1. dottitudor

    dottitudor Registered User

    Feb 24, 2015
    11
    Worcestershire
    My mother has just been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimers and vascular dementia, but refuses to accept there is anything wrong. The lady from the Memory Assessment Service was very good but mum just didn't listen to her and refuses to accept anything is the matter with her. She is very upset at getting letters offering support as she doesn't see what they are talking about. Her memory is really bad, and the latest problem is that she thinks someone (cleaner or someone else) has taken her vacuum cleaner and is now accusing people of lying when they try to tell her no-one has taken it.

    I am an only child and live with my grown up daughter an hour away, and there are no other relatives. I simply don't know how to cope with her refusal to accept that she has problems. If anyone can give me any help, I would be very grateful.
     
  2. Adcat

    Adcat Registered User

    Jun 15, 2014
    290
    London
    Evening,
    My dad was diagnosed with mixed dementia 5 months ago. We lost Mam 2 years ago and subsequently diagnosis was challenging because of the bereavement.
    I broached the subject of his memory with dad several times. He was very concerned that I was worried about him but adamantly said there was nothing and I shouldn't worry. I eventually persuaded him to accompany me to the GP and he got referred to an old age psychiatrist. Dad was very compliant with the psychiatrist but stated that there was nothing wrong at all with his memory. Dad had started to wander in the middle of the night. He also burnt out 6 electric kettles. I The psychiatrist advised me to accept dads denial and work with it. The idea being that dad was likely to get depressed if the truth was hammered home. I decided that I could not risk dad being on his own so I have a carer for dad via an agency whilst I am at work. Dad thinks the carer is a friend of mine who stays with him to ease my anxiety about him being lonely. I also have a cleaner and a gardener that are 'my friends'. Cosistency is key. Dad self funds and I hold power of attorney.
    I hope this helps. Take care.
     
  3. dottitudor

    dottitudor Registered User

    Feb 24, 2015
    11
    Worcestershire
    Thanks for the help. However, my mother is 95 years old and fiercely independent. She says that at 95, her memory won't be as good. She cannot see that she has other problems. She simply will not accept any help. I hope to get her to go to a group with people with the same dementia, but I very much doubt she will. I simply do not know how to cope with her absolute refusal to accept the dementia and the subsequent problems.
     
  4. count2ten

    count2ten Registered User

    Dec 13, 2013
    186
    en

    Evening Dottitudor, your mum is doing well at 95 ... my mother (90 now) was diagnosed about 3 years ago and was in denial as well, threw away all the hospital appointment letters for the memory clinic etc until the illness started overtaking her and then it was a gradual "introduction" to several of my "friends" that I worked with who came to see her (psychiatrists, CPN, carers) and she reluctantly accepted these people coming into her home (I always insisted they rang her doorbell so she could have control over when and who - although this was sometimes a bit hit and miss and involved numerous phone calls from carers, doctors, nurses etc when they couldn;t get through the door!). But we never mentioned the word "dementia", just said it was her memory getting a bit dodgy. I think I was probably in a bit of denial as well for a long time until I realised that trying to drag her back into my world instead of living in her world was probably the worst thing I could have done to her. She is now in a lovely CH after getting a serious infection over xmas - she is still in denial but healthy and reasonably content.
     
  5. dottitudor

    dottitudor Registered User

    Feb 24, 2015
    11
    Worcestershire
    Thank you - that is really helpful. My mother hates the thought of any illness, so she doesn't know what dementia is, thus making it even more tricky! She too cancelled all appointments - it took 2 years to get a memory assessment. But at least I can now put a name to the problems. Not mentioning the word dementia may well work with her - leaving it as a really bad memory, and gradually getting support as the dementia gets worse. I know I have to go with the flow with her but she is staring to get very aggressive and argumentative with friends and the warden of the flats she lives in, so it does make it hard to know how to cope. I guess it's just a case of taking each day as it comes.
     
  6. Roses40

    Roses40 Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    473
    manchester
    I have learned a lot here on TP by reading about other people's journeys. The thread about compassionate communication was a revelation and so helpful to me. Perhaps someone could do the link thing for you or you could do a search for it
     
  7. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,641
    Female
    South coast
  8. dottitudor

    dottitudor Registered User

    Feb 24, 2015
    11
    Worcestershire
    That's fantastic and just what I need. I accept the problems but it's knowing how to cope with her that is the difficult part.

    Many thanks to all for their help
     
  9. Cat27

    Cat27 Volunteer Moderator

    Feb 27, 2015
    9,797
    Merseyside
    Thank you so much for posting that link Canary.

