Patricia Spivey PsyD
Note – For the purpose of this article I am addressing “dementia” in general. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia. By definition, dementia is a progressive decline in mental functioning, usually due to a disease process.
My mother started showing signs of dementia in her mid to late 70’s. I knew she was in the early stages because I was a psychologist specializing in that field. My siblings disagreed with me at first, stating she was just showing normal aging. They were in denial and that is common. She lived to age 90, and went through many phases of what we now know was Alzheimer’s Disease. She experienced almost all the typical stages and symptoms you will find in the text books on dementia. Living through all these phases is a struggle, and you find yourself not knowing where you are in the course of it. Making decisions about care level as the disease evolves, is difficult. In my mother’s case, she did not live alone. But when a loved one lives alone, it can be dangerous to allow a high level of independence too long.
The following information about symptoms in the early stages of dementia may help you decide when your parent or relative needs to be evaluated.
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