There’s no right or wrong reaction to a dementia diagnosis. Knowing what to do next, and where to start can be difficult, given the news of this diagnosis.
Your loved one receiving the diagnosis may go through a wide range of emotions and this could overwhelm them, or they may deal with them one at a time; everyone is different. Although the diagnosis may be a confirmation of what was already expected, it will still come as a shock in reality. There will also be family and friends to inform and they will all have feelings around this.
Coming to terms with the diagnosis and telling the people who need to know is the first step. Once you have overcome the shock of the diagnosis, it is a good time to begin researching about dementia. Understanding the specific type of dementia that your relative has been diagnosed with, will help you to understand what to expect. Do some research by reading books, and attend a dementia awareness talk.
Information on what to expect can help you to determine what plans to make, and how to respond to changes as they occur.
Your relative will need plenty of reassurance, and time to come to terms with this. Let them know that you are there for them and acknowledge their feelings. Life can continue as it was, and your relative can carry on enjoying the things they did before. Keeping active physically and mentally is good for slowing down the progression of dementia, along with a healthy diet.
Plan for the future
Talk with your relative when it is appropriate, about what they want for the future. It’s important to do this while they are able to have a say and able decide for themselves about their future care, finances, and personal wishes.
You may wish to start talking about home adaptations, and whether your relative is likely to need help in the home, now or in the future.
Focus on the person
Always remain focussed on the person behind the dementia, allowing them to continue being involved in day to day activities is important, as is having meaningful connections with others.
You are going to have a lot of your own emotions to deal with along the way. It can be tough caring for a relative with dementia, you will need to ensure you have a good support network and take regular breaks.
As the dementia progresses, you will need to adapt along the way. People with dementia are able to live a good quality of life for quite some time.