Sometimes family members see early signs of dementia before older adults recognize that memory problems are impacting their lives. When confronted about memory loss, seniors may become defensive and deny that they have an issue. Unfortunately, their denial can mean not getting the treatment they need as soon as they could. If your aging relative is in denial about memory loss, below are some tips for how to handle the situation.
Don’t Compound the Denial
You may think you’re being kind when you ignore your aging relative’s memory loss. Mentioning the problems can make them feel bad, and you don’t want to do that. However, when you ignore the problem, you’re making it worse. For example, if your older family member insists they are still capable of handling their finances but then they forget to pay bills, they are going to end up paying late fees or having their utilities turned off. When you ignore the problem, you do them a disservice. Understanding this can help you to get over the guilt that confronting them makes you feel.
Before having a conversation with the senior about the problems you are noticing, it can help to compile a list of specific examples of instances in which they have exhibited memory loss. That way, when the senior says they don’t have a problem, you can talk to them about what you have noticed and have the proof the incidents happened.
Recognize Their Strengths
Sometimes it is easier to accept deficits when strengths are acknowledged. When you address the areas in which the senior needs assistance because of memory loss, be sure to talk about the things they can still do for themselves. For example, you might say something like, “It seems like you’re having some difficulty following the steps of a recipe, but you can still plan meals and do some of the cooking. Perhaps it would help for you to have an assistant.”
Be Prepared for Anger
No matter how nicely you approach the topic, it is still very likely that your older family member will be angry when you try to talk to them about memory loss. The angry response may be more of a fear reaction than true anger. They may actually see that there is a problem but unable to accept it because they fear being diagnosed with dementia. Knowing that the older adult will probably respond with anger can help you be prepared for it and react more calmly.
When the senior is finally ready to accept that they are experiencing memory loss, they may benefit from having home care. Home care providers can help them to work around their memory issues. A home care provider can assist them with cooking, remind them when it is time to take medicine, and help them to pay their bills. Home care providers can also make sure they stay safe and prevent them from making poor decisions because of cognitive impairment.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Ewing, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.