    My Dad is in the process of being diagnosed & it's a massive learning curve.
     
  10. dottitudor

    dottitudor Registered User

    Feb 24, 2015
    11
    Worcestershire
    Getting worse!

    Thanks very much for the compassionate communication link. I put it into practice last time I visited my mum and it worked a treat.

    However, things have gone drastically downhill since then - less than a week. She rang me today convinced that someone is getting into her flat and taking things. The things are not only the vacuum cleaner from a couple of weeks back, but now she says someone is getting into her flat when she isn't there and taking china, things from her bathroom, and the cover for her budgie, amongst other things.

    She is very upset that so many strange things are happening. I know that if she could only accept the dementia diagnosis it could possibly be sorted out. But I know that she will not - living in a different world to us.

    I am at my wits end wondering what on earth I can do, as she is accusing her cleaner and the warden of the flats and me of taking things. How on earth do I cope with this? Help please!
     
  11. Delphie

    Delphie Registered User

    Dec 14, 2011
    1,249
    My mum was just like that. In complete denial and convinced that people were stealing her things and plotting against her.

    Unless this is a phase or a reaction to an infection (which might mean that all this is short lived) the only thing that will probably help is medication. It's made a massive difference to my mum, but, and it's a big but, she is now in care and being medicated covertly. There is no way she would take anything willingly and as she lived alone before the care home, there was very little anyone could do to help her.

    You have my sympathy. It's a horrible thing to have to deal with. The person is distressed, no amount of reassurance helps, and quite often the nearest and dearest find themselves accused too.

    I hope things improve, somehow.
     
  12. dottitudor

    dottitudor Registered User

    Feb 24, 2015
    11
    Worcestershire
    Thanks for your thoughts Delphie. We have thought of the medication route with the memory assessment lady, but she thought it wasn't a good idea for her, particularly as she is 95 and on other medication. She is visiting again in a couple of weeks so I will speak to her about it again then.

    I spoke to the warden today and she says that mum is fine today and gave me some ideas to try out. There is a local dementia café that she recommends that I will try out if I can persuade mum to go too. If I promise her a cup of coffee I expect she will be happy to go!

    I know that I have to cope with it on a day to day basis, but it's such a horrible thing to have to deal with. All the comments on this thread has been so helpful, so many thanks to you all.
     
  13. Bernadette2

    Bernadette2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2015
    27
    #13 Bernadette2, Mar 13, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
    Maybe not denial

    Maybe it is not denial? My mum has had Alzheimer's for about 7 years now, probably kicked off when she was 65, and for many years she cared for my grandma who had it. So you would have thought that when we speak to her about her memory problems and even use the term "alzheimers" without as the other respondent said wanting to hammer it in - she would get it and tragically realise what is going on and where she is headed. But - for some reason - Maybe it is a safety mechanism in her mind, maybe it is the illness, she cannot appreciate or fully retain a meaningful memory of what she has. At first, Our family tip toed around for quite awhile unable to discuss what was going on and I thought she was joining in with that - but now - since she has been diagnosed and we have had more frank discussions about what is going on and we daily, quite clearly have to assist her - you would have thought that she would have begun to admit that something more than being 70 years old is afoot - but no - that is how we see it and not how she with alzheimers does - she seemingly cannot fully grasp what is happening - and I guess that is the only kindness this illness has afforded her...
     
  14. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,641
    Female
    South coast
    It seems to be quite common. Mum not only doesnt realise that she has Alzheimers, but she has forgotten that she has anything wrong with her - despite having multiple medical problems! She will, nevertheless, down her pills quite happily - Im not sure why she thinks she has to take them!
     
  15. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,287
    SW London
    I think it is often not being 'in denial' as such - it is more that the person genuinely doesn't think there is anything wrong with them. They can't remember at any given time that they are forgetting everything, and can no longer manage to do this or that. And from experience, the worse dementia gets, the less likely it is that the person will understand that there is anything wrong - their memory won't let them. My mother still genuinely believed there was nothing wrong with her when she could no longer even make herself a cup of tea - but of course if you had asked whether she could make a cup of tea she would have said 'Of course I can!' - probably quite indignantly - because she truly had no idea that she no longer could.

    The first time I really knew it was dementia and not just old-age forgetfulness, was when she phoned her bank about something and could not remember - literally the instant she had put the phone down - what they had said. But of course, within seconds she had forgotten that she had forgotten, so to her there was nothing wrong.

    I think this is quite common, and it's usually not much use trying to get the person to accept the facts when they are never going to remember. You just have to get on and do/arrange whatever is necessary as best you can without a lot of discussion, though I know this is very often a lot easier said than done.
     
