How do you recognize when someone might be operating at a limited mental capacity or has the onset of a dementia-related illness?
It can be difficult to acknowledge that a parent is getting older, having remembered them spry and active. Little things can easily be overlooked as mom or dad just having an “off day.” But we need to be aware, as children, advisors or friends that it may be more than just an off day.
Here’s quick checklist that can help spot warning signs of cognitive decline. The five-point mnemonic MEMRI helps determine if parent or loved one should receive a further medical evaluation:
- M = Memory Lapses. Signs include: Forgetting familiar names, demonstrating “word-finding difficulties,” inability to retain new information.
- E = Emotional Liability. Signs include: Anger flashes, impulsive behavior, inappropriate risk taking.
- M = Math Loss. Signs include: Difficulty with simple calculations like making change or balancing a checkbook.
- R = Recognition Lacking. Signs include: Inability to recognize familiar faces or places including being found wandering or lost; missing or not remembering scheduled appointments; neglecting their appearance when it was never an issue in the past.
- I = Insight Limited. Signs include: Is your client indifferent or “irrationally dismissive” at the mention of possible dementia issues? The checklist states that when confronted, a person without insight will find a way to talk around the issue, the same way they might with concerned friends and family.
If you notice any or all of the foregoing on a not so seldom basis, it may be time to take action for your parent or loved one. Hopefully a comprehensive plan covering finances, legal, housing and care is already in place. If not, this is the time to get started. Do some homework and seek out professional assistance.