As we approach the holidays, it is important that we remind our readers that at Commonwealth Senior Living, we are not just associates caring for residents, handling the business operations, and leading the teams. We are also sons and daughters, husbands and wives of those struggling with dementia. The following story comes from one of our own.
“I got the call from my sister in early September. Mom missed a mortgage payment and could not figure out where to send the check. Then it was discovered that her credit card was missing, and she didn’t know when she had lost it, where it could be, or even what company to call and report it to. But she’d lost more than the card. She was losing words and losing weight. The strong woman who raised us was so thin that I could feel the ribs in her back the first night I saw her.
While we waited in the doctor’s office, Mom chatted about the weather, her dog and the birds in the yard. Nervous energy and an unshakeable belief in positive thinking has kept her perpetually smiley and people-pleasing, even in the most difficult of life’s situations. Her doctor began her second cognitive test, and seeing her struggle with questions like “what month is it?” and “where would you place the hands on this clock to read 1:50” felt like punches to the stomach.
As days went on, there were more tests. The running around drained her. Finally, her doctor went over her test results, indicated that her thyroid levels were off, and there was a chance that hyperthyroidism could be causing the dementia. Mom’s optimism soared. This could be reversible. The MRI did not show damage yet. But at the end of the appointment, Mom asked, “When will we talk about the thyroid issue?”
Our situation is not unique. Over 5 million Americans are living with dementia right now. Many will be visiting them over the holidays regardless of COVID. If you will be visiting with family, keep an eye out for the following signs they may be struggling:
- An unkept home. Piles of laundry, dirty floors, visibly dusty surfaces and dishes in the sink may be a sign that the household chores have become too much.
- Unpaid bills. This is often an early sign that cognition may be slipping. Individuals who were once fastidious bookkeepers may have a hard time staying on top of multi-step tasks.
- Noticeable weight gain or loss. When individuals are forgetting to eat (or forgetting they’ve eaten), a change in weight may present itself. This is often the case for seniors living alone.
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed. When seniors are struggling with memory loss, they often retreat from the activities they used to relish. This may be a sign of depression or that they simply are no longer to able to maintain the quick decision making this activity requires. Rather than attempt and become frustrated, they decline.
These are just a few signs a loved one may need help. For a full guide on the 10 Signs a Loved One May Need Memory Care, reach out to the community nearest you. If you are unsure what type of support your loved one needs, this complimentary assessment will provide options based on your unique situation: