If they still have their partner, the partner will try to help and cover for them. When they are tag-teaming it is more difficult to figure out what is going on. It isn’t always intentional, but it can be intentional. To be fair, it may have happened slowly and they are taking care of each other the best way they know how to help. Observe to see if the spouse is finishing tasks for them, finishing sentences for them, or making excuses for some type of behavior.
November 9, 2022
No one likes to admit that they may need help. We are all very independent and quite stubborn. Most of us fear losing our mental faculties more than we fear losing physical capabilities. I understand that. Too often, people feel that they are “getting dementia” or “Alzheimer’s disease,” but that may not be the issue at all. Which is why it is important to go through a diagnostic workup. It could be fixable, such as better nutrition and hydration. It may even be a type of depression.
- Financial difficulties
- Short on money
- Buying a lot of “stuff”
- Drinking more alcohol
- Prescription drug misuse or abuse
- Illegal medication misuse or abuse
- Binging on sweets
- Financial abuse – from a family member, a friend, or a caregiver
- Elder abuse or Neglect – from family, friends, neighbors, or caregivers
- Automobile accidents
- Driving Infractions or Getting a Ticket for something
- Hiding bruises – either from falls or abuse
- Eating a lot of take-out
- Changes in the way they dress
- Closing the doors to rooms – to keep junk hidden, the messiness, or the dirtiness
- Limiting driving to short trips and not far from home
- Poor personal hygiene – from not changing clothes to not bathing nor brushing teeth
- Unopened mail
A few behaviors that may mean they are trying to hide information:
- They discourage visitors. It may get to the point of them not letting anyone inside their home. It starts as, “We will meet you at the restaurant.” “The house is such a mess, let’s do it another time.” They may even say that they know “you are busy with your job.”
- Hiding mistakes – driving, spending, buying,
- They make a lot of excuses for their forgetfulness or their behaviors
- Changes in activity – you are looking for changes in their normal routines
- Speaking for their spouse
Why might they do some of these things? “Denial (De Nile) isn’t just a river in Egypt.
- Denial – If you don’t acknowledge it or talk about it, then it doesn’t exist and nothing is wrong.
- Pride – They can’t admit that they can’t do a lot of things necessary to live on their own. We all are an independent and prideful bunch.
- Embarrassment – maybe they become self-conscious or ashamed of what they can no longer do. Especially if it has to do with personal hygiene. Embarrassment rears its ugly head when they have some financial difficulties. They cannot afford food, medication, and getting repairs done to the house. It may or may not be any fault of their own.
- Fear – of losing their independence
- Depression – chronic health conditions seem to cause a rise in depression. Depression is not always the ‘woe is me” stuff.
Depression is not a normal part of aging. It may mimic dementia.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression in folks 65 years and older:
- Memory impairment
- Trouble retrieving some words
- Takes longer to process information and deliver an answer
- Depressed mood
- They no longer have pleasure or want to do the things they used to enjoy
- Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Feeling fatigued
- They experience feelings of worthlessness
- Having excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Feel confused
- Struggle to pay attention
- Be grumpy or irritable
- More aches and pains
- Move more slowly
- Crying spells
- Apathy – lack of interest or concern
We always want to rule out the things that can be ruled out. What if it is a lack of nutrition, dehydration, loneliness, or isolation? Those are fixable and doable. If it is depression some medications can help. Shoot, even running has been shown to help mild to moderate depression. Once we know what it is, it really is much easier to handle.