How to Cope after Receiving a Diagnosis of Dementia

A woman sits next to her husband on a park bench

Having to face an uncertain future where life’s most precious memories are no longer accessible is something many of us can’t even imagine. Yet, this is a diagnosis that millions of people around the world face every year.

You will undoubtedly face a range of emotions after receiving your diagnosis and you may not know where to turn for help. One of the first things you should do is sit down with your family to discuss the situation and to plan ahead for the upcoming changes. This includes establishing some guidelines for care, determining alternate living possibilities, and meeting potential financial obligations that the future may bring.

Here are some tips to help ensure that the person with the diagnosis and their family members have their needs and wishes are met as the disease progresses:

Learn as much as you can about the disease

Educate yourself on symptoms and what changes you might expect. Knowing what challenges may lie ahead makes it easier to plan for and deal with them. Talk to your doctor about possible treatment options and what your specific prognosis is. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter and ask them for information and resources for assistance.

Appoint a Power of Attorney/Health Care Proxy

Because there will likely come a time when the person can no longer make decisions for him/herself, it’s important to find someone trustworthy to make both medical (Health Care Proxy) and financial decisions (Power of Attorney) on the person’s behalf when that time comes. Consult with an elder law attorney to best understand your options, what’s involved and to complete the formal documents that will make it all legal.

Develop a plan of care

If the spouse is still alive and healthy, it’s likely he/she will become the primary caregiver. But caregiving is a highly demanding role and requires the assistance of more than one person. Create a plan of who is available and when to assist with caregiving duties. If no family members are available, start researching for at home health companies who can help provide relief. LifeSource Home Health may be able to provide services that can keep the person living in their home, in a familiar setting, surrounded by loved ones.

Create a routine

As the disease progresses, anything new and strange may appear threatening to someone with memory loss. People with dementia tend to thrive on familiarity. It helps ground them and make sense out of what may be becoming a more confusing world. When someone with memory loss recognizes something – like their favorite breakfast food, a favorite knickknack, or the morning paper – the more they understand the world. LifeSource is an excellent resource for creating an environment where your loved one will feel safe and comfortable.