  16. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    269
    This is an interesting discussion and probably more complex than one might first realise.

    My aunt certainly would deny there is anything seriously wrong with her and when medication has been offered by the memory clinic, she flatly refuses it, but at the same time she will admit to taking certain supplements (vitamins, extracts and some 'snake oil' I'm trying to wean her off) to improve her memory.

    She has always been one to believe in her own ability to diagnose and treat any health problems (usually with food supplements) and would often dismiss the opinions of any 'experts' she didn't agree with.

    So now, I find it difficult to establish whether her reluctance to accept help is pure denial that anything is wrong, when it could be that she knows she has an illness, but thinks she has the solution to it and just won't accept anyone else's diagnosis or treatment.

    Whatever is behind the 'denial', if someone with dementia (who still has mental capacity) is refusing all offers of assistance, diagnosis and treatment, there's not much we can do other than take measures to keep them away from danger and monitor the situation in the hope they will become more cooperative in the future.

    In the meantime, I think there's little point in trying to explain to them that dementia is the cause of their problems and perceptions. Maybe its better to invent explanations, however surreal they might sound, which defuse and give some sort of closure to the situation in hand. I think it probably helps if you have a somewhat surreal imagination, as you can attempt to place yourself in their world and come up with an explanation you would be satisfied with!

    Hope that helps a little with your situation. I'm an only child too and live over an hour away from my aunt so I appreciate the difficulties. You can only do your best.
     
  17. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    And I wonder what role fear plays in this too.

    OH said to me yesterday something about 'this Alzheimer's he is supposed to have' so even now he is still in denial.

    His mother had Alzheimer's and he clearly remembers how it affected her and naturally he doesn't want to end up like that. Because of his lack of understanding of his current problems, I am sure this is just his way of dealing with it.

    Loss of control of one's life must also be a very fearful situation to be in and while independence is important to us all, I feel that this is a rather different issue.
     
  18. Bernadette2

    Bernadette2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2015
    27
    I agree with you Witzend. At first, because my mum was young/65 when it started, I felt it was her right know what was going on and I thought it might help her to tell people what she had since she was hiding away from social situations and feeling stupid and judged all the time. But, it became clear that she was much happier not addressing it and now, like you, I believe she cannot keep a meaningful memory of her illness and for this I am very grateful.
     
  19. Bernadette2

    Bernadette2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2015
    27
    Yes, Sinkhole, I think that this is a very interesting and complex discussion too and invention and imagination are probably going to be our best tools. My Dad and I have never been able to answer this question - how much does she really understand about her situation? And as many of you have said, I guess it does not matter, as long as she is happy....( in the back of my head I often remember her saying, after a hard day caring for my Grandma with Alzheimers, this (illness) would be my worst nightmare)
    I think you're right Lawson 58 fear must play a huge part in all of this too...
    Had a tragic conversation with mum on the way back from the consultants and it went like this:

    Me: well that went quite well hey?
    Mum: yes, we had a nice chat, thank goodness we didn't get in to the memory bit
    ( I've asked consultant to not do mental tests anymore cos she hates it)
    Mum: when did the whole memory thing start again?
    Me: I think it was after you were caring for Grandma and Grandad and when your brother died...
    Mum: yes, Grandad was lovely wasn't he, but she, 'woo' she was doolly alley wasn't she?! I don't know what was going on with her!?
     
  20. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    269
    I saw my aunt today while she was visiting my mum. She was a bit worse than usual and may have had a fall when getting off a bus at the weekend, but it is so difficult to decode her ramblings sometimes I wonder if it may even have been imagined!

    In any case, I tried very hard to convince her I could help with the things she needs to do at home, getting her doorbell fixed, finding some items which have been 'moved' by a non-existent person etc. etc. but every offer was met with a "no thank you".

    I ended up asking her several times the same question - "What can I do to help?". The answer was "Nothing". :(

    She was intent on going to the local supermarket on her own to buy some biscuits she likes. Neither my mum nor me wanted her to go out but my offers to buy them for her or at least take her there in the car were met with a very firm "No" yet again.

    It transpired later that she had left her purse at home that morning so if she had gone out it would have been a waste of time as she couldn't have paid for anything.:rolleyes:

    In the end, I just decided to sneak out, get the biscuits and take the flak later. When I got back with them, she just said "Oh, you decided to go and get some of those after all?" and accepted them gratefully!

    She might refuse help and deny there's nothing wrong, but when the help is given to her anyway she doesn't seem to resent it.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.