As the doctor repeated to my mom that she was going to make the recommendation to have her license revoked and my mom kept responding with one argument after another, Doctor J took another approach. She tried to explain to my mom how her notion that “Sometimes my brain is bad” combined with my dad’s lack of short-term memory, creates a very unsafe situation for them, especially when driving a car.
My mom starts to argue. The doctor gently explains to my mom that she is in denial and reminds my mom that she just told her that sometimes her “brain is bad.” The doctor continues to explain that what my mom doesn’t recognize is that the small gaps she perceives are really pretty large missing pieces of information. She gives her the example of walking to the exam room door.
“If I told you to walk to the exam room door, you could do that. However, if I give you a series of instructions to get to the parking lot, you would forget 3 of the 6 steps needed to get to the destination. Unfortunately, your husband can only remember 4 of the 6 steps.”
My mom seems to consider what she is saying. After a few seconds pass, she comes back with a rebuttal. This circuitous conversation seems to go on for a long time.
I’ve have been wondering about the idea of telling someone with dementia that they have dementia. Will they understand? Do they need to know? My mom has seen the neurologist reports. Now she just dislikes the neurologist.
After this discussion, it’s clear that my mom is still in denial. She will not accept hearing this. The fact that my dad has never slightly acknowledged her issues is perplexing. If he would speak up in this situation, would it help my mom accept this information she does not want to receive? Is he able to recognize that something is not right with her thinking?
There is no resolution or clear path forward, however, the community around us is stepping in and shoring us up. They are helping fill in where we have been unable to make any progress. Fortified.
To read about dementia from someone who has been diagnosed with it, please visit Kate Swaffer’s blog.