My mom was diagnosed with dementia, but won't accept it. How do I get through to her?

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My Mom is 55 years old and was recently diagnosed with dementia. She is young and it is so sad to see her not be who she used to be. On top of it she is very depressed. She repeats her daily routine: Wake up, eat, smoke, take a walk, sleep and repeat. She doesn't think the Dr is telling the truth and won't accept that she has dementia. I'm worried she won't get approved for benefits because she won't admit to her symptoms. I have a POA already so I could just apply for her, but we'll have to do interviews, etc. I think I just feel stuck in what to do next. She currently lives with me but I work full time and worry about her being home alone. I have two young children too so I don't have the time and finances to provide full-time care for her. I'm worried she is not in beginning stages too because she can't manage her finances, can easily get lost, eats the same thing every day (fish sticks, chicken nuggets, and french fries for every meal). She is so stubborn and refuses to talk about anything. As soon as I do she says she is too tired and needs to rest. Or says we can talk about it another day. I feel lost and frustrated. Anyone else dealt with this?

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Your mother doesn't really need to accept her diagnosis (although that makes things easier for the caregiver). She "just" needs to follow a care plan, even if she doesn't know it is a care plan.

People with dementia cannot be alone all day beyond the very earliest stage. For example, it is wonderful that your mother takes a walk! Exercise is very healthy. But ALZ patients often start wandering. When I go out for a walk without a purse or ID I wear an ID bracelet with the number of a person to call if help is needed. I do not have dementia and I do not wander but I could fall and knock myself out or could be hit by a car, etc. It is just smart to have some helpful ID. Maybe you can get your mother to wear such an ID bracelet without telling her that dementia is the reason.

An adult day center can be awesome in your situation. They generally pick up and return the participants, often have breakfast items available, provide a nutritious hot lunch, have activities, and offer the opportunity of social interaction. Again, Mom doesn't need to go because she has dementia -- she can go to this nice social club so she isn't alone all day.

I think what to do next is to start the benefits application process. That would start with a needs assessment. We called social services for my mother. It is important that someone who knows her abilities be present at the interview. The interviewer knows that applicants often exaggerate what they can do, but they have to take their word for it unless they have other information. So when my mother said, yes, she could manage meals, we reminded her that she can't shop for food, she can only use the microwave, and it was getting harder and harder for her to carry the food to the table. She qualified for meals on wheels, but if we hadn't been there the interviewer would have had to write down that she could manage her own meals. My mother also said she could manage her own medications. Liar, liar, pants on fire! You get my point, I'm sure. Try not to antagonize your mother as you correct her, but make sure the interviewer knows the situation. You do not have to mention dementia at all during this interview.

All dementia is devastating. I think the early onset variety is especially terrible. Your mother should not have to be dealing with this so young! No wonder she can't accept it.
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How do you get her to accept it?

You don't.

That is part of the disease. You just learn to work around it as best you can.

At this stage with my mom, and we are still there, honesty is not as important as appeasement. I lie and withhold all kinds of information about which she can do nothing. I tell her what she wants to hear. It is not worth getting her all upset about things she will forget in five minutes anyway.

It is a different wavelength--but it is ok.
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Jenn, this can't be easy. I feel for you!

Start out by watching every Teepa Snow video you can get your hands on, on YouTube.
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I might ask her doctor about something called Anosognosia. It's not uncommon for someone with cognitive decline or dementia to not be able to process the diagnosis. It may not be possible for her to accept it. So, I'd focus on figuring out how to provide her with appropriate care, supervision and understanding.

I don't see how her denying her diagnosis, would limit her benefits. They go by the doctor's diagnosis. Many patients with dementia have no idea that they have dementia. It's part of the damage to the brain.

I agree about being careful of believing what she says. Often they report false information, because they believe it's the truth.

You really need to be in the home with the person for a few days, observing them, so you can see how well they really can function. IMO, you need this information, so you can report what her needs are. Does she need assistance bathing, dressing, medication, etc. I would say that a professional assessment to determine what level of care she needs would be good, but, the person doing the assessment, can't go by what she says, because her info is not accurate. In my state, the doctor fills out a form, that the long term care facilities, (AL, Memory Care, and nursing homes) need in order to place her in the right level of care.

