Identifying Brain Change

Identifying Brain Change

When things begin to change in the brain, it can be confusing as to what is happening and if it is something which requires taking a closer look.  “Is what I see normal aging or just the person being a little more confused?”  “Is it something of concern?” These are questions that you may be asking yourself as a caregiver, so we wrote this article to discuss ways for identifying brain change so you are better informed on what may or may not be normal.

When someone gets older, the red flag that determines whether this is a significant development in the person’s life or not is if this is a change for the person.  The AD8 is a set of questions that will help determine if changes are something that requires a closer look.

Often families and loved ones notice changes in a person but because the changes are small and come on slowly, the significance can be missed until there is a crisis at hand. Below are some examples that may be helpful in alerting you to an important sign.

Indicators Of Brain Change

Have you ever observed a loved one experiencing any of the following brain change indicators?


  • Someone who walks out without paying
  • Repeats a story, question, action
  • Looks to spouse for the answer
  • Who is the person? (everything we know about them including what kind of day they were having)
  • Gets lost

Challenges with planning or problem solving

  • Saying I cant use my computer because it doesn’t work anymore
  • Saying I don’t cook because I am tired
  • Turns in a document and does not understand the errors

Difficulty starting, taking the appropriate steps, and/or completing a task

  • Unable to count change or handing the cashier a handful of bills to pay for a small item
  • Someone pulls into a church parking lot when going to get gas
  • Walking home and leaving the car in the store parking lot

Confusion of time and place

  • Thinking it is time to go to work in the middle of the night
  • Wanting to go home when they are already at home
  • Being confused about the building they are in, for example; thinking the hospital is a prison
  • Thinking they are at home while actually in a restaurant

Trouble understanding visual signs and spatial relationships

  • Not understanding which direction an arrow is pointing
  • Difficulty with traffic lights
  • Sitting on the arm rest of a chair rather than the seat
  • Difficulty placing items safely on a counter, table, or self

New problems with words in speaking or writing

  • Difficulty finding a specific word
  • Using vague words like “the thing”
  • Talking around a word “you go down there then turn it on and go”

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

  • Going into a building and not being able to find their way out.
  • Putting car keys in the freezer
  • Going to church and not knowing why they are there

Decreased or poor judgement

  • Driving when they have had several accidents
  • Spending money on unnecessary large purchases
  • Contributing to online scams

Withdrawal from work or social activities

  • Not going to choir practice because “no one knows how to sing”
  • Not letting anyone in the house because people are stealing
  • Not cooking because “I’m tired”
  • Withdrawing from a social or work group because “it’s boring” or “ they don’t act right anymore”

Changes in mood and personality

  • Becoming angry when this is out of character
  • Dramatic swings in mood
  • Laughing or crying for apparently “no reason”
  • If sad, not being able to be comforted
  • Speaking out at inappropriate times

All these are possible indicators of brain change. If you or your loved notice several of these indicators, we’d recommend you consult a doctor for further evaluation.

Orchard at Brookhaven is Senior Living Community in Atlanta that is here to help families and loved ones when they notice changes. We have a trained staff and consultants that will help provide the support and guidance needed for people experiencing brain change. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a tour, please contact us.