Moving Through Denial When a Loved One Has Dementia

Education can help ease the way forward for family members.


- Posted on Sep 26, 2019

A woman in her golden years.

This article is based on information provided by Home Instead Senior Care.

It can be a difficult process to accept that your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If the disease has not yet been diagnosed, it is important to get a thorough evaluation from a qualified physician. Once you know the situation, you can share the information with your family members. It is often better to get the straight facts from a doctor. Bringing everyone together at the same time can be a good way to impart the information. It’s not necessary for everyone to be in the same room. You may consider holding a conference call with your family and the doctor. 

Many people will experience difficult or conflicting emotions when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, and denial is common after learning about the diagnosis. Even within the same family, different people may experience different emotions as they come to terms with the diagnosis. When family members have differing viewpoints, one possible way to get everyone on the same page is to take your loved one to a neuropsychologist for an evaluation. If you learn, for example, she thinks she is still in high school and that final exams are coming up, it can be hard to deny the reality any longer.

Once your family understands what is happening, you can start to take steps to get your loved one the help he or she needs. With education comes power. You might suggest to family members that they attend workshops and conferences on the subject, or explore online resources or materials from medical professionals who specialize in treating dementia. It becomes more difficult to reject the diagnosis as the disease progress. Continue to allow yourself and others time to process the situation. You may find it tough to navigate information and emotions all at once. 

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