It’s dangerous to be in denial about dementia

home care omaha dementia alzheimer'sIn a recent article she wrote for the Huffington Post, NYU Medical Center assistant clinical professor of psychiatry Carol W. Berman warns of the dangers of living in denial of our loved one’s diagnosed dementia. Berman can speak from experience, as her husband died in 2012 from Lewy body dementia, according to the article. While denial may block the more painful aspects of your reality, if it goes on too long it can put you and your loved one in life-threatening situations.

That’s why it’s important to break through denial. To help, Berman put together a list of signs of denial, adapted below.

  • Ignoring tell-tale signs. When your elderly mother often trips and drops things, it’s a more than just clumsiness. Rather it indicates her nervous system is impaired.
  • Idealizing your loved one. Your husband with dementia may have been your knight in shining armor for decades now, but thinking he’s perfect and can do no wrong will only lead to dangerous situation after dangerous situation.
  • Rationalizing behavior. When your loved one turns on a stove burner and walks away, don’t convince yourself that she will come back in a minute to boil a pot of water because she won’t — and if you don’t take action you could have a fire on your hands.
  • Allowing your loved one to venture out alone. Getting lost and losing a sense of direction are symptoms of dementia. That’s why it’s important not to let your loved one go on walks our run errands alone.
  • Trying to keep up with old routines and schedules. A person with dementia can’t go to work as usual, even if he or she might want to. Likewise with other aspects of a person’s schedule that are effected by changes caused by dementia.
  • Letting your love continue to drive. As a caregiver, it’s your responsibility to take over driving duties because it’s simply unsafe for your loved one to take wheel. If you can’t always be there, consider hiring a driver.
  • Anger caused by little things. When you’re in denial, you’re suppressing your feelings, thus anger and other feelings will be much more intense than normal. You’ll be able to regain emotional control once you’re out of denial.
  • Projecting your own feelings on your loved one. It’s impossible to always know what you’re loved one is feeling. So take time to sit down and talk at length, trying to figure out what’s the matter.

To help with denial, Berman recommends engaging in psychotherapy with a trusted professional and/or joining a support group, as friends and family are prone to being just as confused and frustrated as you are about your loved one’s dementia.

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