August 5, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille


Shame. Fear. Embarrassment. The thoughts and feelings surrounding a potential dementia diagnosis can cause older adults to keep their suspicions to themselves. A recently available AARP survey peeled away a few of the layers of emotion to get to the root cause – namely, worry over losing independence and becoming a problem to others.

While there is some truth to these worries, there are also some misconceptions fueling them. For example, almost 50% of the participants, who were adults age 40 and over, believe they are likely to get dementia as they grow older. The truth is that just over 10% of older adults over age 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

For this reason, it’s crucial for seniors to speak with their doctors for the realistic, straightforward information they need – particularly if any warning signs of dementia are being noticed, for example:

  • Memory decline which is disruptive to daily life
  • Planning and/or problem-solving issues
  • Problems with accomplishing once-familiar activities
  • Confusion and disorientation to time and place
  • Vision issues and difficulty determining color/contrast and judging distance
  • Writing/speaking changes
  • Losing items and leaving them in unusual spots
  • A decrease in judgment
  • Social withdrawal
  • Personality/mood differences

The following are some suggestions to overcome any reluctance in talking to the physician about Alzheimer’s, and how to help make the conversation as productive as you can.

  • Don’t wait. The natural impulse may be to procrastinate bringing up something that may potentially be so life-changing. However, time is of the essence in receiving a correct diagnosis as well as the most effective treatment.
  • Bring a companion. It is comforting to have the support of a trusted family member, friend or caregiver during the appointment. Ideally, this person can offer more information to the doctor in addition to any concerns being noticed from their perspective.
  • Make comparisons to then and now. Share with the doctor the particular changes that are causing concern. For example, an older adult may be a retired math teacher who, up until last month, didn’t need to think twice about balancing the checkbook, but lately is experiencing some mental confusion with the task.

The physician can review prescription drugs to see if adverse reactions are leading to a problem, and schedule assessments and test to ascertain the best course of action.

At Home Independent Living, the leading Syracuse in-home care company, provides kind and friendly dementia care companions who are always on hand to accompany older adults to medical appointments and procedures, and also to aid in making life easier and more manageable in a number of other ways as well. Reach out to us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for more details on our dependable home care services in Syracuse and the surrounding areas.