The prospect of a dementia diagnosis at any age is a daunting one. Receiving this kind of news is a shock that we would all prefer not to face, but for the recently diagnosed there are useful strategies that can help one ease through the moment and regain a sense of stable footing. In processing your diagnosis, you will likely experience a broad and evolving array of emotions, which is an entirely natural part of coming to terms with the challenges ahead. Giving yourself grace to acknowledge and experience those feelings and share that journey with others, whilst taking practical steps to prepare for the future, will help not only you, but your loved too.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a term that we use to describe the type of cognitive decline seen in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Symptoms are progressive and include a decline in our capacity to access memories, think clearly, put our thoughts into words, and problem solve. Sadly, there is no known cure for dementia, but understanding which type you have can help you familiarise yourself with how your condition is likely to evolve, and how best to prepare. While there are no treatments that can stop the progression of dementia, there are several drugs that may help to alleviate symptoms to some extent. Equally, there are lifestyle changes, supplements and therapies that can also contribute to the management of dementia.
Allowing Emotions to Surface
A dementia diagnosis is a scary thing to face, and while you might expect to feel a certain way or feel that you ought to try to be strong and keep your feelings under wraps, taking the time to process your emotions is a vital step to take. Swinging between several different emotions is entirely normal, and there are no rules that dictate how you should feel.
For 42% of adults in the UK, dementia is the health condition that makes them feel most afraid, and of course, it makes sense. It is understandable that not knowing how you and your loved ones will be impacted in the future might make you feel fearful or angry, or experience a sense of grief, but the intensity of these emotions will gradually lessen. Sometimes, we simply are not ready to face a diagnosis and enter a period of denial before we can begin to process. This can be a common initial reaction to the prognosis of dementia, but in time that disbelief will also pass, and you will feel more able to accept and adapt.
It might seem strange, but a wave of relief can be a common experience for many. When you have known on some level that something was wrong for a long time, being able to make sense of your experiences can feel like a weight has been lifted. Your concerns are validated, and you can now prepare for what lies ahead. If you feel isolated by your diagnosis with a sense that those around you can’t possibly understand, try to remain open and share your emotional journey as soon as you are able. Your loved ones will benefit from being able to support you, and you in turn will be stronger for not have to carry this burden alone.
What To Do Next?
Establishing a support network is the first intention to set and move towards after receiving your diagnosis. This can mean talking through your diagnosis and feelings with family and friends, however, it can also mean seeking practical and emotional guidance through all manner of other channels. Your GP will be able to advise on local services and support options, such as specialists or counsellors. Keep in mind that your loved ones will have to process too, and this does not make your feelings any less valid. Even if they react strongly, know that all being on the same page and standing united will be an immense help as you collectively move forwards.
The next intention to aim for is preparing for the road ahead. As your dementia progresses, making important life decisions will become increasingly difficult. By arranging your finances, planning your care, and making sure that your affairs are in order sooner rather than later, you will discover greater peace of mind. If you are still working, consider how your condition is likely to progress and make plans to transition as it does. Identify a loved one to whom you can give power of attorney, and who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable. Although these arrangements can be difficult to make, you may discover a sense of liberation in making practical preparations and expressing your wishes now. Ultimately, this will leave you able to relax and focus on doing the things that make you happy, enjoying the present moment with loved ones, and not having to dwell on the details.
The Benefits Of Professional Support
Professional care providers can offer support in a spectrum of ways. While your first thought of professional care might be full-time or live-in care, Heritage Independent Living can also provide peace of mind through a friendly face popping by for a few hours each day to help out with chores.
Sometimes, admitting loneliness or struggle is the hardest part – experiencing genuine and caring support can mean turning a corner into a brighter day.
Contact our friendly and knowledgeable team to discuss tailored care solutions to meet any need, be it large or small.