The onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms can be an intensely frightening experience. Imagine being unable to remember your closest family and friends, or being unable to complete simple tasks, or forgetting where and when you are. Simple things like loved one’s names, the route to the grocery store, and even writing out a check can all feel like insurmountable tasks to complete. Imagine slowly acknowledging that something is wrong and having no option but to endure it. If you’re reading this, chances you are you either in the midst of witnessing someone close to you experience this. They may even be your spouse of upwards of 30 - 40 years. It can be difficult to understand the shame and fear of Alzheimer’s. It can cause some people to become withdrawn and to hide their symptoms from loved ones. If you believe that something is wrong with a loved one’s mental and physical well being, they may be attempting to hide symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Your loved one may be ashamed of the way they cannot remember certain things. The moments of memory loss could be embarrassing and so they attempt to disguise, brush off, or distract from these experiences. They may throw their hands up in frustration during a discussion and talk over you in order to distract from their memory loss. They could also pretend as though they did not hear you. An elderly person may wish to hide their memory loss by becoming more withdrawn, trying not to get caught forgetting something.
By becoming more withdrawn from social groups, friends, family, and even religious organization, a senior may be attempting to isolate themselves. By avoiding others, they can keep people from discovering that there is a problem. However, as they become more socially isolated, their symptoms could gradually worsen. Seniors who do not get adequate socialization
A senior may also attempt to cover up their memory loss by making excuses. For example, an instance of memory loss or confusion might be explained by something like insomnia, or a headache. They could say that they mixed up certain dates or names and laugh it off like it was no big deal. They may able to fool you for a little while, but repeated instances clearly mean that something is not right. Most of us can get forgetful from time to time, but this kind of diversion should easily be seen through for what it is.
Not Driving Anymore
An adult who has the early stages of Alzheimer’s may not be comfortable getting behind the wheel, and for good reason. For one, they may have trouble remembering the route to familiar destinations. They may forget how to operate their vehicle or forget where they parked. These are all frightening situations they can find themselves in. Once behind the wheel, they may forget where they were going and wind up lost. To avoid these and other risks of “dementia driving”, they may avoid driving altogether. However, instead of owning up to the dementia they may say that they prefer not having to drive anymore because it’s easier. They may say that other drivers on the road are too aggressive or that their car insurance is too expensive.
Denying With Anger
Your senior may be in complete denial about there being an issue, or they may dismiss it as minor age-related changes. If your senior grows angry or defensive when you try to approach the subject, this could be a sign that they feel insecure because of it. They may also want the family member who brought up the situation to feel bad about it so that they will refrain from doing it in the future. Your senior’s anger about the subject indicates that they too are worried about the symptoms and do not know what to do about them.
Having Someone Cover For Them
If you are the adult child of a senior struggling with the early onset of dementia symptoms, you may have noticed that someone close, usually a spouse, is covering up for your loved one’s lapses in memory. When one spouse is trying to cover for the other’s mental health changes, they may help finish their loved one’s sentences or make excuses for their behavior. While this behavior is well intended, it is ultimately going to be counter productive. The sooner you can diagnose Alzheimer’s, the quicker you can begin to make lifestyle changes and accommodations to make the progression of the disease easier to handle.
Refusing to Partake in Their Favorite Hobby
While not as common, this may occur in individuals who require a degree of mental effort in completing their favorite hobby or activity. For example, if they are an avid chess or Sudoku player and they suddenly are unable to play as well, they could become embarrassed and not want to partake anymore. Your loved one may have trouble doing things that once felt like second-nature, a terrifying prospect that is hard to fathom. Imagine forgetting how to drive and it being like the first time you got in a car every time you drove somewhere.
It’s important to identify the early onset of these symptoms before the disease can progress to the stage where it’s advanced enough to significantly impact your loved one’s life. With the worsening of symptoms, the likelihood of an emergency room visit increases. Your senior may wind up wandering from home, getting in an accident, or getting hospitalized from a stress-related condition. If this happens, you will wind up needing to find a senior care solution amidst a crisis.
If you have an older adult in your life living with Alzheimer’s, Landmark Senior Living is here to help you. Our assisted living facilities and medically certified staff are able to accommodate your senior’s physical needs while keeping them entertained, occupied, and happy. At Landmark Senior Living, our goal is to create the utmost in independent living for every one of our senior housing residents. Our independent living program is tailored to each individual’s needs and includes robust daily exercise, yoga, & strength training classes available for seniors. Our broad range of activities and events will help you to take care of your mental and physical health.