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Why Some Families Choose Not to Share an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

By Jonathan Wells, 9:00 am on

The signs of Alzheimer’s are generally subtle at first. The disease creeps up and begins to steal your elderly loved one in ways that may be hard to recognize. Eventually a time must come when you, your family, and your aging loved one must acknowledge what’s happening to seek the best treatments and long-term home care solutions. For some, however, denying the truth is easier than accepting it.

The Stigma of Alzheimer’s

There remains a stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease due to, at least in part, a lack of awareness and understanding. According to Alzheimer’s disease International, 75 percent of people with dementia and 66 percent of in-home dementia caregivers say that others perceive people diagnosed with dementia negatively. A whopping 40 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s say they’ve been treated differently since their diagnosis. Many people just don’t know how to behave around someone with dementia and this can be scary for the senior diagnosed, his or her family, and close friends.

Denial of the Diagnosis

Just as some family members will seek to hide a loved one’s diagnosis, many seniors who have been diagnosed will also try to deny an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a common problem that can cause major conflict within the family.

Whether it is the senior who has been diagnosed denying it or the family members, both sides feel like denying the disease means everything will be fine. As long as no one acknowledges someone is sick and not going to get better, life can continue as it always has. The stigma of the disease itself can also come into play. Some family members may try to hide their aging parent or grandparent’s diagnosis out of fear or apprehension while others may hide it because they’re afraid to confront the disease itself. Denial is often a coping mechanism to hide emotions of fear, grief, loss, and uncertainty and is a deep part of the human psyche that plays into our instincts to reassure ourselves.

Learning to overcome the stigma of Alzheimer’s and accept a loved one’s diagnosis can take time, but recognizing the disease is important to preserve his or her quality of life.

You may be nervous about taking on the roll of caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, but help is available. As a leading provider of Douglas County Alzheimer’s care for seniors, Home Care Assistance offers flexible respite care options as well as comprehensive live-in care for seniors who require around-the-clock safety monitoring. For more information, call 720-287-1685 and request a complimentary in-home consultation today.