It’s a question that is all too common, “Mom is repeating herself, could she have dementia?” Even those who know very little about dementia typically link verbal repetition and “forgetfulness” to warning signs. With the high number of Alzheimer’s and dementia cases in the U.S., it’s a valid concern. How can you really tell if a parent is showing normal signs of aging or it’s something more? There are key components that typically set the two apart.
When verbal repetition may be a warning sign
Whether it’s a story or a statement, most of us repeat ourselves from time to time without noticing. This is especially true the older we become. According to studies, older people are more likely than younger people to forget with whom they’ve shared information.
Below are 5 signs that may indicate that the verbal repetition you are hearing may be more than normal age related progression.
- Stories or phrases are repeated within the same conversation.
- The same question is asked multiple times throughout the day.
- He or she seems confused, jumbles words or has difficulty following the flow of a conversation.
- Repetition is paired with forgetfulness that is affecting daily life.
- Mom or dad has become more quiet or reclusive since you noticed verbal and or mental changes.
Can it be dementia be if my parent has clear memories of the past?
Yes. It is very common for those with dementia to recall long term memories. They may be able to paint a crystal clear picture of an event that happened years ago but cannot tell you what they had for breakfast. This is often because Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s typically affects short-term memory first in the beginning stages. Even in mid to late stages, it is not uncommon for a person to recall the words to favorite songs of the past or memories that made an impact on them such as their wedding or special childhood memories.
What you can do to help.
If you have concerns, schedule a doctors visit. Questionnaire tests can be given to help evaluate if your loved one is having cognitive issues related to dementia. One widely used test is the mini mental state examination (MMSE). Remember that if your loved one is repeating herself, this is something that is out of their control. Be careful of using words or tone of voice that can make them feel ashamed, embarrassed or scolded for repeating or forgetting. Instead, seek the help of a professional and find was to be supportive, loving and patient.