Barbara's Blog

How parents hide dementia

Is your mom doing more things for your dad than she used to? She may be covering for his dementia.

But isn’t it normal to become more forgetful as we age? Not according to Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney, and Mediator for aging related conflicts. Rosenblatt stresses that problems with memory are signs of underlying medical issues.

So what do you do? You talk to your parents’ doctor and you request a neurological exam when you see signs that there may be a problem. A neurological exam can rule out extraneous factors that can lead to memory loss. These include medications, infections, stroke, dehydration, sleeplessness, depression, etc. Many of these causes of memory loss can be treated.

There is no one test to determine if your parent has Alzheimer’s Disease. Doctors draw conclusions from symptoms, but the process is not precise. For this reason, it is so important to act as soon as you note changes. Rosenblatt offers four proactive steps:

  1. Get a thorough check-up from a reliable MD, preferably a neurologist who specializes in aging patients.
  2. Locate and update all estate planning documents. (Use my list of essential documents to make sure you don’t miss anything.)
  3. Plan ahead for your parents’ possible care needs.
  4. Call a family meeting. Begin early to discuss needs and care plans with your parents and siblings.

Finally Rosenblatt reminds us to trust our gut when it comes to identifying health problems in our parents. We must not develop a false sense of security simply because our parent has not received an official diagnosis. Be assertive in advocating for solid information and be proactive in anticipating your parents’ needs.

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