I have cared for two parents with dementia and in many conversations I have someone share “My Mom repeats herself, but she doesn’t have dementia.”

I started in the same place several years ago. You just notice something is different, but you don’t know what it is exactly or what, if anything, you can do about it.

I noticed that my mom would repeat herself, and my Dad was less talkative and seemed depressed. Both of my parents had changing behaviors which is a signal that something is wrong. When my parents were first diagnosed, I was confused on the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The common office test given is called the mini–mental state examination (MMSE) or Folstein test. It’s 30 questions and is really only going to capture someone who is moderately impaired. The only true early detection system will be your own observations of someone who you know well. My parents scored in the high 20’s over the course of two years – even when the administering doctor could tell something was not cognitively right with my parents. A better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses was revealed when they were given a Neuropsychological Evaluation. This test takes around 2 hours.

I hope you will consider that any change in your parents could be an early warning signal to future more complicated cognitive issues, some which might be reversible. The more you can do early, the better off everyone will be.