Memory Loss and Denial

3 Fresh Ways to Work Around Someone Else's Denial
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As a hands-on caregiver, you may become aware of changes in your loved one's condition well before others believe there's a potential problem. How can you convince them?

Try these three fresh approaches:

  1. Frame the issue as a hypothetical. Sometimes people don't want to face the facts -- no matter how persuasively you present them. But they may be more willing to entertain a discussion about possibilities. Try framing what-if conversations: "What if Mom's forgetfulness isn't just normal aging? I'm worried about what that would mean for her checkbook." Or, "What if Dad's symptoms really do indicate something worse than a urinary tract infection? I know you don't think it's anything to worry about, but I'd feel better if we just talked through what the next steps might be." You can even talk about the problem generically, in terms of a friend or neighbor rather than your loved one. This can help nudge your relatives in the direction of entertaining an idea, as a starting point.

  2. Record proof visually. If your words won't persuade them, it's time to rely on the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words: Try pulling out your cell phone and recording what you see. You'll be able to record a worsening condition by comparing video taken at different times ("See how much more pronounced Dad's limp is becoming?"). Or you can record a confused conversation with your mom, confirming for disbelieving siblings that "I'm not making this up!"

  3. Keep a written log. Data can be persuasive. Record worrisome incidents in a notebook, noting the date and time of the event, as well as details about what happened and surrounding circumstances: Had you just eaten? Did your loved one have a bad night's sleep? If you're concerned about repetition that might indicate cognitive decline, for example, choose a set period of time during which you write down exactly what the person said, and when.

A written log is also useful to bring with you to doctor appointments, allowing you to explain symptoms in very specific terms and to watch patterns over time.


over 2 years ago, said...

When my journey began with my dad, I was the child that lived nearby, thereby making him MY responsibility. My sister was 700 miles away and in permanent denial. Friends were too. I tried to explain to everyone that he was changing and certain things should be done - for his safety. No one wanted to hear it or believe it. And they stuck true to their beliefs. I went through so much grief that I finally got to a point where answering to others wasn't necessary. I was wasting my time trying to explain exactly what was happening with my dad. I finally stopped and focused on caring for him. I started to have more confidence in my choices. I had good Doctor's for my dad and asked loads of questions. I made sure he was happy and all his needs were met. And I finally realized as my dad declined, some of his personal medical information was not for sharing. It wasn't my job to convince others. After I made that adjustment, my stress level went down considerably and I was able to enjoy my dad - wholeheartedly until the day he died. And I can say, I have no regrets.


over 2 years ago, said...

In my opinion , we should choose nice words to convey their short comings due to old age in a natural way wiuthout upsetting them.


over 2 years ago, said...

I received the dreaded emergency phone call in 2011 per my brother's request to a friend, "Call my sister." He was living alone, 1000 miles away, struggling to hang onto his independence, yet possibly realizing it was time, that something was terribly wrong, yet in denial then and now. Being so far away, relying on the occasional phone call hearing, "Everything is great," it becomes second nature to assume all is ok, we want to believe that. I Thank God he reached out to me. When I arrived at his home, my instincts told me all was not alright and I would not be leaving anytime soon. After a month of reconnecting with him, trying to bond, yet dealing with major personality changes, I, along with a doctor's encouragement, got him to come home with me to start opening doors on his struggles. I learned it was so important to witness, first hand, what was going on, realizing you can't rely on phone calls for someone struggling to hold onto their self and life. Friends come and go is true, their intent not always good, but, they are going to be on their sides (my brother's were not helping him in tough times, involved with their own concerns, yes, he was in dire straits). I remember the trials and tribulations of that visit, my intents were good, yet I was not well received; I was tired, hurt and angry. Hearing lame excuses and someone saying to me, "He's your problem now," I knew it was time to put the big girl's gloves on and get strong, address things and move on to our next chapter as family. I spent a month with him, witnessing first hand his struggles, the dilemmas of living alone, realizing it might not be an option. Assisting him, getting him strong physically, aiding the mental aspects, his confidence escalated, "Nothing wrong", he'd say, yet I knew there was and had arranged for the best of the best health team for him upon our arrival home. Sometimes we don't want to open doors, but, we do, cause we must. We don't have magic wands to make things go away, back to the way they were, but, we can make a difference. An illness is life changing for everyone. You take each day/moment as a new one and Thank God for it. The same old/same old is ok. I've heard it called, "the new normal." I'll take it, striving to make things better for now. God Bless All Caregivers


over 2 years ago, said...

I am in a slightly different situation.... my mom is not as demented as a certain person would like everyone to believe and has made a lot of decisions without proper diagnosis which could be very detrimental to her mental, emotional and intellectual health, all in the name of 'speaking for her'.... I hope to get a prescription for a neurological evaluation by an expert to get the necessary diagnosis so the proper environment can be found and treatment can occur.......


over 3 years ago, said...

I have been watching my 86 yr old father decline for the past 5 yrs. It is obvious to every member of the family that he is experiencing moderate to severe dementia. My step~mother complains about him and is outright cruel to him and now to me, now that my dad is unable to say anything. Just the fact that he just accepts her abuse is more than enough for my family to know something is terribly wrong. I have tried many time to discuss my dad with her. At one point I suggested that she, my son and I talk to his doctor together. She immediately went to my dad and told him that I had already "gone behind his back and spoke to his doctor! This is untrue and caused strife between me and my dad. I have asked her (over the yrs) what the doctor has said. Her reply recently was " I havent been able to talk to his doctor about it" . She also talked him in to NOT putting me on his HIPPA. My heart is breaking. I cannot even get in touch with him anymore. I have tried via every method....nothing. Help please?


over 3 years ago, said...

