As people live longer, we’re seeing an increase in how many deal with cognitive problems such as dementia. It can be an embarrassing problem, when your mind starts to fail you, and you’re aware it’s beginning to happen. For this reason, many patients in the earliest stages of dementia will often hide their symptoms of memory problems or difficulty in solving mental challenges. Especially when the problems manifest in basic or routine matters, like knowledge of loved ones or handling even normal everyday tasks.
This is referred to by cognitive researchers as Saving Appearance Responses, or SAR. Researchers are finding it’s far more frequent to engage in SAR than was initially suspected.
When people don’t want to admit they are having a memory problem, they don’t seek treatment quickly. Getting treatment early is beneficial to everyone, the patient, their family and the doctors. Early treatment can often delay symptoms and slow progression.
Using SARs or explanations to deflect from admitting cognitive impairment does not solve anything. If we see this behavior in a loved one, getting them to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis may be the best thing we can do.
Doctors should remember to be respectful to patients in all instances, but especially when SAR behavior is suspected. The reason for the behavior isn’t that patients don’t want to get well, it’s that they fear humiliation, and often don’t know their cognitive problems could actually be a medical problem rather than a personal failing.
Cognitive decline affects everything in the patient’s life, even basic communication. #HealthStatus