What do you say to a Mom who either does not acknowledge that she is dealing with some dementia, or does not understand what is happening? - AgingCare.com

What do you say to a Mom who either does not acknowledge that she is dealing with some dementia, or does not understand what is happening?

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Years ago she was told she had mild cognitive impairment, but "there is nothing wrong with your brain! Here are the xrays to show anyone who questions that!"

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Some patients benefit from acknowledging that they have dementia. That can be very helpful for the caregiver. Many would not be helped by knowing. In this case I see nothing to be gained by getting Mom to recognize what she prefers to deny.

My husband acknowledged his dementia from the very beginning. It was very useful to him in understanding his strange new world to know there were physical problems in his brain. We never use the "D" word with our mother -- denial has been her major coping mechanism all her life. What would be the point?

With Mom I don't say, "That's happening because you have dementia." I say, 'It's not important that you don't remember whether you've had lunch. Other people will keep track of when you've eaten and not let you miss a meal unless you want to. You took care of other people all you life. It's time to relax and let yourself be taken care of a little."

It is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Keep in mind that often a person with dementia will forget what you say but may remember for a long time your tone of voice and attitude. Be a comfort to Mom.
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Mom says she's fine. Her doctors tell her she is fine. Relatives who call long distance for a few minutes think she is fine. So she is stuck on fine. Never mind that the CT shows her brain shriveled up like a raisin. Apparently when you are 87 that is just fine. Sandandsun, just tell her she is fine, because I have told my MIL she has Dementia and she doesn't remember. It's like telling a drunk they are besotted. They don't remember it the next day.
Insults here are often unintentional outbursts of emotional overload. Don't take them to heart, forgive their venting, and move on.
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This was my first post on this site, and it may be my last. Perhaps Eyerishlass was having a bad day, but I felt like I was being attacked. I have since read some of the experts advice, which has been helpful. Since I was with my mother when the neurologist told her the results, I do think he was trying to reassure her. Unfortunately, her intellect level has always made her defensive. She is a former nurse, and I know she understood what he meant. Now, when she is frightened, and says she doesn't understand, and I know it is denial, I don't know how to respond. But, regardless, if she chooses not to "want to know", I will follow the experts advice and not try to explain. I understand we are different people, and while I would want to know and would require details, she chooses to deny. That is her safety net. Thank you Sodonewithsal1 for your compassionate and kind response. Perhaps I will try again with my need for support.
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I don't understand why anyone would offer X-rays as proof that there's nothing wrong with your mother's brain. X-rays would show the bones in the skull and the nasal sinuses, and they'd be able to detect calcifications within the brain, but they wouldn't show the brain itself. Maybe your mother misunderstood, or whoever told her that was trying to reassure her that she was okay.

It's probably best not to try and convince her that she has dementia. It would only make her angry and defensive, and even if she seems to understand what you're telling her, she'll probably forget.
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You don't say anything. If your mom was diagnosed with dementia and refuses to believe it don't cram it down her throat. She may not remember you having told her or she may be in denial. Either way it doesn't do anyone any good to force information upon someone with dementia. It's asking too much of them and will only drive us nuts.
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