When i try to explain a situations about what my husband does, i get a lecture like (what do i expect) or (He's not the same person as he used to be.) I would really be in trouble if i kept a log and showed it to them.


over 3 years ago, said...

Common sense approach to difficult dialogues...


over 4 years ago, said...

I feel like we have the plague or something. I was told that one of our gransons hasn't been to see us because it bothers him to see his grandpa like he is . I apprecaite the honesty of this conversation.my husban can not do hardly anything with-out me . I sometimes feel like i have a new baby again.


over 4 years ago, said...

It seems that.the article was written more to address awareness amongst other relatives or persons of potential responsibility than the denial of the person themselves. Both are valid issues, but entirely separate. As noted by someone, one may have tod do with the selfishness of others: if there's really a problem, I might have to do something. The other, dealing with the prison, has a lot to do with giving up independence, admitting vulnerability. Personally, I've pretty much given up getting help. They don't want to listen, and don't live close enough to see...assuming they visited. So now the problem with the person and his independence, of which no one wants to deprive him. But he's already been the victim of several financial scams. The only thing that has protected against others is that he cant remember enough info to provide it to the cons.


over 4 years ago, said...

Wish there were more on this issue--and wish I'd seen it a couple of years ago.


over 4 years ago, said...

I just visited the website offered by annromick at www.alzheimers24-7.com and it is truly wonderful. It is sometimes easy as caregivers to allow our frustrations, anger and hurt feelings (when other family members do not participate in the care of our loved one with demential) to take over our own self-care and outlook on life. We get tired and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes. But Ann Romick's site (along with caring.com) give us terrific suggestions to deal with specific circumstances and tokeep positive, which helps our sitution and also our own health. At one time (when I was near exhaustion) I ruminated on how much one of my family members evades helping out with my parents (she was in denial and/or making excuses). I was financially, physically and mentally drained, and she was selfishing uninvolved. Now I realize that my journey on earth was meant to be different, and believing in God, he entrusted me (not my sister) with the care of my parents. While the onus of care sometimes feels intrusive, exhausting and burdensome, it is also an honor. It is His vote of confidence; even if we make mistakes, we are trying to help. And it can, if we permitted it to, make us stronger.


over 4 years ago, said...

I wanted to share another thought!!! How much of this denial is because they don't want to give up the their time to do their part??? I know this son was our baby and he and his dad did so many things together! Now he has just forgotten him!! My husband loves to fish but i no longer think it would be safe to be out in the water with him ! So we are selling our boat but our son has one. It would be nice if he volunteered to take his dad fishing And some of the things the article mentioned would not be for my husband either. He is stubborn and thinks he knows everything ! He can be loud and arguementive!!! And will not consider anything I suggest!


over 4 years ago, said...

I try and explain the changes in my husband, but i feel like the children don't want to hear or they think Mom is just being negitive. Two of them live away and it's hard for them to imagine.If i give details i feel them getting bored.Anyone in boat or is it just me???


over 4 years ago, said...

There are as many reasons for denial as there are friends and family. Having cared for my in-laws, my mother and now my husband (going into the 9th year) I do believe I've heard them all. While I can understand some of the excuses, such as living 800 miles away, I am bafffled at the self-centered comments from others: "Seeing mom/dad/loved one in this condition upsets and hurts me." "I'm not comfortable visiting them." "With dad's illness the home of my childhood isn't the same. I just can't go there any more." Etc. etc. While I can share their feelings -- don't we all feel sad -- this journey isn't about them. In one of my posts, www.alzheimers24-7.com which I titled "What's Your Excuse," I too addressed the seemingly lack of caring and denial on the part of many who should be helping. I do believe the caregiver is often reluctant to address the family/friend member and give small assignments which could help them get over their "fears" and/or lack of helping. It is a major problem for those of us who are the caregivers. I wish the lonely cargivers the very best in their journey. Thank goodness for supports such as Caring.com and other sites.


over 4 years ago, said...

It is timely in answering some questions that relate to an older sister and her evident dementia.


over 4 years ago, said...

What if the person you are trying to convince is the "patient," who's response to your concerns about some very obvious clues about his financial decisions is "I am willing to take that risk," or he continues to believe that he could never be scammed because he is just SO damned smart?


over 4 years ago, said...

My mom's denial is so bad...I can't even approach the subject of another doctor..(neurologist) Her doctor says there's nothing physically wrong..however, I know she says and does things that I'll say are not right and she bucks me telling me I think she's senile...She's 98 and has accused me of stealing even going as far back as 40 years ago saying she never wanted to sell me her house...and insists she didn't that I stole it from her...I even showed her a copy of the deed..nope, doesn't believe me...She's been misplacing things, blaming me for moving them among other things.I'm seeking help for my sanity as I've been the caregiver...My brother has been absent for the past 15 years and has suddenly shown a monthly phone call and visit...she seems to think he is the best thing since white bread..I tried to explain my concerns to him..but alas...'he doesn't see it'...she continues to call her banker several times a week...(he's expressed this to me)...asking the same questions...I don't know where to go from here...I do keep a journal because of what she's accused me of and what she's said...when I do bring it up she denies she said it and that's that...! no one here to help me...She's made changes to her trust thinking I've stolen from her...and when I was always included in her decision making..I'm out now and I don't know what is being done...though I'm the only caregiver she has..she's in assisted living facility and I take her to all her appointments and am there for her no matter what...I've always been there for her...it's like the past 20 years are forgotten