Signs your loved one may be hiding memory loss
To some degree, memory loss, dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s are similar disorders that each share overlapping symptoms. Each disorder, however, is known for being difficult to diagnose. In fact, only an autopsy can truly confirm the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Perhaps you're unsure whether you or a loved one may be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Though not a definitive list, experiencing any number of the following set of symptoms may be a sign you or a loved one could be suffering:
- Disinterest or refusal to partake in usual hobbies or activities
- Failure to complete basic housekeeping, hygiene or financial tasks
- Difficulty completing sentences or remembering specific words
- Easily gets lost when driving and often arrives late to events or appointments
- Very generalized answers to questions about their quality of life
- Constant shifting of conversation from them to others so all they have to do is listen
- Frequent statements such as "this is normal for my age" or "I'm just tired"
- Refusal to allow guests or host events at their home (where there may be telltale signs of forgetfulness)
- Quick temper over repeated or very specific questions they are unable to answer right away
Again, these signs are not definitive guarantees you or your loved one may have Alzheimer's Disease; however, they are signs which should absolutely not be ignored. Seniors who deny losing their memory may not even know something has happened. Anosognosia, or a lack of awareness of impairment, is common in seniors experiencing serious memory loss, and it affects up to 81% of those with Alzheimer's.
Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis
There are a few ways to make sure a diagnosis is accurate. Remember to remain patient and calm as you gather information, as this is likely to be a tense time for you and for a senior who may feel burdensome. Most seniors are aware you just want to help, but it is not easy on a senior when they are asked to go looking for medical proof that their memory is fading.
- Schedule an appointment with a neurologist, and do not be afraid to seek a second opinion
- Depression can cause symptoms similar to those of memory loss; ask for a consultation with a senior psychiatric care professional
- If medication is prescribed, make sure to monitor your loved one's use; excessive medication is common in modern medicine, and some senior patients end up taking so many different prescriptions that more problems are created than solved
- Remember that early detection and treatment of several diagnoses can lead to a quick recovery, followed by several years with a high quality of life
What to do next
If treatment early in the progression of memory loss does not help, the most responsible choice you can make is to create a specific plan for care. Even more hardship awaits those families who avoid confronting the topic or who choose to stay silent in order to avoid conflict.
Start by making certain that power of attorney, a last will and testament, and other end-of-life documents are all in order. It can be difficult asking a senior to sign away their legal and financial independence. However, it is even harder to secure legally binding agreements if they are deep in the throes of severe memory loss.
Some families with their own house feel they must "do the right thing" and move their beloved senior into their home. However, memory care patients often need 24/7 protection as their memory deteriorates, so doing so requires a lot of time and patience. And unfortunately, without careful planning ahead of time, caregiver burnout is an all too common occurrence.
This is why memory care senior communities are often the right decision to make after all. Their staff and experts know how to help seniors get through the rough patches of memory loss, and can even help regain some memory function with daily therapy. They are professionals, whose sole focus is to help your loved one get the care they need during what is likely one of the most challenging periods in their life.
Is there a senior loved one you thought of while reading this, or who would benefit from such advice? Call 800-322-0999 to speak with somebody that can help answer any questions you may have, or find the Holiday Retirement community near you!