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Talking to a Senior Who Is Denying a Dementia Diagnosis

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

Talking to a loved one about his or her dementia diagnosis can be one of the most challenging conversations to have when he or she is in denial. Often, it can be hard to tell if denial is a symptom of the disease or if he or she is responding with indifference for fear of losing independence. While helping someone come to terms with dementia can take multiple conversations, there are some simple ways to make the process easier for everyone.

Practice Empathy

Discussions about dementia can often get heated, and many families wind up in a back-and-forth battle filled with accusations. Although it is normal to get upset when your loved one repeatedly denies there is a problem, responding with empathy can diffuse the situation. One of the best things you can do, according to Lehigh Valley elder care providers, is let your loved one know you understand that the diagnosis can be scary, and be ready to drop the conversation temporarily until he or she is more relaxed.

Recruit an Outside Opinion

Family dynamics can often affect a person’s willingness to accept a dementia diagnosis. If you find that your parent seems less likely to hear you out because you are his or her child, then having an outsider talk to him or her can be beneficial. Choose another trusted caregiver or physician and ask that person to help initiate a conversation regarding the best types of care and treatment available.

Make the Issue About You

Sometimes, expressing your personal fears can elicit sympathy from a loved one in denial. Although he or she may still refuse to admit that they have dementia, your loved one may accept help under the pretense that it will make you feel more comfortable. Letting your loved one know that you are worried about his or her safety may be all it takes to get them to comply with their treatment and care plan.

Present Solutions in a Positive Light

When a senior continues to deny his or her dementia, safety issues still must be addressed. Find ways to introduce new care strategies that won’t appear connected to dementia. For example, explain to your loved one that a new part-time in-home caregiver is visiting to provide him or her with an opportunity to socialize. Alternatively, you could present transportation services as a great way to eliminate the burden of vehicle maintenance. With a little creativity and tact, you can address your loved one’s needs while giving him or her time to cope with a new health diagnosis.

If your senior loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia and you’re unsure how to move forward, let Home Care Assistance help. Families trust our Lehigh Valley dementia care and turn to us to provide their loved ones high-quality care in the comfort of home. Call a dedicated Care Manager at 484-350-3874 to learn more.