When you notice your parent is becoming more confused or getting lost in familiar areas, what should you do? The first signs of dementia are apparent to you, but when you mention it to your loved one, they deny it. Part of the problem is that anosognosia may have occurred.
Anosognosia is a word which means you parent has a lack of awareness that there is a problem. When the brain changes with dementia, the part of the brain which understands there's a problem are damaged. This means your parent can't understand they have dementia and you won't convince them otherwise.
Dangers of denial
There are dangers to your loved one denying that there’s an issue. Your parent could overdose on medication by not realizing they need a daily dose and take all of it at once. Or, your loved one could have an accident and fall because they can't accept they need a walker. They could burn their selves in the kitchen, overeat foods which aren't good for them if diabetic or leave the stove on.
Your parent could be financially exploited by scammers who could clean out their savings account. Too, if denial takes place, essential papers which need to be signed such as medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney or even something as simple as seeing their medical records will be not permitted. You would have to go to court and prove your loved one is incompetent and gain guardianship.
Denial may not be just with your parent, but your siblings and other family members may not accept it either. Siblings who are in denial won’t help because they believe there isn’t an issue and don’t think the loved one needs help. They figure that their parent is just being difficult and want attention or can be retrained to take care of their selves like they used to before.
What to do
Your parent doesn’t have to accept they have dementia for
you to obtain help for them. With an early diagnosis, it will the time to
engage in therapies that could slow the progression of the disease and enhance
their quality of life. It will also give you and your parent time to figure out
about legal and financial issues. Plus, it will prepare you for the changes
which come with the disease.
See if you can go with your parent to their doctor’s appointment. Explain to your parent that there are other causes for memory loss and the doctor can rule those out. If it is dementia, even after the doctor confirms it, your parent may still deny it. You can’t convince your parent otherwise, but you can take measures to keep them healthy and safe. Part of the dementia is not being able to recognize the issue, if you realize this, you will be less frustrated with your parent.
Educate yourself on the signs of dementia, then take your parent to the doctor to see if your loved one has it. If so, then make plans on how to keep your parent safe and healthy.