- Kathryn Watson
Diagnosed With Dementia? Dealing With Grief
There are approximately 55 million people diagnosed with dementia all around the world. Given how rapidly the old population is increasing, this number is expected to rise. The dementia diagnosis doesn’t come easy on the patient or their loved ones. And grief can overwhelm both the caregiver and the newly diagnosed. This is why it is important to know how to handle them.
The most important thing to remember here is that no two people are alike. Everyone will respond differently to the same diagnosis. However, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. You should just know how to deal with each of these reactions. As the patient or their loved one, this wouldn’t be easy. The key is to give yourself and those around you time, and one day, you‘ll get there!
7 Steps To Take When a Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with Dementia
You can’t change someone’s diagnosis. But there are steps you can take to make this journey easier for them and yourself.
1. Learn More About The Disease
Anxiety-related to any disease or condition often stems from a lack of knowledge about it. If you don’t know about dementia, there are plenty of places you can learn. There are many websites that offer valuable information about this condition. You can also consult your loved one’s doctor to know what you should expect.
Dementia is a condition that progressively worsens over time. Talking to an expert about some of the dementia-related behaviors will prepare you in advance. This knowledge will also help alleviate the fear of the unknown. This way, you would be more aware and educated to navigate your loved one’s journey with dementia. You would also feel like you’re more equipped to serve as their caregiver if need be.
2. Understand Dementia-Related Behaviors
While you are learning more about the disease, you should really focus on what you should expect. There are some dementia-related behaviors that a caregiver or someone close to the patient should know. As a person’s mental state deteriorates over time, they might start displaying aggression, confusion, and even experience hallucinations.
While this may not be your primary concern right after a diagnosis, you should still know this. This knowledge will help you adjust to a loved one’s behavior better. You can also start your search for coping strategies to make this easier on them and you.
3. Seek Help
If your parent has been diagnosed with dementia, you may not be able to handle them on your own. Most often, children adopt the role of primary caregiver. However, you should be practical and think about whether you can do that. Do you have a demanding job? Do you have young children? Do your financial conditions allow you to take on the role of a dementia caregiver? If none of these conditions are favorable, you might enlist the help of a sibling.
If your siblings aren’t willing to help, you can also search for memory care homes. A memory care home is a professional facility that caters to people with dementia and related problems. They have trained staff and activities that strive to provide the best care for your loved ones dealing with this condition.
4. Engage in Fun Activities
Just because your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia doesn’t mean you should treat them like a patient. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get them medical help. But don’t confine them to a bed. Feeling isolated and lonely can bring on depression, which is common with dementia. You can engage them in activities that they like doing.
You can have them listen to music they like. Music therapy can help evoke memories and even contribute to improving memory-related conditions. You can also look through old photo albums to help them stay connected to you and other family members.
5. Be Patient
A loved one may not fully understand that they have dementia. These feelings of helplessness may bring upon grief. This is why you should give them time to accept this news. Grief is common with a huge revelation, so you shouldn’t feel frustrated when they act up from time to time. This is devastating news for you, so imagine what it would do to someone who has memory loss!
You can help them through this difficult period by offering your support. Since you’re only human, it’s normal that you might lose your patience. You can join dementia support groups to help you cope with this problem. You might get reprieve there, and this will help you handle your loved ones in a better manner.
6. Spend More Time With Them
When a loved one learns they have dementia, it can be a lot to take on. They can start displaying odd behaviors and even become unusually withdrawn. When the grief is still fresh, what you can do is keep them occupied. One way to do that is to spend more time with them.
You can invite over close friends and family, so they don’t seep into a pit of depression. It is common for dementia patients to feel lonely, especially when the news is so fresh. They are still coping with what is happening to them, so make sure they aren’t left alone during this time. Make their favorite foods, share stories with them, and just give them company.
7. Don’t Treat Them Like They’re Sick
When a dementia patient is still absorbing this news, the last thing you want to do is add to the grief. You should take measures to take care of them, but don’t act like they are ill, as early on, this might do more harm than good. When they see such a drastic difference in treatment right away, they might start to react.
Instead, let them come to terms with this at their own pace. You should increase your care for them, but don’t do this all of a sudden. Take it slow, so they don’t feel overwhelmed by all the sudden changes around them.
And be sure to get the help you both need. reach out to us to see how we can help you.
In honor of our founder Pat Mack, we are carrying on the tradition of caring for our residents in "The Light Heart Way"
Light Heart Memory Care homes are specially designed for 8 residents. This gives us the ability to give personalized care to each and every resident.
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