My LO's doctor told her straight out that she needed AL, due to her significant dementia. We both encouraged her to voluntarily go. Her doctor said do it soon and that she would not let it go. I knew it meant that she'd have to intervene, if she didn't enter AL. Fortunately, my LO did agree to go voluntarily and I signed papers and handled things for her as her DPOA and HCPOA. If she had refused......I would have consulted an attorney about applying for Guardianship. Because, if I didn't, I knew the doctor would report her to Adult Protective Services and they would have intervened. It wasn't safe for her to continue to live alone.
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Your mom is so young. You need to start thinking about the long game here. Poa is good. Collect all her financial stuff and make sure she's not able to get scammed and spend money on worthless stuff.

Salisbury is right, she's not going to accept this. Tell her whatever it takes to care for her. With my dads dementia I may remark that his memory is not as good anymore and he will accept that and agree but if I were to tell him he had dementia it would just hurt his feelings and make him mad, so I just don't go there. Nothing to be gained. 

 We have to fib a lot and not talk about plans for a doc appointment or any financial matters with dad.  I do all the bills but dad thinks mom is doing it and that's fine.  The lights stay on and he's calm.

She could live for a long time. She'll need memory care. You have to look at funding. She have money? Have you applied for Medicaid for her?

Lots to think about. I'm so sorry this has hit your family so early.
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jeannegibbs; you are one of the members that I look for when I need some validation; its as if I can 'hear' you talking....you seem to think along the same lines as I do...Alzheimers dementia is so devastating for everyone involved it really helps when someone can give valued advice...thank you...:)
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The important thing is to get her the assistance she needs and the help she needs because she really shouldn't be staying home all day alone. People with dementia don't know when they are doing things they shouldn't and often forget at odd times things such as to take pills, to eat, to go to the bathroom, what to do in case of an accident or emergency, where they live, who they live with, etc. Even if she doesn't know or doesn't want to admit she has issues, the doctors can do a diagnosis and even if she says "I'm healthy" the doctor's paperwork will say she is not completely healthy.

Just try to get her some assistance. They often send someone into the house to observe. They do talk to the person in my experience but they also talk to me (they talk solely to me now as I'm POA and she cannot remember much about her day and will often talk about the past as though it's today so isn't helpful). The person will come in and ask what she needs assistance with. Be open. They offer many services. Personal caregivers can come to the house and sit with her or walk with her so she isn't alone. They can come help with basic tasks just to make sure she isn't forgetting to do them. When my grandma first got help, it was because she was forgetting her food in the microwave or missing pills. Then she fell and broke her ribs so they completely took over helping her dress and bathe and making sure she ate. It was so helpful to have someone come in while I was at work and make sure she was ok. She actually ended up looking forward to it. The personal caregivers can come help her to clean up, get dressed, help her make food, do her laundry, etc. They can drive her to places such as doctor's offices so she doesn't get lost and can take her grocery shopping. They van even pick up medicines and go grocery shopping if the person becomes house bound. Perhaps just getting someone into the house to help her out and be with her is the route you should be going. See if you can't find a companions number, often times hospitals or doctor's offices have these numbers on hand and can make a referral to help you get the process started.
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Thanks for all this good info. My Mom is denying her Dementia too and very frustrating for me trying to take care of her.
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It is all a clinical diagnosis by first ruling out other issues. She went to her primary care and they did a verbal memory test and ran blood work. They referred her to a neurologist who did an EEG and MRI. The MRI came back with shrinkage in her hippo-campus part of her brain. They said that is an indicator of Alzheimer/dementia. They also did a memory test with her. She could not answer the questions correctly at either doctors visits. I was also at her Dr visits to discuss the symptoms I noticed. She refused to admit her memory issues so the visits haven't been easy. One time she kicked me out of the room because she didn't like what I was saying.
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Anosognosia Is the word! As mentioned above, it’s part of the illness. Proceed as best you can and use that word when Mom is denying what you’re saying - to professionals you are seeking help from - not with Mom. That word won’t help Mom, but it says a lot for those trying to help YOU keep Mom safe. It’s a rough road!
My story was much easier. Mom denied it AND also believed it enough to stop sneaking medications she shouldn’t be using and it CLEARED UP HER DEMENTIA. For now. So Mom won’t even TAKE the tests yet again. But they aren’t needed now - today.

Just do your best each day. That’s all we have - today
Good Luck 🙏
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