Ways Seniors Can Hide Dementia Symptoms
You’re not alone if you have a parent, family member or friend who is experiencing memory loss. Figuring out if it is memory loss associated with aging, or a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia may be the challenge. Read on about the ways the elderly may try to hide cognitive decline, and why it’s important for you to get them testing and the help they need.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are scary diseases that can steal a person’s identity and personality. No one wants to lose themselves to disease, so no wonder then that many seniors use denial, changing the subject or compensate for symptoms.
The signs of dementia can be subtle at first. Mom has trouble finding the right words for familiar things, or Dad forgets to pay the bills. If the problems with memory are coming more frequently, it may be more than a “senior moment” and it may be time to see the doctor.
With advances in medical care for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, new treatments are being developed that can help slow the progression of the disease. But it’s important to identify the problem, and seek help in the early stages.
So here are some ways the elderly may try and hide the symptoms of dementia:
- Refusal to do something they once loved. Refusal to participate in a hobby, play a game that was once simple, or refusal to try something new can signal a problem. Dementia makes it hard to remember familiar things, and even more difficult to learn something new.
- Covering up problems. This one involves the spouse or partner. Whether it’s having trouble driving or remembering names of loved ones, the spouse steps in and takes over the driving, finishes sentences or makes excuses for their loved one.
- Denial of their own cognitive impairment. Insisting “I’m fine.” “Everyone my age is forgetful.” “It’s no big deal.” “I’m just tired.” Can all be answers of denial when it’s obvious there’s a problem. Denying there’s a problem and making excuses is a form of self-protection for the elder. They don’t want to face what could be a scary future.
- Keeping it a secret for fear of having to leave their home. No one wants to lose their freedom and independence, and some seniors will go to great lengths to hide the fact they are going downhill. No two people are the same, so adult children need to be on the lookout for signs of memory loss and cognitive deterioration in their parents.
- Have anosognosia. Anosognosia is a lack of awareness of impairment. This is when the person does not even know they are ill – and it affects nearly 81% of people with Alzheimer’s.
If your loved one is showing signs of dementia and starting to have difficulties with everyday living and responsibilities, it may be time to schedule a visit with a neurologist to see what’s going on. Even mild cognitive decline can be a sign that it is time to start planning for the future, if you and your parents haven’t already.
You will need to consider whether family members will care for loved ones at home, or whether assisted living may be an option when they can no longer care for themselves at home. There are many levels of care at assisted living communities like Hart Heritage Estates. Many of our residents move here when they are still relatively independent and active, but need help with some daily routines, such as remembering to take medication, practice good nutrition, etc. If cognitive decline progresses, we have special Alzheimer’s care and Dementia care sections of our assisted living facilities to tend to the special needs of our residents with dementia.
Call Hart Heritage Estates Assisted Living in Forest Hill or Street MD for more information or to schedule a tour. We provide assisted living, dementia care and respite care for families throughout the Harford County area, including Bel Air and Churchville.