How to Cope When Your Loved One Denies Their Dementia Diagnosis

A dementia diagnosis can be very difficult to accept. It’s normal for the person who’s been diagnosed to feel sad and frustrated to the point of outright denial. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, denial is a coping mechanism deeply rooted in the human psyche. There’s something about accepting the disease that makes it seem more real.

Sufferers might do almost anything just to hide their symptoms. For example, they might downplay their forgetfulness to simple “silly me’s”.

In 2019, an estimated 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s dementia. If left untreated, it may cause a decline in the sufferer’s mental functions and physical movements. Later on, it might cause a possible death from infections.

What should you do when your loved one refuses to accept care for their diagnosis?

Help them accept by education

The Alzheimer Society of Canada said early interventions can be effective in improving the patient’s cognitive functions. On the other hand, undetected dementia can place the patient at risk of delirium and motor vehicle accidents.

Likewise, Queen’s University Belfast’s Gary Mitchell laid down several logistical decisions that are better made during the early stages of dementia:

  • Choosing the right medical and caregiver provider
  • Managing coexisting illnesses
  • Reviewing legal documents
  • Recording the patient’s future wishes for long-term care
  • Preventing risky activities like wandering

Once your loved one has accepted the diagnosis, they might become more open to the help and support they need.

Don’t argue

It’s not uncommon for dementia patients to exhibit aggressive behaviors. It’s highly likely that your loved one is not treating you this way on purpose. Aggression can be caused by physical discomfort and other environmental factors.

Determine the cause of this aggression. Is your loved one in pain because of their medications? Are they hungry or thirsty? Are they finding it difficult to use the bathroom?

Don’t try to engage in an argument because that may only increase the stress they’re experiencing. Focus on feelings, not the facts.


Educate yourself about dementia

If you have a loved one who suffers from dementia, it pays to learn a lot about the illness.

Be informed about Alzheimer’s statistics, the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, available dementia care in your area, the cost of treatment, and so on.

If you need professional help in caring for your ill parent, there are many options. There are nursing homes, assisted living services and home care services like Serenity Home Health.

Conduct a family meeting

This will give you time to explain the situation to the rest of your family.

Family meetings give everybody a chance to weigh in on future decisions and plans. While it’s always better to involve your ill parent in the decision-making, there might come a time they will lose their capacity to decide.

Don’t hold the meeting in secret. Your parent may not want to be present during the meeting, but it’s good to encourage them to join. If you hold a meeting behind their back, it may cause conflict and more stress.

Dementia can be hard to talk about especially if the sufferers are in denail. Be patient when your parent refuses to accept dementia diagnosis. With your understanding and patience, they will eventually accept that a problem exists and seeking care is the best way to face it.

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