When a family member starts showing signs of dementia, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening.
It’s a conversation that brings up intense emotions and means admitting to painful truths. However, it’s also absolutely essential for ensuring that your loved one gets the best possible care and can maintain their quality of life for longer. It’s also essential for helping the rest of the family learn how to cope.
Start Conversations Early
Suppose you start to notice signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, such as disruptive memory loss, changes in mood and personality, and confusion. In that case, Alzheimers.net recommends having a conversation about it as soon as possible. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will need some kind of care plan, and for this to be as effective as possible, it’s best to involve the patient themselves in the planning. This is best done when cognitive function is at its highest.
By starting to have the conversation early, you also allow yourself time for the conversation not to go as planned. It’s highly likely that your loved one will respond emotionally when the subject is first broached and even deny the truth of the situation to themselves. You need to allow time for the new information to sink in and to consult with medical professionals.
It’s essential to approach the conversation carefully. Plan out some tactful ways to broach the subject, and think about who in the family is best placed to start the conversation.
The most important thing is that your loved one knows that you are there for them. Offer to go with them to appointments and be sure to be available to them in the days following diagnosis for emotional support.
It’s vital that caring responsibility is shared so that nobody becomes too overwhelmed, and everyone can continue to take care of their own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of your loved one.
Take the time to make a list of all the things that need to be done and be critical about whether you can reasonably take the responsibility on as a family.
If you don’t have the capacity to take on caring responsibilities yourself, Premier Senior communities can help you find the right option for your family. If residential care is looking like a good option, be sure to involve your loved one in all of the discussions around this to help them find the best fit.
It’s tempting to pretend to be OK when you aren’t in these situations. Everyone knows that this is a hard situation, and you don’t want to add to anyone’s worries by talking about how you feel.
The truth is, you can’t effectively be there for someone else if you aren’t processing your own feelings. And your family members will most likely be grateful to hear how you are feeling because they are probably feeling the same way! Realizing your loved one needs long term care can be scary, but it’s better to talk about it then hide your feelings.
Be open about feeling overwhelmed, stressed, sad, and anxious but do it mindfully when you deal with dementia. Be sure to check in with how everyone else is feeling, too.