How to overcome dementia denial


It’s human nature to compartmentalize feelings or enter denial mode in the face of adversity. Individuals with signs of cognitive decline and their family members can experience dementia denial as a human expression of survival.

Denial kicks in when there’s something horrendous that the mind really can’t wrap itself around and figure out. People can engage in denial mindsets often with many different things, setting aside, if only temporarily, a confrontation with fate in an attempt to make it to the next day unscathed.

Sadly, some people will also adopt denial when dementia symptoms are present. Dementia robs you of your loved one, one piece at a time. As the weeks and months pass, your relationship might no longer be distinguishable of what it once was. It’s also very insidious. This is because it will rear its ugly head and show itself in dementia symptoms under the radar.

In the early stages, the symptoms may come and go. This gives loved ones the false impression that everything is OK. It allows some people to conclude that things aren’t too bad while dementia symptoms are raging on in a very negative way.

Dementia Awareness lets people grasp what’s truly happening, in acceptance of the human condition. At the same time, Dementia Awareness moves them to act.

As an internationally recognized dementia expert, I train people on how to provide memory care service in a way that brings about meaningful connections between those with dementia symptoms and those charged with their care. Meaning and purpose enter the equation with this type of dementia care approach. It gives families peace of mind that an enhanced quality of life and an enhanced relationship with those most important to them are absolutely possible.

It’s also human nature to want to make everything OK. When denial is set aside, people want to know it’s going to get better.

The antidote for dementia denial is to become Dementia Aware and recognize that some aspects of this disease will not get better because it’s progressive and will get worse. There must also be a reckoning that there’s nothing we can do to stop it, fix it or change it. What people can do is allow for a change in direction in the way they manage dementia symptoms. What does this mean? It’s accepting the highs with the lows. It’s finding opportunities to celebrate small victories and savoring every smile whenever possible.

In the acceptance of this, caregivers can also stand tall, process reality and access the help and resources to get through it all.

Being Dementia Aware is a loving approach to dementia care. It is positive and life-affirming because it promotes constructive actions. This approach helps families better cope with this unforgiving condition in a manner that inspires hope and fills them with reassurances that everyone is on the journey together.

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