articles on psychological vulnerability and fraud and on his new instrument the Lichtenberg Financial Decision Making Rating Scale. He is currently engaged with colleagues from multiple disciplines in examining the validity of his new scale, a screening scale and an informant scale. He has conducted independent medical evaluations and expert witness work over 75 times in the past 10 years on issues related to older adults and capacity.
However, if they suddenly begin letting order slide after a lifetime of cleanliness, it might be a sign of an underlying cognitive issue. Additionally, watch out for items showing up in strange places around the home, like a gallon of milk in the dishwasher instead of the refrigerator. According to Dr. Lichtenberg, changes like these are often some of the clearest signs of dementia, and they could be a clue that your loved one is no longer in a position where it's safe to be home alone.
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For someone with dementia or Alzheimer's, remembering all of the cognitive steps involved with taking a shower every day isn't always the no-brainer you believe it to be. It may be difficult for them to understand why they need to take a shower and how to do it, leaving them with an unhealthy hygiene routine. ''You can tell them that it looks like they need a shower, but they just don't see it,' Gwyther says. That said, not all grooming practices are essential—here's what you can let go.
Raising the subject of moving to a residential care facility can be a hard conversation to have with aging parents, but sometimes, it's the only way to keep them safe and healthy. These are the signs that suggest it's time.If you notice your parent is looking thinner than usual, it may be a sign that they're not eating well, which could be a sign of the beginning of a cognitive illness.. Individuals suffering from a memory impairment, such asAlzheimer's, often either forget to eat certain meals or forget how to properly manage and cook their food, causing them to lose weight. If this is the case, you might want to discuss the possibility of moving your loved one into an assisted living facility, where you can feel confident that they will receive all of their nutrients each day.