Many adult children start their aging parent on an elderly care journey because of their concerns regarding Alzheimer’s disease. Their aging loved one might have started showing challenges with memory or difficulty completing regular tasks. They might have noticed changes in communication or that their parent is having more difficulty with judgement. Many seniors are not as aware of these changes as their adult children are, but are willing to go along with the need for care when their child suggests it, or are aware and know that they will benefit from having an elderly care provider with them.
What happens, however, if your parent is not only aware of the symptoms that they are facing, but do not want you to know about them? While there is a common misconception that seniors with Alzheimer’s disease do not know that they have the symptoms or are not aware of how those symptoms are impacting them, this is not always the case. Often the senior is not only very aware that their memory skills, cognitive processing, or critical thinking skills are declining, but are embarrassed by the decline and eager to not let others know about it. When this happens, seniors may go to great measures to hide those symptoms. This can make it difficult for you to detect the changes successfully and may even prevent you from being able to get them the care and treatment that they need.
Some ways that your parent might hide symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease from you include:
• Not participating in activities. A common symptom of depression is not participating in activities that the person once loved. This, however, may also be an indication of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms that the senior is trying to hide. Your parent might know that they are dealing with changes in their abilities and that those changes would impact their ability to participate in their activity. Whether it is because they no longer remember how to handle the activity or that they think that they are not going to do it properly, they think that if they simply refuse to do it, it will not be obvious.
• Refusing to try new things. Refusing to do activities that they once loved or that are very familiar to them is concerning, but so is the refusal to try new things. Your parent may worry that they will not be able to understand the new task or that they will do it wrong. They may worry that they will be embarrassed by being confused and that everyone will figure out that they are experiencing cognitive decline.
• Compensation. A senior who is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and does not want others to know may avoid doing tasks that they feel will reveal their challenges. This can mean that they start compensating for their challenges by asking for help in casual ways. They may start telling a story and then suddenly say something like “well, you know how that goes” or “you know what I mean”, or ask that their grandchild does more tasks around the house for them. It might seem counterintuitive that a senior who does not want care will ask for help, but the thought is that if they get help for minor things they will not reveal their need for more extensive care.