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How to Speak with an Elderly Loved One Denying an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Acceptance of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis takes time, and it is common for seniors to deny their health condition both before and after a doctor has provided confirmation. As an at-home caregiver, your loved one’s denial can interfere with your ability to keep him or her safe. While you may not be able to force your loved one to admit that they have Alzheimer’s, you can use these strategies to foster better communication regarding the condition.

Practice Empathy

When a person is in denial, he or she is usually covering up challenging emotions such as anger and fear. Respect that your loved one is struggling with these emotions, and use a compassionate tone during all of your discussions. Often, time and patience are all it takes to help seniors find acceptance.

Work Behind the Scenes

If your loved one shuts down at the smallest mention of Alzheimer’s, then it may be necessary to recruit some outside help. Call your loved one’s physician and voice your concerns. Doctors are willing to talk to patients and perform an assessment if they know a loved one is noticing signs of Alzheimer’s.

Choose Your Battles

No one responds well to someone who is constantly bringing up a difficult topic. If your focus is on your loved one’s safety, avoid mentioning small memory lapses such as a lost television remote control. However, it is absolutely necessary to talk to an aging parent who may no longer be safe driving or who is regularly forgetting take medications. When a conversation is necessary, keep it short and focus solely on why you are worried.

Be Prepared to End the Conversation

Once a conversation becomes heated, it is no longer effective. Many families find that multiple conversations are required before their loved one is willing to fully accept an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. If your loved one becomes angry, sulks, or refuses to discuss the topic, end the discussion and plan to revisit the conversation later when he or she is rested.

Offer Solutions

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis represents many unknowns to someone who is in the early stages. Instead of focusing on the problems your loved one may encounter with his or her daily life, offer suggestions for assistance like in-home senior care. Knowing there is a plan in place for meal preparation, home safety, and transportation can lessen the fears surrounding Alzheimer’s and help your loved one find acceptance.

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis the future may seem uncertain, but you and your loved one don’t have to face it alone.  We’re known for our trusted Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Toronto that provides support for seniors and their families through every stage of the disease. Our experienced caregivers can help with everything from running errands to providing safety monitoring and companionship, and our dedicated Care Managers are available 24/7. Call (416) 488-8777 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more.