What dies 'alert' mean?
Very often, posters will come here about their problems and mention that "he/she is still alert." Therefore, dementia is not a problem.
Alertness is not the problem. They can still be alert, carry on a conversation, keep track of the money, bank book, etc. BUT, somewhere along the way, they have lost a sense of logical thought, common sense and decision making. And that is the problem...not lack of alertness. That's when they can get to cause problems.
When your loved one starts to do things that are really not the sort of thing that a clear thinking person would do, you should start watching more closely. It may be a few years, but that's a danger sign. It's an alert, but muddled mind.
I have used my mother as an example many times. She was an intellegent, alert person, but there were many weird things. For example, she was the head of a big accounting department...intellegent, right? OK, one day she went out an bought a case (yes, a big box) of toilet bowl deodorizers. Brought them back to the office and gave them out to her employees. Yes, things were beginning to go wrong, but she was still "alert" That was not the action of a rational person.
That year, she gave me two bras for Christmas. One was a 32-A and the other was a 40-D. She couldn't see what the problem was...they were adjustable. She showed me how to move the thingie on the straps so they would fit.. Alert, Yes. Common sense? No. She also had a pair of my shoes from when I was about three years old, silver plated and gave them to my oldest son to take to college. She said he could use them to put pencils in. Not your usual sensible thing to give a boy going off to college.
I could go on and on about this...she was capable of ordering her husband's medication...and then she hid it. When she went to a NH, we found bottles and bottles of pills and liquids hidden all over the house.. She even put them in places where she would need a chair to climb up on. Alert? Yes.
So, forget about your loved one being "alert." Dementia could still be starting. The sooner you recognise the problem, the easier it will be to cope with it.