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Now What?...How Forgetful Does Mom Have To Be?

Judie Rappaport
November 14, 2011

 “Mom (82) lives alone at home. She frequently becomes too confused to remember her favorite TV program, her phone number, or even to eat. I finally got courageous and made her an appointment for Alzheimer’s testing, but now I’m afraid I’ve made a mistake. Yesterday, after 20 minutes of explaining “why” she needed a diagnosis, I said, “Mom, I’ll prove it to you. When you put down a book you’re reading and pick it up to read next day, can you remember the last page you read?” Her answer blew me away, “Hell, no! That’s why I use a bookmark!”   Then she said, “See, I don’t need any dumb tests.” Now what?


No doubt about it, Mom definitely won that round! However, one “reasonable” answer isn’t the same as a definitive diagnosis to determine the cause of her memory loss. There are over 50 conditions that can cause Mom’s confusion and memory loss; some are reversible, many others are treatable. Without treatment Mom may lose her quality of life.


If you need more convincing, try changing your question:  


1. Is Mom unable to correctly recite her name, address, or phone number? Y N   
2. Does Mom need help calling 911 or evacuating her home in emergencies? Y N

3. Has Mom fallen? Does she appear confused, dazed, or injured and therefore at risk for another fall?

4. Is Mom frightened because she perceives danger in living alone? Y N
5. Does Mom appear to be in pain or exhibit significant physical weakness? Y N
6. Is there a strong urine odor in the home? Y N
7. Have you observed bruises that could be attributed to abuse or falls? Y N

8. Is the food in Mom’s refrigerator spoiled or inedible, or is the refrigerator empty?



If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, Mom is at risk and unsafe alone. Accompany Mom to her physician for a definitive diagnosis. 


Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight, & Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©


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