Mental decline in the elderly is an extremely difficult thing to deal with both for the patient and the family involved. As we age (especially into our 80s and 90s), there is usually a slight mental decline that can be noticed by the family members and friends that are closest to us. The development of Alzheimer's disease can be subtle at first, and can be mistaken for natural changes with age. However, the increasing forgetfulness, and occasional confusion can be a sign of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.
Another cause of increased forgetfulness and a distant attitude is depression
. Depression in older adults is very common and is often mistaken for dementia. This is something that will need to be considered when your grandmother is being evaluated.
Since it is not clear whether your grandmother has obvious mental decline, I suggest that she first schedule an appointment with her primary care physician
. He or she can perform a mental status exam which will be able to tell if she is showing true mental decline or just natural aging. In addition, her doctor
can screen her for depression to make sure this is not a component of her problem.