What to Do When Elderly Parents Deny They Have Alzheimer’s Disease

What to Do When Elderly Parents Deny They Have Alzheimer’s Disease
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is perhaps one of the most difficult to accept, and yet an estimated 50 million people around the globe have Alzheimer's or related dementia. How many suffer from the disease but haven’t been diagnosed — or deny their diagnosis — is unclear. Described by the Alzheimer’s Association as the most common cause of dementia, it is understandable why anyone diagnosed with the disease would be devastated. Some fail to believe or accept their diagnosis. This presents a challenge for adult children who understand the ramifications of nonacceptance.

Denial isn’t the answer

Facing dementia is scary, but the first steps toward treatment begin with acceptance. It is the only way to move forward, and elderly parents who refuse to believe a doctor’s assessment will slip backward. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a steady decline, but for those who refuse treatment, the decline is steep and rapid. It’s possible to live for many years with Alzheimer’s disease. How well you live depends on early detection and treatment. The goal is to stave off serious symptoms for as long as possible, but it isn’t easy to convince a skeptical parent that episodes of memory loss aren’t natural to old age. Their denial delays treatment.

They can't help their denial

Anosognosia is a condition that causes a person to deny a medical condition. It is the failure to accept a physical medical condition even when the symptoms match a disease like Alzheimer’s. The brain won’t allow the informati
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