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In Home Care: Are You In Denial When Mom Needs Help?

Jul 15, 2017 by Comfort Keepers Denver

Noticing a loved one’s declining health can be extremely disheartening. However, what can worsen the situation is being in denial about it.

Being realistic about what kind of care your loved one needs and what ultimately may happen to them is the best way to ensure they have a quality end of their life. Here are some facts about denial and the dangers of it:

What is it?

Denial can be either subconscious or deliberate, but both forms of it can be dangerous. It essentially involves disregarding or avoiding something that shouldn’t be ignored. In this case, it would be disregarding your loved one’s declining health and need for care.

Why am I experiencing it?

Some people react to stress by skating around it as much as possible, or ignoring the issue altogether. Again, this may be a deliberate reaction to the stress, or it may be something we do without even realizing it.

Seeing a loved one in distress can be a very stressful situation indeed, so denial can be a common reaction.

How do I know if I’m in it?

Sometimes it is not obvious that we are in denial – hence why the problem gets ignored.

But realizing we are in denial is the first step towards getting on the right path. Some things to look out for are:

  • Other family members or caregivers telling you there is a problem. If someone is calling you out on being in denial, there’s a high chance that you are.
  • Getting angrier than you normally would. When you suppress other feelings by being in denial, some other feelings may be amplified.
  • Rationalizing your loved one’s strange/changing behavior. Coming up with some radical answer for every component of your loved one’s declining condition is a sign that you are avoiding the real issues at hand.

What can I do to get out of it?

Once you acknowledge you may be in denial, there are some steps you can take to get out of it.

  1. What is so scary about this situation that is causing you to shut down? Addressing the fear you may be feeling is an important step to getting over this denial and on towards acceptance. You can write this in a private journal, talk to a family member or friend, or even seek counseling about it.
  2. Think ahead to the future. What benefits can arise from you getting your loved one the help they need? Or, if you continue ignoring your loved one’s problems that aren’t being addressed, what could happen to them?
  3. Use the resources available to you. Talk to other family members, their caregivers or healthcare providers, and even your loved one themself. You don’t have to solve this issue alone.

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