3 Steps to Follow after Diagnosing Dementia
Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be frightening. Becoming informed will ease feelings of anxiety and help individuals feel empowered. Alzheimer’s disease is life-changing, but there are simple ways to feel empowered and informed moving forward.
This article will briefly discuss dementia as a diagnosis and empower you with a list of tasks to accomplish when you are asking, “where do I go from here?”
Coping with Emotions After a Dementia Diagnosis
A diagnosis of dementia is often accompanied by a range of emotions. You might feel a sense of anger, sorrow, or relief. Let’s walk through a common list of emotions after receiving a diagnosis and how to cope.
A common range of emotions you are likely to feel after a dementia diagnosis are as follows:
- Denial: The information you receive might overwhelm you and lead you to denial. It’s ok to seek out a second opinion by a doctor if you are having a hard time coming to terms with your diagnosis.
- Relief: A dementia diagnosis might help you make sense of your previous emotions and behavior. Having answers can feel empowering and give you a sense of direction moving forward.
- Fear: Dementia and memory loss can feel frightening. You might fear the future and struggle to trust yourself and others.
- Anger: Overwhelming feelings of anger might accompany your diagnosis. You might feel a sense of injustice and loss of control.
- Sorrow: You might feel that no one understands your situation and turn to isolation in times of sorrow. There are many changes when receiving a dementia diagnosis which may lead you to feel grief for what you feel is lost.
However you feel after receiving a dementia diagnosis, it is important to acknowledge your emotions and receive the proper support. Use this list of ideas to help you create an emotional care plan:
- Journal your emotions post-diagnosis. Journaling has been proven to help individuals release stress and gain a new perspective on their situation.
- After receiving a diagnosis, speak to close friends and family about your emotional state. Let them know how they can support you (i.e., daily check-ins over the phone or in person, accompanying you to appointments, or providing distractions through other activities).
- Join a support group with others who have received a dementia diagnosis. Many support groups meet online via Zoom with options for in-person group support. Click here for a list of services in the United States. Click here for a list of services in the United Kingdom.
- Continue to participate in the activities you enjoy. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis might make you feel isolated or like you can’t engage in your favorite pastimes. Unless stated by your doctor, it is important to keep engaged and connected to your life.
Inform Yourself About Your Diagnosis
A dementia diagnosis is drenched in stigma and preconceived ideas about those living with Alzheimer’s disease. Becoming informed about dementia can help you feel empowered while considering the proper care needed for your unique case.
According to the CDC, stigmatization of memory loss disorders often leads those who suspect they have dementia to delay receiving medical care. Stigma can also inhibit caregivers and family members from accepting the diagnosis of a family member or friend.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends fighting dementia stigma by:
- Speaking openly about your diagnosis.
- Sharing accurate information about your disease.
- Receiving support from community groups or friends and family.
- Change your perspective on your diagnosis by viewing it as an educational opportunity.
- Participate in research trials and advocate for more support and research.
Plan for Your Future
While considering your future after a memory-loss diagnosis can seem scary, the more prepared you are, the more secure you will feel moving forward. There are many care options for those living with dementia. Here are a few things to consider when planning for the future:
- Consider legal, financial, and medical planning. Resources are available through the Alzheimer Association’s website.
- Consult a lawyer to update or establish your will and living will.
- Consider long-term care and financing options. There are many care options, including customized dementia home care services and assisted living.
- Inform yourself about your insurance coverage for medications and ongoing medical care.
- Take note of transportation services and other programs to serve those who live with dementia.
A dementia diagnosis can be wrought with overwhelm and fear, but strategic planning and medical care will ease feelings of anxiety and empower individuals to live the life that they desire post-diagnosis. Review the summary of this article and note the options that resonate with you today:
- Receive emotional support after a memory-loss diagnosis
- Stay engaged in your life and activities you enjoy
- Remove stigma around your diagnosis by speaking openly about it with those in your community.
- Consult a lawyer to establish a will.
- Create a long-term care plan by researching services offered in your area, including transportation, housing, and healthcare.
A dementia diagnosis is life-changing, but it is not life-ruining. Always remember you are not alone.
Kevin Yancul is a writer who covers topics related to science, health, and education. In addition, he enjoys photography as a leisure activity and as part of his writing inspiration.