It’s Really Important to Talk About Dementia - Here’s Why…
Updated on: 08/03/2023
Receiving a dementia diagnosis can feel like your world has been turned upside down.
Whether it’s your loved one or even you that’s been diagnosed, the road ahead will seem uncertain…
But it doesn’t have to be.
Dementia is undoubtedly a journey and, as with any journey, it comes with an element of planning and preparation.
And to be able to plan and prepare ahead, you need to talk.
However, aside from the obvious need to plan ahead, there are many benefits in talking about dementia.
Talking to your loved one will help them feel reassured and let them know that you will be there with them along the way.
The diagnosis will be worrying for them, as they not only fear for what they are going to go through but they may also fear becoming a burden to you.
Of course, you won’t see it that way, but talking about it can help to put their mind at ease.
So, what sort of things should you and your loved one talk about?
How are they feeling? After the diagnosis, they may have difficulty with coming to terms with it. Common reactions understandably include denial, anger, sadness, fear, despair and even withdrawal.
So, talk to them to reassure them – let them know that you will be there for them and that they don't need to worry.
If they aren't coping with the diagnosis, you could also suggest speaking to a counsellor or memory clinic to help them come to terms with it.
Once your loved one has come to terms with the diagnosis, you can then start to plan for the future.
What help may be required? As their dementia eventually progresses, you may need help to provide them with the assistance they need.
Get in touch with your local authority and your GP to find out what help and services are available, early on.
You can then use this time to discuss with your loved one what help they would be comfortable receiving. As their dementia progresses, their feelings may change and their needs may change, so it's a conversation that you can try to have at different points along the journey.
You might also consider looking into and discussing lasting power of attorney, which would enable you to act on your loved one's behalf with things like finances, health or their welfare when their dementia progresses.
What do they want and/or need? At this stage, the main focus will likely be on their emotional needs – as in the first bullet point, they may need support from a counsellor or a memory clinic to either come to terms with their diagnosis or to gain a better understanding of "what happens next".
The other thing that they may need is a bit of time and space. After their diagnosis, there will be a period of adjustment (for you both) as there's been so much new information to take in.
If that is the case, make sure you also use that time to look after you and understand what you can do and where you can gain further advice and support.
In addition to talking to your loved one, it’s also good for you to talk with others – friends, relatives, or even professionals.
You will also be on an emotional rollercoaster as you come to terms with your loved one’s diagnosis and talking to others is a good way to cope with your emotions.
It will also help them understand what you are going through, so that they can perhaps provide support when you need it.
As we mentioned earlier – dementia is a journey, and there is support available to you both.
Once everyone involved is comfortable with what is going to happen, you can start to put measures in place to help your loved one manage day-to-day.
Take a look at this article we’ve written that will give you some helpful advice and practical tips on how to help your loved one with their daily routine, as they progress along their dementia journey.
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