The word denial is defined as “the refusal to admit the truth or reality.” When it comes to accepting the truth about a loved one’s recent dementia diagnosis, family caregivers can often have a difficult time accepting this new reality. While denial can sometimes be used as a coping mechanism, the longer you remain in this state, the more dangerous the situation can become.
Signs of Dementia Caregivers in Denial
It’s vital for dementia caregivers to recognize their loved one’s situation and have a realistic perspective about the future. This way, you can ensure the best overall quality of life not only for your loved one, but also to reduce some of the caregiver stress you may face. A few ways caregivers display signs of being in denial include:
- Rationalizing new behaviors. You might be excusing some of your loved one’s actions or mood swings as just normal behaviors, or blaming it on stress or tiredness.
- Ignoring the signs of dementia. Struggling to complete daily tasks, trouble with communication, often getting confused with time and space are just a few of the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease that need to be taken seriously.
- Not adapting to changes in lifestyle. After a dementia diagnosis, your loved one will most likely have a new routine and require extra care, whether from a family caregiver, a professional, or even need to move into a memory care assisted living community to ensure his or her safety.
- Allowing loved ones to continue living life as usual. The lifestyle changes dementia brings means your loved one will no longer be able to drive or go on walks alone, as wandering is a serious risk. Even cooking dinner for himself or herself can be dangerous, as it’s easy to walk away from a stove after turning on a burner, forgetting it’s been left on.
- Suppressing or projecting your feelings. When you’re in denial, it’s common to suppress your feelings about the situation. This can actually lead to anger or other strong emotions you feel you have no control over. Likewise, you might think you understand what your loved one is going through and project your own feelings onto him or her. However, it’s important to sit down and discuss your loved one’s feelings.
- Not seeking any form of caregiver support. While talking to friends or family about your situation can be helpful, it can also aid in your denial. Those closest to you might be sharing in your denial over your loved one’s condition. A better idea is to join a caregiver support group so you can get objective opinions from a professional and others who are in similar situations.
Denial can lead to serious consequences for both you and your loved one with dementia. For instance, not accepting the fact that your loved one’s health is deteriorating can lead to accidents like falls or medication overdoses. You might be delaying the professional help your loved one needs, putting their health needs and quality of life at risk.
You can also see a decline in your own health due to dementia caregiver stress, leading to you becoming a less effective caregiver. Getting the support you need early on will allow you a chance to share experiences, learn how to cope with your loved one’s situation, and also provide the opportunity to help others.
For more information about Memory Care Assisted Living at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/service/memory-care-assisted-living/.