Imagine you’ve started experiencing problems recognizing people or completing tasks that have always been familiar to you: remembering loved ones’ names, how to get to the grocery store, or even how to write out a check. It feels like something is wrong, but you are afraid to admit that for fear of what might happen. Or imagine watching this scenario play out with your spouse of 40 or 50 years. You don’t want to be separated from each other so you find ways to hide their condition.
This is why older adults and their spouses may hide symptoms that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease or similar forms of dementia. If you suspect something is wrong with a parent or other loved one’s cognitive well-being, here are a few ways seniors often hide the symptoms.
Hiding the Signs and Symptoms of Memory Loss
- Covering up: Out of fear and uncertainty, spouses often cover up what would otherwise be obvious signs of memory loss. They do this by providing verbal cues and hand gestures to their partner, talking over a spouse who isn’t making sense, or finishing the spouse’s sentences.
- Self-isolating: Withdrawing from family, friends, hobbies, social groups, and even religious organizations is another step a senior or their spouse might take to hide the signs of dementia. By avoiding others, they believe they can keep people from discovering there is a problem.
- Making excuses: Another method a senior or their spouse might use is to make excuses for their memory loss or confusion. They might attribute it to something like insomnia, a sinus infection, or a headache. Most of us can relate to being a little forgetful when we aren’t feeling our best, so this diversion might work for a while.
- Giving up driving: An adult with early-stage Alzheimer’s might get lost going to and from familiar destinations. That can be frightening. To eliminate the risk of it happening again, they might give up driving. They may use an excuse such as other drivers are too aggressive or their car insurance is just too expensive.
- Denying changes: A senior or their spouse might deny there is a problem. They may become angry or defensive if a loved one tries to broach the subject. In doing so, they are likely trying to make the concerned family member feel bad about suggesting there is a problem. The senior might think it will keep their friends and family from asking again.
In addition to the safety issues that might arise when a decline in a senior’s cognitive health is kept hidden is the fact that the disease will be more advanced when it is finally diagnosed. Sometimes that diagnosis comes as the result of an emergency, such as the senior wandering from home or the spouse ending up in the hospital from a stress-related condition. This forces the family to find a senior care solution amidst a crisis.
If an older adult in your life is living with Alzheimer’s, Five Star Senior Living can help. Our memory care neighborhoods provide a safe, supportive environment utilizing Montessori-based dementia programming. Call the Five Star community nearest you to schedule a private visit to learn more!