Have you noticed your senior loved one occasionally forgetting what they were about to say or having difficulty recalling names and retrieving specific words? Maybe you’ve witnessed them misplacing items or becoming distracted. Typically, there is no need to fret. For the 40% of people over the age of sixty-five that experience age-related memory impairment, this type of forgetfulness can generally be attributed to the effects of aging. In fact, age-related memory impairment is caused by natural changes in the brain. The brain's volume peaks in our early twenties and then gradually declines as we age.
For those that are experiencing signs of dementia, the idea of reaching out for help from a loved one or physician can be quite scary. Often, those noticing the early stages of dementia don’t want to come to terms with the idea that they may be experiencing something beyond the basic forgetfulness that comes with age. A dementia diagnosis is devastating and life-altering, but getting help sooner than later can slow down its progression and prevent accidents and other consequences of dementia behaviors.
The following behaviors may be an indication that your loved one is hiding dementia symptoms:
Showing a Lack of Interest- Your loved one may suddenly refuse to participate in an activity, hobby, or household chore that they previously enjoyed because they may be having difficulty remembering how to do them.
Neglecting Self-Care and Hygiene Habits- Suddenly skipping showers, wearing the same clothes day after day, or not caring about their personal appearance are signs that your loved one may be experiencing depression, a symptom of dementia.
Lying About Difficulties- It’s not uncommon for those experiencing dementia symptoms to lie when confronted about noticeable changes in behavior. For example, your loved one may be having trouble driving, managing their finances, or remembering the names of family members and friends and be unwilling to admit to these difficulties when brought to their attention.
Losing Track of Time- If your loved one is suddenly forgetting about weekly appointments, major holidays, or significant life events like birthdays and anniversaries, they may be having trouble keeping track of time. This is an early sign of dementia that is easy for your loved one to downplay.
Do you have suspicions that your loved one may be covering up dementia symptoms? If so, be on the lookout for these other behaviors:
Difficulty finding words, accompanied by pauses, and using words in the wrong context
Having trouble with executive functioning skills, including planning, organizing, and completing multi-step tasks
Experiencing episodes of confusion and disorientation or getting lost while driving
Disregarding social norms in public
Difficulty with coordination, balance, and motor functions
Not having an awareness of memory issues and cognitive changes
If you’ve shared your concerns with your loved one and they have been unreceptive, it may be time to consult a medical professional. Your loved one may be more willing to accept advice and information from their doctor. Taking the steps towards getting answers will provide you and your loved one with a plan of action and some peace of mind.