Memory disorders can be deeply embarrassing for those living with them.
No one likes to feel a step behind – especially not when it comes to memory
and mental alertness.
Because of this, many seniors hide signs of dementia from their loved ones
and even their caregivers. This makes it tough for family members and
caregivers to detect dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders.
It can also make it difficult to start a conversation about care without
angering or hurting your loved one’s feelings.
“When it comes to dementia, a person’s pride can feel threatened,” says
Larry Meigs, CEO and President of Visiting Angels. “Many times, it’s only
when a kind and compassionate family member spots the signs of dementia
that a dementia-sufferer starts receiving the support and care they need.”
If you suspect your loved one may be starting to suffer from dementia, but
fear he or she is trying to hide their condition, you can keep an eye out
for these signs of dementia:
1. Struggling to Communicate
As your loved one ages, he or she may occasionally have difficulty finding
a word or remembering the details of an event from a year ago. Frequent
pauses, forgetting the names of family members or substituting the wrong
words may be signs of dementia.
2. Short-Term Memory Loss
Occasionally forgetting the details of a conversation from a year ago or
forgetting where an item is placed are normal behaviors; however, it’s not
normal struggling to recall details of very recent conversations or to not
recognize family members.
3. Excuses, Explanations and Denial
When your loved one struggles to remember something, loses track of thought
or struggles to follow a conversation, they may come up with an involved
reason or excuse. If this becomes a pattern of behavior, it may be a sign
that he or she is covering up a bigger problem.
4. Over-Reliance on a Spouse or Caregiver
At the onset of dementia, small tasks may become difficult, leading
sufferers to rely on a spouse or caregiver's support. Spouses, in
particular, may lie or cover-up for the sufferer.
5. Refusal to Try New Things
Dementia can make learning new things difficult. That means people with
dementia often avoid new activities or information to avoid embarrassment.
6. Bouts of Silence and Irritability
While a change in mood can be a sign of other issues such as depression,
people with dementia often go through stretches where they become quieter
and withdrawn. They may also lash out and become temperamental.
If your loved one is presenting some of these signs of dementia, it may be
wise to have a talk with them about your concerns. This is an extremely
sensitive subject; there’s a reason so many seniors hide their initial
So when approaching your loved one, do so in a compassionate, gentle,
non-judgmental way. Remember that it may take several attempts to have the
It’s not easy, but there are effective ways to have this conversation.
Click here for advice on how to talk to your elderly loved one about needing help.