I guess you could say that the precursor to Mom being diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment started with memory issues.
the first inkling of a memory issue
My mom and I were sitting at a table eating dinner with a group of co-workers when she asked the woman across from me what she did. Mary answered and conversation around the table continued. A while later, Mom asked Mary again what she did and Mary kindly answered.
This repetition occurred again later in the evening, a few more times, with Mom completely oblivious to the fact that she had already asked. I was embarrassed. Thankfully, in talking with Mary the next day, she was not bothered by it.
Gradually, over the course of several months, I saw and heard many instances of Mom repeating herself. I would say, “Mom, you already told me that.” (I have since learned a response like that is not recommended.) Mom would just pass it off and say that’s what old people do. After all, she was 80 at that point.
glitches in the memory
One of the more concerning situations was when Mom got lost on her way home from where I was living at the time. A route she had taken many times.
I figured Mom would be home in 90 minutes and our routine was to call to let the other know we had arrived. Well, she never answered the phone at home. So I waited and called again. Still no answer. I waited some more and tried again. Finally, she answered the phone and told me that she didn’t know where to turn to get home and ended up going a long way out of the way. Actually, it’s a miracle she even found her way home going the way she did!
What made this a cause for concern was that it was out of character for Mom. On all of our family vacations she was the navigator. The one who looked at the maps, planned our route and told my dad where to turn. The route she was to take home was a route she had travelled many times, with myself, with my dad and by herself. Why this time did she mess up?
Here is another example of the repetition and the forgetfulness. There were times when I’d be in the car with her and she would make the comment that she didn’t remember so & so being on that corner. “How long has that been there?” she would ask. My mom had lived in the same city since she was a senior in high school. We’re talking 60+ years at that point in time and now she’s telling me she didn’t know where familiar places were!
Before I moved back home to live with Mom I would call to check in with her. I would ask what she had for dinner or if she had eaten anything. There were a few times where she would tell me that she couldn’t figure out how to work the microwave or the oven.
mild cognitive impairment
I didn’t document any of this at the time and I didn’t write down the details of exactly when we did this, but at some point I was able to get an appointment with a neurologist. After undergoing a lengthy testing session she did end up with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment or otherwise known as MCI.
What exactly is MCI? According to the Mayo Clinic, MCI is characterized by problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than age-related changes, but are not severe enough to interfere with day to day living.
Other changes that might be noticed or observed:
forgetting events & missed appointments
difficulty with name recall
lose train of thought or conversation thread
I didn’t notice problems with language or judgment at that point in Mom’s life. Only the memory.
normal aging memory issues or dementia?
Back to Mom’s comment about being old and old people forgetting things. The indicators I noticed were not “normal” old age. Family members can tell the difference and are often the first to notice the memory lapses. Her behavior was not like the Mom I knew. It was different.
In hindsight, I wish I had made note of when she was diagnosed. But then again, does it really matter?
Suffice it to say, that Mom’s journey down the Alzheimer’s road lasted about 10 years. It could have been longer because it’s hard to really pinpoint exactly when my family started noticing things out of the ordinary.
What about your loved one? What was your first inkling of a glitch in the memory? What memory issue did you notice that was out of the ordinary for your loved one? Hit reply and let me know.