It’s not a diagnosis that we ever want to have to face up to, but it is one that many of us are going to have to cope with. Many of us will have loved ones that become diagnosed with dementia and if you are experiencing such a diagnosis with your loved one now, it can send you reeling. However, your loved one is going to need a lot of support in the coming months and years, so being able to cope with it can be vital. Here are some tips on how you can handle this diagnosis and the path ahead.
Allow yourself time to grieve
Accepting the diagnosis is the most important move, first and foremost. You have to accept that your loved one is going to change and, what’s more, that your lifestyle is likely to change the more active that you are going to be in their care, even if it’s just organizing it. You may also deal with anticipatory grief, even before the symptoms of dementia become more identifiable. Processing your own emotions is important. A lot of people are tempted to treat them like a distraction but the more you try to push them out of the way, the more disruptive they can be over time. It’s better for your mental health and more productive for everyone to deal with them now, which might including finding a therapist as shown at the Institue on Aging to talk to.
Start getting to know more about dementia
There are plenty of resources, both informational and otherwise, that can help you find your feet when you need to start considering the practicalities of helping a loved one with dementia. Your best bet is to start with organizations that specialize in memory disorders, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, and to start looking at the help and support that they offer. Every individual’s experience of dementia is going to be slightly different, but being prepared for changes and needs can be a great help.
Can you accept the role of caregiver?
It’s a question that many people have to contend with when their loved one receives their diagnosis. As you learn about your loved one’s dementia, you are also going to learn about the needs that they may need help with. You can look at guides on becoming a dementia caregiver to help you get an idea of how you can assist them in their daily needs, as well as steps you can take to help slow the progression of dementia symptoms. However, it’s important to understand that this role is often a full-time one.
Giving them the best care possible
If you are not equipped to provide the kind of care that your loved one needs, then you should try to not feel guilty about that. It’s a huge demand to ask of anyone and if you have other family members, a career, and other responsibilities to balance, then it’s not wrong to act based o your priorities. From there, however, you need to look at what kind of care arrangements you can manage for them. Live-in carers tend to offer the most customization to your loved one’s needs but are also the most expensive options, so you may also want to look at care centers like Memory Care for Alzheimer’s, Dementia at the Catholic Care Center. You may want to look at not just the care services provided by the facility, but also the inspiration and spirit behind their care. For instance, some places offer a more spiritual respite for those with strong religious convictions.
Becoming aware of the risk
If a loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, then it can understandably bring up concerns about our own health. As with any chronic illness, there is a genetic component. However, there is also a lot that you can do to protect yourself from developing memory disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. Look at some of the ways to make your mind more resilient to dementia, which can include taking the opportunity to challenge your mind more often, learning new things on a more regular basis, and even making sure that you’re socializing with others more often. The more active and engaged you keep your mind, the stronger it becomes, much like a muscle.
A dementia diagnosis is a dark chapter in any family’s story. Hopefully, the tips above can help you find the ways that you need to cope, and to find the path forward to keep everyone’s quality of life as high as you can.