16 February 2018
Life after diagnosis: How to stay positive when a loved one has dementia
Living with dementia can have a big effect on a person and their family; especially when a loved one is first diagnosed. However, it’s crucial that you stay positive, and help your loved one to see past their diagnosis.
Living with dementia doesn’t have to be the nightmare that many perceive it to be. Plenty of people who live with dementia say that being able to discuss it with friends and family helps them to cope with the initial shock, can help them to come to terms with their diagnosis and helps them continue to live a fulfilled life.
So, how can you provide a supportive and positive environment if you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia?
Getting to know the condition can help you and your loved one to understand what is happening, and what to expect as the disease progresses. Take the time to read up on it from reliable sources such as:
Be aware that your loved one may not have access to the internet and the resources that you do, so it could be a nice touch to print out any useful factsheets or web pages for them to read in their own time.
All of our homes also host regular informative sessions about dementia called ‘Dementia Friends.’ These educational sessions are free to attend, last approximately 40 minutes and are taught in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society. Please check the news section of our website to see a list of our upcoming sessions or alternatively click here to contact your nearest Hallmark care home to register your interest.
Whatever you are going through, remember that your loved one is going through a whole tranche of emotions themselves. They may feel angry that this has happened to them, scared that they are not in control, or could even feel relieved that at last they know what’s been happening to them. They could be in denial, could sink into a depression or could even feel resentful towards you or other people they are close to.
To support your loved one, allow them to express their emotions in a healthy way. If they need to cry, pass them a tissue, and if they need to shout, listen patiently. Encourage them to write down thoughts and feelings, and to share their emotions with you and others close to them.
Keep in mind that there are many things that can be done to ensure your loved one continues to live an active and fulfilled life. Work closely with healthcare professionals to understand what’s happening to them, and engage with sources of support so that you don’t feel alone, such as:
- Admiral nurses: For professional support and a free helpline
- Talking Point: The forum of the Alzheimer’s Society
- Carers UK forum and Carers Trust forum
- Alzheimer’s Research UK for answers to your questions
- Dementia Connect: Run by the Alzheimer’s Society to help you find local groups and services
You may also find it useful to talk to your community nurse and local authority to find out what help is available locally, such as memory clinics, support groups, occupational therapists and counsellors.
Our homes; Maycroft Manor, Lakeview and Anya Court also run monthly dementia support cafés, where you can meet individuals in a similar situation to yourself, seek advice and support over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Don’t change how you treat them
Remember that despite the diagnosis, your loved one hasn’t changed. They may need to adapt aspects of their lives to help them cope, but they are still the same person you know and love dearly. Get support for them, and for you, and you’ll be able to continue to have a meaningful relationship and help your loved one to continue to enjoy their life.
Click here to find your nearest Hallmark care home.