Learning that someone you care about has been diagnosed with dementia can be life changing. Coming to terms with the diagnosis requires time. Immediate reactions of denial and fear are normal and may help you and the person diagnosed process the grief you are feeling.
Give It Time
Allowing time to process the diagnosis is an important first step to adjust to this “new normal.” The process of acceptance is just as important for the caregiver as it is for the newly diagnosed person. No two people deal with the diagnosis in exactly the same way. There is no right approach and some days may be more difficult than others, but don’t be discouraged.
Healthy To Grieve
Allowing yourself time to grieve and mourn over the current and future losses you and the diagnosed person may experience can be healthy. The sooner you are able to accept the diagnosis, the better suited you will be to help the person living with dementia move closer to acceptance too.
Persons living with dementia acknowledge that while it often takes time to accept their diagnosis, specific actions initiated by the caregiver help in this process.
Patience, flexibility and open communication can provide reassurance that the person living with dementia does not have to face their diagnosis alone. For many, the simple reinforcement from their caregiver that “we are in this together” is the most memorable act of support.
Consider these tips to help the person in the early stage of the disease come to terms with his or her diagnosis:
- Provide time for the individual to feel sad about how his or her identity is changing as a result of the diagnosis.
- Emphasize the roles and responsibilities that are still significant to the individual’s identity, i.e. grandfather, mother, daughter, etc.
- Encourage the person to speak with a trusted friend or even a professional counselor, to talk through difficult emotions.
Connect With Others
Sharing the diagnosis with others can open up new relationships and connections to people you did not realise were willing to support you. For others, hearing of the diagnosis may test relationships and some friends and family may react with denial, or pull away in ways that reflect their misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease.
Yet, it can be empowering to share the diagnosis with others. Be open with friends and family about the changes that are taking place. Educate them on the disease and tell them how they can be supportive.
Here are more resources about dementia
Need more help?
Send us your enquiry
Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 8:30 pm
Sat: 8:30 am – 4.00 pm
Visit the AIC Link branch
nearest to you