For Caregivers Who Deal with Changes in Memory or Function

A recent article published by The National Institute on Aging points out that it can sometimes be challenging to recognize changes in someone’s cognitive ability.

Consider, if you do not see an aging friend or relative often, changes in his or her health may seem dramatic. In contrast, the primary caregiver might not notice such changes or realize that more help, medical treatment, or supervision is needed.

Similarly, a caregiver who is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia might sometimes find it easier to cover for the person—doing things for him or her, filling in information in conversations, and so on—than to acknowledge what is happening.

Of course, some changes may not be the sign of a bigger problem. For example, occasional forgetfulness does not necessarily indicate dementia. Before you raise the issue of what needs to be done, talk to your parent / loved one and the primary caregiver about your concerns.

Try not to sound critical when you raise the subject. Instead, mention your particular worry, for example, “Mom, it looks like you don’t have much food in the house—are you having trouble getting to the store?” and explain why you are asking. Listen to what the primary caregiver says about the situation and whether he or she believes there are problems.