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Dementia & Seniors: Is Your Aging Parent in Denial?

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

Even when a dementia diagnosis confirms nagging suspicions of family caregivers, seniors may deny they have a problem by brushing off offered assistance with a simple, “I’m fine,” or even refusing to go to scheduled doctors’ appointments. Recognizing signs of dementia denial can help in-home caregivers in Milwaukee start a productive conversation and encourage treatment.

Attributing Forgetfulness to Aging

Increasing instances of forgetting names or not remembering that something is on the stove can be a sign that something is wrong. Out of embarrassment or pride, some seniors either don’t say anything about such instances to loved ones or brush it off as a “senior moment” when someone brings it up.

Becoming Increasingly Defensive

Seniors may become understandably defensive about the possibility of losing some of their independence. Dementia caregivers often notice increasing defensiveness or outright anger when they bring up the possibility of having a memory problem to their loved one.

A Noticeable Lack of Awareness

Some instances of dementia denial may be related to a condition known as anosognosia, a lack of awareness of impairment. Anosognosia, which is thought to be caused by chemical changes in the brain, is experienced by approximately 80 percent of seniors with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

Questioning the Diagnosis

When your loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, there’s usually been testing and a process of elimination to rule out other conditions. Despite this, seniors may question the diagnosis or even the doctor who made the diagnosis. This form dementia denial can sometimes be countered with second and third opinions confirming the diagnosis.

Deflecting and Changing the Subject

A more subtle form of dementia denial is changing the subject when a friend of loved one expresses concern or suggests scheduling a doctor’s appointment. One way to counter deflection is to bring up the subject in a way that’s as non-confrontational as possible while emphasizing sincere concern.

Although your loved one may be resistant to help after accepting a dementia diagnosis, a time will come when he or she needs additional support to maintain safety and comfort at home. Instead of waiting until that day comes, reach out to Home Care Assistance at (262) 782-3383 today and learn more about our Alzheimer’s home care in Milwaukee. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Signs of Dementia Denial in Seniors