Caregiver Concerns

Denial: A Caregiver Danger (and How to Cure It)

Because nobody wants a loved one to have dementia, caregivers are vulnerable to a particular kind of denial that's both self-protective -- and ultimately dangerous. That denial causes a caregiver to go along with the person's insistence that there's "nothing wrong." We let them drive far longer than is safe. We neglect to safeguard finances. We continue to ask them to babysit when they lack the wherewithal to make decisions in a crisis.

The cure for denial is simple truth. Here's what this looks like:

  • Keep adjusting to a "new normal." It's natural to err on the side of wanting to keep everything as much the same as possible. But the reality is that the definition of normal must be continually revised.

  • Consider the bigger picture. It's not just about your loved one's life. Consider the safety of your loved one and others who might be affected, such as children being cared for or innocent pedestrians on the road.

  • Stay informed. You probably learned a lot about dementia initially, but it's important to stay ahead of the curve and keep learning about what's coming next. Most forms of dementia are progressive, which means every month can bring changes.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio