My mother does not believe there is anything abnormal about her memory or behavior. To us children it's been a frustrating reality that dementia has taken a strong hold. But to her, its the aging process and we need to accept it. I had a talk with the doctor, who first mentioned it to us, and she finally ordered an MRI, which mom then refused to have done. How do you convince, or do you convince, a loved one that she has dementia and that it can be treated?

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If she refused the MRI and other diagnostic tests, she is indeed giving you trouble. Does this doctor have enough feeling that dementia is present to prescribe some of the current drugs used to slow decline? If she goes for, say, a blood pressure checkup, and her doctor just prescribes the Rx, would it be possible to give tell her she is getting it as protection against vascular dementia or something? I'm just fishing for what she may accept as preferable to doing nothing. I’m thinking that by approaching it as “preemptive,” she may be more willing to do something.

It sounds like she has the same feeling about dementia that many people have about mental illness, and she'd rather live in denial. She likely doesn't understand that while there is no cure, there are drugs that do help a lot of people slow memory loss.

If the doctor can dance around the wording just a bit, your mother may be more accepting of taking a prescription. Your situation isn't all that unusual, unfortunately. Denial is very convenient when we don't want to look at the truth.

I'd talk with her doctor again and see if there is some way to try medications that could help her. Otherwise, the decline will just continue (but likely faster). Either way, you will need to start planning for her future with dementia.

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