My 81 year old mother had a left frontal lobe hemorrhagic stroke 3 months ago. Until that time, she lived independently about 30 miles away. We've moved her to our town quickly. She still has aphasia & continues to receive speech therapy & is depressed over the sudden changes. Her cognition can change day to day and it's hard to determine what may be related to the aphasia or dementia. How can I access her level of cognition? her dr. Ok'd her to drive based on her physical recovery.

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I’m sorry that she had a stroke! So, I think what you’re asking is how you know what’s dementia and what’s not on any given day? That’s a hard thing to determine. There are a number of mental status and memory exams you could do, but her aphasia would make it really tough. I would look up the “clock draw” and “trail making” tests because those don’t require speech or the ability to understand or process language. They’ll give you an idea of her dementia. You could also do them a couple different times (or, better yet, bring her to a neurologist) so you can track her recovery. Other than that, just treat her as a woman in recovery who could have some dementia. I’m wondering why the doctor is giving her the ok to drive–just keep a close watch on her abilities in that area. Hope this answers your question. (If not, just write in again.)

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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