Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that affects almost 6 million people
in the United States. People with the disease experience mental decline, and symptoms include memory loss — but that's not the only forfeiture.
is the most common type of dementia. However, despite its prevalence, some families treat the disease as a secret; they evade the topic, even as symptoms begin to appear.
The great cover-up
Many people treat cognitive disorders as if they are something of which they should be ashamed. Some people with dementia and their family members keep their disease a secret even after diagnosis. Playing it close to the vest, they devise ways to avoid letting on that Mom or Dad has Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping it hidden from friends and extended family, making excuses for an occasional faux pas, they throw off would-be inquisitors.
What if other diseases had the same degree of stigma attached to them as Alzheimer’s disease does? Imagine if heart disease patients were fearful of revealing their illness.
Family members aren’t ashamed of loved ones who have cognitive disorders. They merely want to protect them from the stigma attached to their condition. Their fear is understandable. They worry about the shift that will eventually take place. They're concerned that people will treat their loved one differently; that a small mistake or a slip of the tongue will be analyzed and attributed to the loss that will inevitably become part of their life.
A caregiver’s reluctance to reveal a diagnosis won’t keep the disease at