When a senior suddenly feels forgetful or watches their spouse show possible signs of memory loss, fear sometimes takes over. Rather than sharing what they are experiencing or seeing, they resort to covering things up or pretending nothing is wrong. This is often due to fear. Sharing their thoughts with family, friends or even a physician might result in them having to leave home or drastically change their level of independence.
Sometimes, family members must attempt some detective work. This helps them to determine if their loved one is hiding possible memory declines. Knowing what to look for makes this task easier. It can help you to approach the senior and get them the help they need.
Hiding a Spouse’s Concerns
If one spouse is trying to hide what they believe is dementia for another spouse, they often start speaking for them. One spouse talking for another is common among the elderly. However, when it happens constantly, this is often a sign that something is wrong. Indications that this is happening often include hearing one spouse constantly finishing sentences for the other. Always hearing the answers to questions from the same person is another indicator. As is having the spouse constantly reminding their significant other of names, dates and other such information.
When seniors are trying to cover up their own forgetfulness, many make a lot of excuses. Blaming memory lapses on “senior moments” or saying they are having trouble sleeping or “coming down with something” are common excuses families hear. Again, hearing these things from time to time is normal. When the senior is consistent in using these types of excuses and even develops patterns, it is time to consider the underlying concern.
Cutting Social Ties
Maintaining social ties is important for individuals of all ages. When seniors start to do things that reduce those social ties significantly, it is sometimes a sign of trouble. Skipping out on favorite activities, forgoing opportunities to participate in long-loved hobbies or making excuses to not see family and friends are examples. All of us enjoy times of solitude sometimes. However, if these habits are more constant and different than the senior’s normal habits, a fear of dementia is sometimes to blame.
Other Indicators to Look For
Other indicators include finding out that the senior is having difficulty driving to places they are familiar with. The senior might also forget to turn off the stove, have trouble with maintaining hygiene and grooming habits or appear as if they have lost a significant amount of weight.
Having Conversations and Getting Help
If you notice any of these signs and especially if you notice more than one, it is time to have a talk with your loved one. Show empathy during the conversation. Express genuine concern for how the senior feels, what they are thinking and what their concerns are. Come armed with a plan. Offer to provide more help yourself or provide information on in home care services if your loved one desires to remain at home. Even if services are not immediately necessary, having this information helps your loved one to prepare and know they have options that do not have to involve leaving their home.
Seek Medical Support
Finally, encourage your loved one to see a medical professional for evaluation and diagnosis. Sometimes, memory lapses are not due to dementia. If this is the case, finding out can help them to resolve the problem. Even when dementia is the cause, diagnosing it early opens up options for treatment that can help slow decline. No matter what, let your loved one know you are there to support them. They are not alone.
If you have questions about discussing dementia with your loved one, Salus Homecare San Gabriel Valley is always here to help. Call us anytime to discuss memory care services at home or request a complimentary, no obligation consultation.
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