Although dementia diseases are incredibly common, no one wants to face that someone they care about might be diagnosed with these conditions. It’s a heartbreaking and stressful situation to face for many spouses, siblings, and children. If you learn your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia disease, you will likely feel overwhelmed, upset, and fearful of what the future might hold. But the more you can learn about this disease and what to expect, the better position you’ll be in to handle anything that comes your way. After a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, you may want to consider the following.
Remember Acceptance Takes Time
Assuming that you have already sought out a second opinion (which the Alzheimer’s Association recommends), you will have to accept the fact that life will never be quite the same. Whether this diagnosis is something you had already suspected or it came as a total surprise, it will take time to fully sink in. Give yourself permission to deal with this new information at your own pace. Although accepting reality is an essential part of this process, it certainly won’t happen overnight. You’ll have a lot to figure out. Realize that even though this diagnosis signals a significant shift, you still need to be patient and gentle with yourself (as well as those around you) while you navigate these uncharted waters.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Whether you plan to take on the role of primary caregiver or will be seeking assistance from memory care programs in your area, you’ll likely need to adjust to both a new routine and a new outlook during this time. You may feel as if you’re on an emotional rollercoaster — feeling numb or even relieved one minute, and depressed or angry the next. It’s important to acknowledge these emotions, rather than try to minimize or deny their existence. Allow yourself to feel angry, isolated, sad, guilty, or whatever emotion comes to you in the moment. Try to accept the fact that these emotions will surface on a regular basis and understand that you will need to go through this unique grieving process.
Learn All You Can
Understanding dementia diseases can be difficult at times, particularly because many patients have a combination of several diseases. It’s also a disease that may not directly affect your life until you reach a certain age, as most (though not all) dementia patients show signs of cognitive decline as they get older. While this condition can be quite scary, it will help to become as familiar as you can with these diseases. Get your hands on all the information you’re able on the stages of dementia, available treatments, common medications, lifestyle changes, and issues that caregivers face. There are many books available on this subject, as well as information on official websites that can help you.
Explore Support and Care Programs
At this time, it’s important that you seek out memory care programs for your loved one. While you may be inclined to care for them on your own, this can lead to caregiver burnout and may not allow you to enjoy the time you have with your loved one. The medical professionals and staff members involved in memory care programs can develop a dementia care plan specifically for your loved one that can maintain their quality of life and ease your own stress levels.
Because one in three seniors passes away with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it may help you to know that you are not alone. Just as you have sought out memory care programs to address your loved one’s needs, you’ll also need to address your own. Be sure to explore resources (such as support groups, individual therapy sessions, and other enriching activities) to prioritize your mental and emotional health, too.
Caring for someone with dementia will never be simple. But with help from doctors and healthcare experts, memory care communities, and others in your circle on whom you can rely, you will be armed with the knowledge and strength you’ll need. To find out more about Alzheimers care options at our facility, please contact us today.