How Seniors Hide Their Dementia Symptoms

How Seniors Hide Their Dementia Symptoms

A family enjoying quality time together while visiting in Heather Glen Senior Living.

October 23, 2023

Dementia is a complex and often challenging condition, affecting millions of seniors worldwide, and as it progresses, individuals may attempt to conceal their symptoms for various reasons, such as fear, stigma or a desire to maintain their independence. At Heather Glen Senior Living, we understand the importance of recognizing and addressing these hidden symptoms, so read on to explore some common ways that your elderly loved ones may be hiding their dementia symptoms and discover insights on how to support them effectively. 

Covering forgetfulness

Memory loss is a hallmark symptom of dementia, and seniors with dementia may frequently forget names, appointments or even recent conversations. To cover their forgetfulness, they might resort to writing notes, setting reminders or downplaying the significance of their lapses. Family members and caregivers should pay attention to these subtle hints and gently encourage them to seek medical evaluation.

Social withdrawal

Seniors with dementia might begin to withdraw from social interactions, and they could begin avoiding gatherings, activities, or conversations that they once enjoyed. Isolating themselves can be a way of concealing their cognitive decline from loved ones, so it’s essential to encourage social engagement and provide a supportive environment to help your elderly loved ones maintain their social connections.

Repeating stories or questions

Repetition is another common symptom of dementia, and you may see your elderly loved ones repeatedly telling the same stories or asking the same questions. They might do this to avoid drawing attention to their memory difficulties, and instead of becoming frustrated, it’s important for you to listen patiently and respond with kindness. Reassure them without making them feel embarrassed or self-conscious.

Concealing emotional struggles

Dementia can bring about mood swings, anxiety and depression, and some seniors may hide their emotional struggles—putting on a brave face when, in reality, they are dealing with confusion and distress. Creating a safe and open space for them to express their emotions is essential, and encouraging discussions about their feelings can provide valuable insights into their state of mind.

Camouflaging disorientation

Dementia can cause disorientation, making seniors feel lost in familiar surroundings, and to hide this confusion, they may use strategies like retracing their steps or pretending to know where they are. It’s important for caregivers and family members to ensure that seniors have access to clear, familiar cues and provide support without judgment when they do become disoriented.

Relying on coping mechanisms

Seniors with dementia often develop coping mechanisms to mask their cognitive deficits, so you might notice them using humor, deflection or avoidance tactics in response to any challenging situations that arise. While these mechanisms can be effective in the short term, it is crucial to support them with patience and understanding while helping them access professional care.

Defensive behaviors 

Some seniors may become defensive or irritable when confronted about their symptoms, and they might deny any issues, claim forgetfulness is normal or blame others for misunderstandings. Understanding that these behaviors are often a protective response can help caregivers approach the situation with empathy and patience.

Heather Glen Senior Living is here to help

Dementia is a complex condition that can be incredibly challenging for seniors and their loved ones. Recognizing the various ways seniors hide their symptoms is the first step toward providing the support they need. At Heather Glen Senior Living, we emphasize the importance of creating a nurturing and inclusive environment for seniors with dementia. By fostering open communication, offering unconditional support and professional guidance, we ensure that our residents maintain their dignity, independence and quality of life throughout their journey with dementia. If you’d like to know more about our Memory Care department or want to see our community for yourself, give us a call at (610) 841-4478 or fill out our online form today.

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