Caregiver Conversation: What Life Is Like with a Dementia Diagnosis

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it is likely to come as a shock. Your loved one may have a hard time accepting the diagnosis, coping with what life could look like in a few years, worry about what people will think or even deny it altogether. Unfortunately, this can be particularly difficult for a caregiver. Caregivers are often the main source of support for their loved ones with dementia, and you may find that they withdraw or shut themselves off for a little while they come to terms with their dementia. “Although your first reaction may be to try to talk and bond with them, and try to get them to open back up to you, it may be best to give them a little space,” says Jimmie Fay Griffin, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Tallahassee, a Memory Care Assisted Living community in Tallahassee, Florida. “Pushing them too hard may cause them to become agitated or even depressed. It’s important to let them know that you support them and are there for them when they need you, whether they want to talk about it or be distracted for a time – but it is even more crucial to learn how to see things from their point of view and seek out education about what they are going through both at this moment and beyond. Knowing what to expect and having an idea about how they are feeling may help you to best support your loved one while providing them with the care and friendship they need and deserve.”

What Is Life Like After a Dementia Diagnosis?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, a dementia diagnosis is a difficult experience in which your loved one is likely to feel a range of emotions. To get a better understanding of what they are going through, try to see it through their eyes.

  • Expect and prepare for an array of emotions. The article states that some common emotions include fear, hope, despair, denial, numbness and confusion. It’s ok and understandable for them to grieve their losses and the future they expected.
  • Be ready for resentment and anger. The fact your loved one can’t control the disease may be a big cause of frustration. They may ask what they ever did to deserve a dementia diagnosis, wonder why it’s happening to them and not someone else. This anger and resentment is hard to get through, so finding support from a professional, trusted friend or even you is crucial.
  • Isolation may be at an all-time high. Because your loved one may feel as though no one understands what they are going through, your loved one may withdraw. This can also occur because of fear of how this news will affect everyone in their life. If you have friends or family who know someone who has had dementia, or had experience caring for a loved one with dementia, talk to them and schedule a time to meet. Support groups can also help, although it’s best to not push your loved one right away.
  • Watch carefully for depression that doesn’t go away. According to the article, depression and anxiety may stay after receiving this news. Talk to a doctor to try to treat it.

What Happens Next?

Once your loved one comes to terms with their diagnosis and emotions, it’s time to get prepared for other changes you may face. Depending on your loved one’s current abilities and the progression of the disease, you may not notice a big change. In fact, your loved one may still be able to work and drive. Encourage them to do as much as they can and live as they did before. It can also help to make a plan for the future ahead of time so you know how they’d like to be cared for. Would they prefer to live at home? Plan who will care for them, who will take on what tasks and if they would mind hired help. If they are open to a memory care community, begin touring so they can choose the one they’d prefer. Many will offer programming for those who plan to move to the community, allowing your loved one to meet others in a similar journey and helping them to find additional support and companionship. For more information about life after a dementia diagnosis, advice on how to help your loved one cope and where to start in planning for the future, contact the team at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. We would be happy to provide you with proven tips and support so you can help your loved one as much as possible. Give us a call today at 850-250-5671.

Inspired ● Engaged ● Fulfilled

If someone you love is living with memory loss, you want the very best for them. You’ll find it at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. Because Memory Care is all that we do, we have the unique ability to focus all our energy, attention and resources into creating an environment that caters to each resident’s needs, preferences and abilities while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. We see each resident as an individual because we understand that each resident has their own story. Using this idea, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence while creating beautiful days. No matter how much care they need, our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists can provide assistance with all activities of daily living while providing reminders, guidance, support and cues. Even better, residents and their families experience true peace of mind knowing that expert care is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our personal touch doesn’t stop at our care. In fact, it’s only just the beginning. We create days that leave residents feeling Inspired. Engaged. Fulfilled through our signature programming, YourStory. With individual experiences centered around each resident, engaging outings, services and amenities, activities, dining and more, we create opportunities to learn and pursue new endeavors. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, everything was designed for you, but it is defined by you, creating a lifestyle that makes every day a joy. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 850-250-5671 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.