It does not happen overnight. No, dementia and Alheimer's creep into your loved one's behavior and take residence gradually. Being smart, adaptable and self-reliant folk, your loved one is able to cope before you are. In fact, they may cope so well that it becomes a "cover-up" for an uninvited, insidious degenerative process, changing their life (and yours) from that point forward. Here’s what’s important: it doesn’t matter whether you have a diagnosis for your aging parent. It matters how your loved one functions. It matters how you deal with what you see.
Dementia and Alzheimer's are increasingly common, but even if we as we become more and more aware of how to spot the symptoms, it doesn't necessarily make it any easier. Many a reader will be familiar with the terrible uncertainty and concern over their aging loved one's thinking. Fortunately, Carolyn Rosenblatt of Forbes provides more advice in her recent article.
Among the many dangers to keep in mind when an elderly loved one starts "slipping" is that they may begin "hiding" it. For one thing, it is not something any senior looks forward to acknowledging, even if they are aware of some telltale symptoms. It is human nature.
We all compensate or distract when there is something to hide, both from ourselves and from others. But when something like dementia or Alzheimer's is at stake, it can be all the more difficult to get past and even more harmful to hide. Indeed, since there is no actual test for dementia or Alzheimer's, it is possible that even a doctor will be unable to diagnose those conditions.
It is important, therefore, to observe how your loved one functions. Keep a keen eye on them and know what you are seeing, for their own sake. The original article has more advice and anecdotes to offer, but Ms. Rosenblatt sums up the steps in four points.
First, as soon as you begin to worry, you must persuade your loved one to visit a doctor, and a specialist if possible, to detect it early. Second, you must secure their estate planning documents while they have legal capacity to know and understand what they are doing. Third, you must secure proper care for them. Fourth and last, you must discuss the circumstances openly with all family members, so all may be aware of the circumstances and can work together to protect your loved one.
Reference: Forbes (August 11, 2011) "The Danger of Your Aging Parent Covering Up Dementia"