How to deal with denial: My brother-in-law is... - Care Community

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How to deal with denial


My brother-in-law is in the very early stages of dementia. So early that in fact he doesn't have a definitive diagnosis yet. He's 82.

My sister, nearly the same age, is destined to become his carer as time goes on. She already does a great deal for him, to the extent that the signs of his dementia were fairly well hidden until recently, when a sudden deterioration sent her to see their GP.

But after several consultations, she still won't or can't accept what's happening. She makes every excuse possible for my b-i-l's sudden deterioration and this is obviously not going to be helpful in the longer term.

They live in a really unsuitable house with huge garden needing a lot of upkeep. It's challenging for two quite healthy and active old people, never mind when one of them needs constant care.

The house has no space downstairs for a bed and the stairs are exceptionally steep and are not even suitable for a stair lift.

They have four children who all have busy lives, love their parents but currently seem quite oblivious to what's happening and the changes that are occurring in their dad. None of them is in a position to be of much practical help in future when the going gets tougher.

There doesn't seem much that I can do. They live about 60 miles away from me so I can't help much practically and any gentle suggestion I've made about making changes now, before it's too late, have fallen on some very deaf ears.

I tried suggesting that embracing the diagnosis early might mean at least a little medical intervention would be possible to delay effects, but again this was partially brushed aside although it did lead to the initial GP consultation.

I partially feel that it's not my business. My sister doesn't want to embrace the truth and neither, it seems, do their children, but she is my sister and I love her, and I feel for both of them if they should slide into an impossible position with regard to looking after their home and struggling generally to cope.

Does anyone who has faced something similar have any idea as to how I might be of more use in helping them come to terms with this?

8 Replies

This is so very difficult for you Callendersgal as you have an idea of what lies ahead. Your sister just doesn’t want to know sadly so what to do?

The GP needs to do his very best and can in time involve dementia care people. There is also the Alzheimer’s Society. It’s all very well knowing this but if your sister and her family are in denial that makes things doubly hard.

Maybe a family meeting can be held which you could attend armed with lots of information.

There’s a hard road ahead which could be made a little easier but only when your dear sister and her family wake up to the future. I don’t envy any of them.

Hope things work out and please let us know. Xxxxx

in reply to sassy59

Thanks so much for your support sassy59. We do all need to talk, that's for sure.


Hello Callendersgal,

Well.. I know that it really is more than difficult for your soster to accept what's happening as it is for me to accept whats going on with my mum who is 78 and still waiting for a concrete diagnosis . My dad is only just 82 he will be her full time carer again when she hopefully comes out of our local nhs Elderholme, she has been there almost three weeks now.

We are still waiting for all the input from the social services. My dad doesnt have any time for himself let alone the gardens which need a lot of attention, should he get an experienced gardener to do it for him. He still has to make room for a specially adapted hospital bed and a special chair for mum in the lounge, maybe even decorate the room especially for my mum.

Plus he also has loads of filing to do but doesnt have time to even read important things that come and they all get mixed up

I have not long moved out and suffer from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I am housebound with it, so I can't really offer any practical help and I am the only daughter and dont have my own family because of my OCD , I havent had the opportunity to meet anyone yet


Its such a depressing situation for you, your sister and brother-in-law and of course me and my dad. I suggest your sister contacts the local social services and she can get a carers assessment aand your brother a community care assessment and assessment of need. There are several websites for you and your sister to visit.. and I'm not sure between the last two what the difference is... but I found out a lot for my dad to help my mum through the Alzheimers Society I sent away for everything they had to offer and took down phone numbers for local out of hours social services and whatever there is in our local area , plius their helplines are brilliant on all these websites thats what I recommend tou and/or your sister or both of you do.

My mums problems have been getting worse since February.

Mum had a letter a couple of weeks ago to ser the Consultant in October before she can be offered any treatment for her memory but she has been getting physio in this home she is in .

It takes two nurses to walk mum to the toilet or the communal lounge and back to her room, also to give her a

shower. I dont know how my dad will cope with all this on his own.

He has a long walk to the bus stop then gets two buses to visit her and the same coming home a whole hour per jouney for someone of his age having to rush round for wretched buses hanging around for upto half hour waiting for one or its gone early so he tries to get there a bit earlier now.

I'm still not sure yet as to what support my mum will need when she does come home. .

Best of luck to you and your family!!


in reply to Hidden

Thanks so much for your empathy, support and suggestions paula191. Best wishes to all of you too and I hope that at least some of your problems are resolved soon.

in reply to Callendersgal

You are welcome anytime.

When my wife came home from her 2nd stroke..I was sure she was starting to suffer from some form of dementia..luckily my daughter is a manageress of a home for people with disabilities and have me very good advice on how to handle wife see things and imagines things ..for her it's real..and when you say they are not..then she gets very upset..they themselves don't think there is anything wrong with them at at's you the carer that is telling them lies etc...besides this brilliant site ..there are other sites which give an in depth view of what the various forms of dementia how it can make a person reassured you are not the only one who suddenly has a loved one acting all strangely..........patience and remembering that they can't help it is the main thing...your sister and her children will one day need someone's advice because they will realise what's wrong..and unless prepared it will be a hammer blow....just be there for her that's all you can do

in reply to Tone54

HI Tone54

Thanks for your insight and wisdom. We are quite a close family and will overcome this and find a way forward, but it's really useful and interesting to hear about other people's journeys with this.

You have obviously managed to find your way forward, with great understanding.

Thanks again.

I thought I was alone till I can across this wife's problem was a hammer blow......but reading about other people's way of tackling it made me realize I wasn't alone anymore..our wishes to with you

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