Recognizing Denial in Older Adults Diagnosed with Dementia

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How to Recognize Denial in Aging Adults Diagnosed with Dementia in Douglas County, CO

Denial is a powerful psychological tool that’s sometimes used as a defense mechanism until a person can get used to a new health diagnosis. However, seniors who are in denial about dementia diagnoses place their safety and health at risk. If you provide care for a senior loved one, it’s important to understand denial is often masked as other behaviors that may be used to hide a senior’s challenges or avoid difficult conversations. Knowing how to spot these common signs of denial can enable you to get your loved one the right type of help.


Many caregivers discover that a senior who is normally easygoing may suddenly get defensive when the topic turns to dementia. Older adults who lash out in anger may simply be trying to cover up their fear. Although it may be challenging, stay calm during your loved one’s angry outbursts and make sure to revisit the conversation later.


Seniors with dementia often come up with many excuses for their behavior. Attempts to rationalize may be as simple as claiming they were too tired to remember missed doctors’ appointments, or they might create elaborate explanations for why they got lost in familiar neighborhoods. Seniors in denial also frequently claim their memory lapses are just the result of normal aging.

Attempts to Cover Up Challenges

As dementia progresses, a senior in denial may try to hide problems caused by his or her decreasing mental abilities. For example, your loved one may hide that he or she forgot to eat dinner or claim an unpaid bill never arrived in the mail.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Castle Rock seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Refusal to Seek Treatment

Seniors who have yet to be diagnosed may refuse to talk to doctors about their memory lapses because they’re afraid they’ll be told they have dementia. A senior who remains in denial after a diagnosis may claim the doctor doesn’t know what he or she is talking about and refuse to follow the treatment plan.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Continuing to Place Themselves at Risk

Seniors who are in full denial may continue to do activities that put their safety at risk. Getting in traffic accidents, getting lost, and forgetting to turn off major appliances can all add up to serious problems if denial continues.


Social events can often cause anxiety for seniors who are in denial about their dementia. They may skip family dinners and holiday events where it may be obvious that they cannot remember names or follow normal routines. If your loved one suddenly begins to isolate him or herself from others, it may be time to address the topic with him or her directly.

If your loved one is living with cognitive decline due to dementia or another condition, compassionate help is just a phone call away. Families looking for top-rated Castle Rock senior care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. Call us at 720-580-5378 today to talk to one of our compassionate Care Managers about our high-quality home care services.


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