If a loved one of yours has recently been diagnosed with dementia, it might feel like there’s a lot to think about. You might not know where to begin or what to think about. It can definitely be an overwhelming diagnosis, but there are ways to cope and lower the stress for yourself and for your loved one.
The first thing you’ll want to do is become informed. Find out what you can from a doctor or from any pamphlets that are available. This will help you know what to expect and might even give ideas of how to help out your loved one.
After the diagnosis and after you’ve started to notice changes, you might feel tempted to do everything for your loved one. Don’t give into that impulse too quickly, though. Your loved one will maintain a better sense of self longer if you allow him or her to stay as independent as possible for a longer amount of time. Adjust as necessary as the dementia progresses, but do try to allow your loved one to continue to at least feel independent.
Sometimes your loved one will display some unusual or uncharacteristic behaviors. In general, you shouldn’t correct these unusual behaviors. Doing so might just upset your loved. It is often better just to follow along with whatever his or her reality happens to be in that moment or to allow to unusual behavior.
Before your loved one’s dementia progresses too drastically, make sure you’ve talked about the legal and financial issues that will need to get sorted out. Explore your options together so you know your loved one’s preferences. This will most probably be a difficult conversation, but it’s one that needs to happen.
If you’re getting overwhelmed, make sure you ask for help. If there’s a situation you don’t know how to handle, talk to someone that’s been there. One way to do this is by joining a support group. You can also talk to your friends or relatives. You don’t need to try to do everything on your own. Form a support system for yourself and use it. You won’t be much help to your loved one if you’re not able to take care of yourself.