Encouraging My Client to Accept Their Condition - DementiaHub.SG

Encouraging My Client to Accept Their Condition

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It can be difficult to accept a dementia diagnosis, and understanding the reason behind the denial is important to coming up with strategies to help your client.

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be harrowing—it’s normal for the person who has been diagnosed to feel a range of negative emotions, from sadness to frustration, or even outright denial.

Continued denial can pose problems when your client refuses to accept help in future, or continues activities like driving even when it has become unsafe for them to do so. The refusal to acknowledge that they are experiencing memory or cognitive difficulties could sometimes be due to fear, or a genuine inability to understand that there is a problem. It is important to identify the reason why your client is denying that they have dementia so that you know how to tackle the problem.

Anosognosia

In some cases, your client’s struggle to acknowledge their condition does not stem from an active effort to deny the signs, but rather is due to an inability to understand that there is an impairment. Known as anosognosia, changes in the brain mean that the individual truly believes that there is nothing wrong with them. This can be frustrating to deal with as a care professional, but it is important that you acknowledge that this is not your client’s or anyone’s fault, and accept it for what it is.

With anosognosia, no amount of evidence will convince your client to accept their diagnosis. Instead, you will need to come up with care strategies working around this. As long as it does not pose a safety issue, it is okay to let them keep helping out around the house or their day activity centre.

If you believe that your client has anosognosia, it is important that the psychologist working with your client is consulted to ensure he/she gets a proper diagnosis. Medical professionals working with your client will also be able to better advise on how to proceed in such situations.

Fear

Denial of a dementia diagnosis often stems from fear—there’s just something about accepting the condition that makes it seem more real.

Right after the person has received their diagnosis, give them some time and space to think about it, and how they want to approach the situation or proceed. Do give them some time to speak to their loved ones and caregivers too. However, if they continue to deny their diagnosis, do be patient and continue to support them.

One of the things you can do is to find out more about the dementia support groups or therapies run by Dementia Singapore or other organisations, and encourage your clients or caregivers to try attending them. If caregivers and your clients attending these sessions with caregivers and other people with dementia, they may be able to see how such persons are still capable of living meaningful lives and having fun. This can be helpful in assuaging fears they have and allow them to come to terms with their diagnosis.

It is also important to stay calm and supportive. Persons with dementia can live full and fulfilling lives with your support, especially at the early stages. Check out the stories of dementia advocates from Dementia Singapore’s Voices For Hope programme, and other inspiring persons with dementia like Kate Swaffer and George Chong, who are embodiments of the fact that life does not come to and end because of a dementia diagnosis; rather, it is a new adventure.

How Can I Encourage Someone to Seek Help for a Dementia Diagnosis?

Source: Dementia-Friendly Singapore

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