As our parents or someone we care for age, we may start to notice some changes in their behavior. There are times when they just don’t seem like their old selves. In the midst of conversation we sometimes have to fill in a word or name for them. No problem…..after all, your memory fails as you get older. Maybe we notice a stack of unopened mail or unpaid bills. Once again, you can chalk it up to an aging memory. And then there was the time Mom sent that telemarketer a ridiculous amount of money and got nothing for it. In her defense, she is a very trusting person and he was a really smooth talker….how could you not help someone in need? When you look at these incidents one at a time you can easily rationalize that they occur occasionally and at irregular intervals. As these symptoms of dementia (we hate to admit that’s what they are) continue we will eventually have to stop ignoring them and take action. At that point, lots of the past behaviors take on a different meaning. Getting lost on the way to a grocery store our aging loved one has frequented for the last 20 years is not a part of getting older. Neither is the seemingly gradual decline in personal hygiene or grooming. We excused the extra bolts on doors and locks on garden gates we were asked to install as simple precautionary measures taken by a senior citizen living alone when in fact it may have been a sign of paranoia that often accompanies dementia. Perhaps all those times Mom or Dad didn’t want to go to a family gathering or return a call from an old friend weren’t the result of just being tired.
The problem is that as all these events go on around us, we go on living our busy lives going to work and raising our families. These behaviors start slowly and it’s so easy to excuse them and deny that maybe something is wrong. After all, no one wants to think their loved one has Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. We want to believe it’s all just a part of getting old. As caregivers, we have to let that mindset go. We are doing our loved ones a disservice if we minimize their symptoms. We end up robbing them of an early diagnosis and the opportunity to actively participate in any decision making about their future lives. In addition, an early diagnosis translates into early treatment that can slow the progression of this disease and keep your loved one at home longer. It’s important not to miss the clues. Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com