In Denial


Registered User
Aug 23, 2006
I have been reading these pages for a while now and they bring back a lot of memories when my Nan had Alzheimers. She passed away a long time ago now.

Then reason I am writing is partly because I feel quilty and want to get it off my chest and the other reason is where do we go from here.

I noticed that my step mother- in-law was having memory problems and sometimes she would say odd things about 2 years ago, I spoke to her daughter and she said that I was over reacting and she could not see that there was anything to worry about. At Christmas my in-laws insisted that we spent Christmas Day with them with the 3 children. It was very hard - she really cooked a disasterous meal, cooked chicken breasts, peeled boiled potatoes and over cooked veg. I really tried to help, but she wouldn't let me and my father in-law said let her get on with it. She sat there the rest of the day looking very vacant and did not join in the conversation. Shortly after Christmas my father in-law came round and asked if I had noticed anything different about her. I said yes (well I said a lot more than that) and advised him to see his GP - he said no because he would be going round her back. In March he did see her GP. Anyway trying to cut this short last week was her appointment at the Memory Clinic for the results of her scans etc.

The thing that I do not understand is that my father in-law still does not know what is wrong with her (she does have a thyroid problem). He said that all the tests were clear and that the doctor has given her some new tablets which should help. I asked what they were and he showed me. They were aricept - so I take it from that that she has Alzheirmers. I mentioned to my father in-law that these tablets were for some form of Alzheimers. He went on to say that she is not as bad as some of the people at the clinic and he went on to describe them. I asked him if my mother-in-law new what was wrong with her. He said she just has memory problems, a lot of old people have memory problems. I have spoken to people if is quite common. He then said not to mention it and to stop going on there is no point worrying she could be run over by a bus. Stop worrying about it!
My husband then joined in and said why do you keep going on about it leave him alone he will only worry.

I feel terrible now I should have kept my big mouth tightly shut.

Some days he confides in me telling me about the day she had put the butter in the freezer and he got cross and that he upset her and felt quilty. The day they asked the neighbour round for coffee and she ignored her and went and hung the washing out. She has good days and bad days. On good days we can have a good conversation mainly about the past (discussing the present is difficult) on bad days she just looks vacant and withdrawn and very difficult to talk to. When I phone she knows who I am but cannot remember my name.

She can never find things in the kitchen and looking on this web site it suggest labelling but I mentioned it to him and he said I will not have my kitchen messed up. I think he finds it all rather embarassing. An old neighbour of theres has a handicapped child and he said it is so embarassing for them. I was so shocked when he said this. I suppose it is just there way and I have to learn how to act.

What do you think, do you think they should live every day as it comes and not look to the future is this a good way to be - just put your head in the sand. I must admit he does deal with a lot of things like this. My husbands mother died when he was 12 and he never encouraged him to go to the funeral and to this day he has never visited her grave. He is 45 now.

Thank you for reading this.


Registered User
May 24, 2006
I think the big problem is the patient has no insight whatever into their condition and the husband simply wont face the situation because denial is easier


Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
Years ago my husband gave me advice about trying to tell some one something they refused to believe - "You can tell them once, you can tell them twice, then it is up to them" I wonder if this advice may apply to your situation. Sooner or later they will have to face up to the truth. All you can now do is support them in the best way you can until this time comes. It will be hard for you to watch this happening and have to live with them through it. They are on a new, very difficult journey and will discover things about themselves they never before knew.
You have my very best wishes for the future and please don't torture yourself by thinking you shouldn't have mentioned it. Of course you should!


Registered User
Mar 16, 2005
Hi Teresa1 and welcome to TP.
do you think they should live every day as it comes and not look to the future is this a good way to be - just put your head in the sand.
I very much agree with TinaT. You have tried your best to make your in-laws aware of the facts but they do not want to see at the moment.

You have been through this with your Nan but people who have not come across Alzheimer's before (especially in someone so close) find the whole situation so much harder to accept (speaking from my experience). You do not need to feel guilty though, over time they may see you as their first port of call for support because you have been so open and honest about the situation.

Denial is just one way people react to something this big but I don't think it is really any easier for the person doing the denying than it is for others who are watching it, even if it might seem that way.


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya Teresa,
You are going to be invaluable to the whole family as things develop - you are going to have to drip feed them information, when you feel that they are ready to hear it. You are going to be the one who finds out what help is available, when you see it becoming necessary. I would tell my dad things, but it would be months before he was ready to act. You and your husband are going t have to watch out for your FIL's health, because it sounds as though he is the type who will struggle on, cover up, try and keep everything 'normal'. Don't force him to look too far forward - too scarey-he needs just to take one day at a time, and make the most of it. I am sure that he is not daft, he knows the implications of the word Alzheimers - but at the moment, it is OK just to have memory problems. That's all my mum understood.
You have no need to feel guilty - you have voiced the 'dreaded' word - now your husband and FIL need time to let it sink in. Men deal differently with things I think. Women need to talk about it - sharing, talking, facing it head on. Men I think need to retreat to the cave, and slowly come to terms with what is going on.
(Please don't shoot me down all you fellas about making such a sexist comment!!)
You will gain plenty of information and support from TP. There are also AS information sheets that you may be able to download - one way I managed to get information to dad in the early days "Oh look what it says here about...."
Best wishes,


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Amy said:
Women need to talk about it - sharing, talking, facing it head on. Men I think need to retreat to the cave, and slowly come to terms with what is going on.
(Please don't shoot me down all you fellas about making such a sexist comment!!)
I always think that this is where the close relationship between man and wife [or partner] is at its strongest. Somewhere in the middle is the most effective route.

Sometimes it is best to retreat to cave to regroup, and there to work out what needs to be done. Gather more information, come to terms, but in an appropriate place.

[my turn to be sexist] sometimes some folks just like to talk and share as an end product....... ;)

Don't get me wrong, there is no sense at all in not coming to terms with it, or in hiding it away! It is simply that some people do it one way, some another.


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya Brucie,
OK,OK - I know I can waffle on some days!! It's just about respecting all parties isn't it - sufferers and carers? Being open to one anothers needs. Daren't say anymore, just in case I am talking and sharing as an end product!!
Love Helen

Oh and by the way - there was no implication in my original statement that one was better than the other - and, there is a complete spectrum. Thank God we are all different.
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