Brickmont Assisted Living Blog

Helping Your Loved One Recognize Health Concerns

Posted by The Brickmont Assisted Living Team on Jun 1, 2024 8:00:00 AM | 4 minute read


When your loved one begins refusing to recognize health concerns or consistently denies that they’re experiencing changes, confronting these wellness issues can be an emotional upheaval. Instinct urges you to protect and intervene, but approaching this subject with a loved one in denial often feels like a delicate challenge.

  • How firm should you be? 
  • Can you persuade without pushing too hard? 
  • What if it's too late?

Brickmont Assisted Living understands the gravity of these questions. In our commitment to care, we offer guidance for loved ones who might not yet realize they need help. Our team wants to give you insight into the nuanced art of handling denial when your loved one refuses to recognize health concerns. 

Understanding Denial

Denial is more than a refusal to acknowledge a health concern; it is a psychological coping mechanism, often born out of fear or anxiety. It’s a subconscious attempt to protect mental well-being from the potential trauma that’s associated with an illness. 

For those coping with the fear of a diagnosis or those facing declining health, the mindset can be alarmingly empowering, providing a false sense of control and optimism. Understanding this psychological shield is key to dismantling it with care.

Coping with Denial

People refusing to recognize their health conditions may behave as though the problem doesn’t exist or isn’t severe. They might neglect to follow through with treatments or appointments, but this doesn't mean they are willfully turning a blind eye. Instead, it’s a complex defense mechanism that must be addressed with sensitivity and understanding.

The Impact on You

Witnessing a loved one in denial can provoke a range of emotions, from frustration to helplessness. Acknowledging and managing these feelings is essential to approaching the situation with the calm and empathy it demands.

Helping Your Loved One Recognize Health Concerns

The first step is the most crucial – opening lines of communication. Approaching the issue with confrontational language could strengthen their denial and push them further away rather than allow them to feel supported and heard. 

Instead, take a gentle yet assertive stance. Express your concerns and highlight specific behaviors or symptoms that worry you in a tone of voice that indicates how much you care for your loved one’s well-being. 

Strategies for Dialogue

Start conversations with “I” statements that express your feelings and frame the issue as a mutual concern. Avoid blaming language or moralizing the situation. For example, you might say, “I’ve noticed your cough has been persistent, and I’m worried it might be more than just a seasonal cold. How can we address this together?”

Active Listening and Empathy

Listening to your loved one’s worries and fears without judgment is crucial. Reflecting on what they say without offering immediate solutions can be a deep comfort. Here’s an example:

Say that your loved one has been exhibiting the signs of cognitive decline. If they begin to talk more about the fear of receiving a dementia diagnosis, rather than immediately recommending a doctor or a care plan, say something along the lines of, “I understand exactly how you feel. It can be scary to think about the potential of being diagnosed with something like dementia.” This expression of empathy illustrates your unwavering care and understanding, even during difficult moments.

Seeking Professional Help

When the conversation becomes too emotional, or you’re met with an impasse, it may be time to seek professional assistance. A healthcare provider’s voice carries weight—often more than that of a family member. These professionals have tools to approach denials constructively and can provide a clear, expert assessment of the situation.

Emotional Support

There is no shame in seeking out counselors or support groups to help you and your loved one through this challenging time. In fact, it’s commendable. Troubles shared are troubles halved, and the strength found in support can make battles with denial more bearable.

Addressing a loved one’s refusal to recognize health concerns is one of the most challenging obstacles a family can face. It requires empathy, sensitivity, and courage. By understanding the roots of denial as a psychological defense, approaching it with open dialogue and empathy, and seeking professional support, families can transition through this difficult period with compassion and effectiveness. Remember, denial is a barrier, not an impasse. With the right strategies and support, it can be overcome.

For families seeking compassionate care solutions, Brickmont Assisted Living’s senior living team in Atlanta extends a hand to guide you through. We believe in proactive support, genuine communication, and individualized care. Our community embraces those who might be treading through the first steps of recognizing their health state. It’s not only about care; it’s about family. 

Ready to take a step towards a better future for your loved one? Contact our team today to learn more about senior living in Atlanta!

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