Every career person has at some time said I wish I had known about so and so when I was first starting my business! For me, the one thing I wish I had known more about before I started taking care of elderly friends is that dementia doesn’t happen overnight. 

Dementia doesn’t show it’s cards all at once. In my observation, it starts with a few missed appointments, a little extra Dementia, alzheimers, the signsforgetfulness and then when you ask about them, there will be defensiveness and an argument over when the actual date of that missed appointment. There will not be an admission of error but instead anger and anxiety coupled with the odd outburst at times that seem inappropriate. 

At first, these incidents may occur at random, and then perhaps nothing out of the ordinary happens for a month. Everything will seem just fine. Then, out of the blue as you and your loved one are enroute to a shopping trip or doctor’s appointment, you could be faced with the question of where are we going when it has already been discussed.  This will take you off guard, but if you challenge them in any way, your loved one is apt to tell you with absolute conviction to get out and leave me alone!! 

Let me give you an example. Not long ago I had a client tell me that she drove to Georgia to check on her parents because she hadn’t seen them for a while and felt the need to visit in person. Although they love each other, hers was not a family that placed a high value on keeping in touch. When she went for her visit and started asking why the house was so askew and why would her parents buy new windows for an old house when it was obvious the roof repairs, her parents became defense and told her to leave. Which against her better judgement,she did.

Because she knew that I worked with seniors, she called me and we talked about what had occurred. I explained to her that based upon my experience her parents were quite likely to be in the beginning  stages of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other types of frontal lobe deterioration that affect judgment . 

I explained that she should in short order investigate their situation. Find out if her parents had retained an attorney to set up their affairs. Inquire as to whether they have a will, Estate or a financial advisor. It was of imperative importance to check all of their asset accounts to see if they have made any unusual withdrawals or payments from their accounts. Seniors of their generation are already too trusting, add in deteriorating mental faculties and these people are very vulnerable to fraud.

I have a client who is a surgeon and didn’t notice her Moms dementia had gradually increased. She thought the reason her mom had been refusing her help with her taxes was because her mother was paranoid and selfish. In fact what had happened was someone posed as her Mother’s broker and told her about a great tax free plan in Panama … Six hundred thousand dollars of her estate was missing by the time the family chose to ignore the irrational objections and to get involved.

Be prepared, it is smart to get your parents physicians and attorney numbers and wills before they start to have memory issues. If you have not done so yet you may want to look at their RX bottles and jot down names of the prescribing physician. Go with them to get a Power of Attorney that you can register with their physicians which allows the doctors to disclose information to you. You could ask their doc to order a memory test and discuss a plan with both of you. Odd behavior should truly be a red flag, and don’t dismiss it out of hand, Get your loved ones the help they need and deserve. 


Valentina Boonstra

care giver, exercise coach, personal trainer, care taker, palm bay, melbourne

About Brevard Massage

I have been a personal trainer and massage therapist for many years now. My specialty is getting people moving again. I have learned through the years that preventing injuries is as important as relieving pain after an injury. To that end, I have also learned Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Pilates.