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What to Do When Mom's Memory Slips


My mother's memory is slipping a little bit.  It's not serious, but I'm starting to notice she's a bit forgetful.  Should I do anything about it?


While it is normal that an older brain is not quite as elastic as a young one,  if you notice memory problems, you are identifying a change that generally requires attention.  

I am not referring to walking into a room and forgetting what you are looking for.  We all do that.  Losing one's keys is not at all unusual.

Now, if your mother is having trouble recognizing family members, getting lost on her way home from the grocery store, or having trouble remembering what she did this morning, she is indeed having memory problems.  Other common signs that something is not right are when someone is confused about the day of the week, how to prepare food, or what bills to pay (if they remember to pay at all).

The first thing you should do is make an appointment with her physician. 

Changes in physical or mental condition need to be evaluated, and an exam is needed to determine what is happening to her. Make sure to bring all of her medications along, and bring a list of what you are observing her do.  Write down any changes that might be going on in her life (i.e., family, move, or medication).   Are you witnessing anything unusual about her routine?  When did this start?  Try to be specific with the information you provide.

There are a variety of reasons for memory problems. Some of these are depression, sleep deprivation, medication mismanagement, head injury, nutritional deficiency, and infection.  Before you draw a conclusion, seek the advice of her primary care physician. A written history can be very helpful to determine what is causing her memory problems.  The sooner you seek this advice, the better, because intervention may be possible depending on what the cause is.

You are right to be concerned about memory loss.  It is not normal and needs your attention.  Collect your information, write it down, and join your mother in a visit with her doctor.  

I wish you the best.

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