This is the most frequent question I hear from friends, colleagues as well as posed at dementia-related educational events. I first heard it from two girlfriends at lunch and shared a general summary about this question, but wanted to offer a simple response now that I have been immersed in this community for several years.
Any change in behavior by a loved one should start by a visit to their doctor. There are a variety of things that could cause changes (medication, lack of sleep, other medical conditions) and not necessarily dementia. However, I do advise you to take mom to the doctor and have a discussion about the changes. My mom dismissed my concerns when I went to the doctor with her. After managing as the medical advocate for both of my parents, I know and have had many doctors and nurses confirm that family is the best resource. Often, dementia won’t be diagnosed until later in the disease progression and early treatment could help slow the advance of the disease.
If you are asking the question, I assume you have a suspicion and hope that you will try to help get your mom to a doctor to determine what could be the cause for the change in behavior. It might be something very treatable.
Looking back, I now recognize so many issues and signs that alerted us to mom’s dementia, but it was a long difficult road to even get to a diagnosis for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being my mom and dad fought to keep their independence fiercely. I arrived when I was given the opportunity to help them. I just hope that I won’t repeat history if I find myself with the same condition. Wished.