Are you caring for your aging parent? Are you aware that memory loss may just be a part of the aging process? Do you know whether your parent has informed his or her physician if he or she is experiencing memory issues? How do you know when memory issues are serious enough to warrant intervention? We would like to share and discuss some warning signs your aging parent may need memory care soon.

• You notice a change in the appearance of your parent. Often, declining mental status frequently results in appearance changes. These changes may include your parent forgetting to bathe, or not caring about appearance, or continuously wearing the same outfit. These actions may occur either because your parent forgets to tend to hygiene or is confused regarding the steps involved in good hygiene. You know your parent best and thus you are in a good position to evaluate a significant change in appearance.

• You begin to notice that your parent is losing weight. Weight loss can result from several causes when a person is experiencing severe dementia. The simplest reason may be forgetting to eat. However, your parent may be getting lost on the way to the market or your parent has misplaced his or her credit cards or has had them turned off because he or she has failed to pay the credit card payment. It may be a combination of these factors that may make the process of shopping for and eating food feel too overwhelming. Then the individual may simply try to survive on the food they have. If you notice a sudden unexplained weight loss, begin to engage your parent in a conversation about meals and grocery shopping. For safety reasons, you should also determine whether there are any risks of cooking related injuries, including burns or leaving the stove on, which may require immediate intervention.

• You suspect your parent may not be taking his or her medication. Have you noticed pills piling up? Has your parent been experiencing medical symptoms from not taking the proper medications, such as suddenly increased blood pressure or elevated blood sugar? This could be due to the fact that he or she is forgetting to take his or her medications.

• Your parent is starting to get lost. Wandering and getting lost during routine routes are primary signs of dementia. Do you suspect this is occurring with your parent? Have you tried to talk about it? Your parent may be unwilling to discuss it out of fear or shame, or his or her memory loss may result in him or her being too confused to fully comprehend the situation. If you suspect wandering or getting lost, visit your parent at a different time or ask neighbors to call you if they see anything out of the ordinary.

• Your parent often seems agitated. Memory loss is emotionally stressful. If your parent does not seem himself or herself, appears easily angered, or begins lashing out, he or she may be experiencing memory loss. This memory decline may result in your parent accusing family members and friends of stealing as an explanation for misplacing things. Do not take it personally if your parent accuses you of stealing, instead, it may be time to call his or her doctor.

If you observe the symptoms mentioned above in your parent, first make sure he or she is in a safe environment and check on him or her more frequently. Next, speak with his or her physician who will provide you guidance in getting him or her appropriate memory care.

Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive probate, trust, Medicaid, asset protection and elder care legal help in central Ohio. Our office can assist with the planning necessary to achieve their goals. While it may feel like an uncomfortable topic to broach, in the long run, helping loved ones plan for their future is critical. Elder care attorneys can help families navigate specialized areas of the law, including matters of long term care, social security, and health care directives, so loved ones get what they need no matter where they are in the continuum of care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.