Updated: Oct 6, 2022
You’ve been diagnosed with dementia and sent home to face your new reality. You were probably given very little information on your condition and how to take care of yourself. You may have been told to get your affairs in order as if you only have a few months left to live. This, unfortunately, is what happens to thousands of Americans diagnosed with dementia each year.
One of the first things you may want to do is call a family meeting and discuss what the diagnosis means and how you will handle it as a family. Dementia does change things, so it will be important to talk upfront about what this means for everyone. Dementia doesn’t just affect one person, it affects everyone close to that person. There will probably be a lot of questions and not many answers. Is someone in your family good at researching a topic or enjoy reading? Ask them to learn about your type of dementia and find the answers to everyone’s questions. When Someone You Know Has Dementia by June Andrews is an excellent book to start with.
You will also want to get some support for yourself and one of the best ways to do this is to find other people who also live with dementia. Yes, your family and friends may be supportive, but they may also be fearful and confused and have their own issues to deal with now that dementia is in the house. There are plenty of people who are living happy and productive lives after receiving a diagnosis of dementia and they will be glad to share their strategies with you. Dementia Alliance International is an organization exclusively for people who have a diagnosis of dementia. Members live all over the world and come together online to educate and support others living with the disease. They also provide support groups free of charge.
Although there is much debate in the research about how you can prevent cognitive decline or your symptoms from progressing, controlling certain lifestyle factors can only help you to feel better physically and mentally. Eating a healthy diet and incorporating regular physical activity are goals you may want to establish.
Staying active socially will also help promote health and wellness. As much as possible, continue to visit your friends, enjoy coffee dates, attend church, play sports, participate in clubs, volunteer in the community, and engage in any other activities that give you pleasure and satisfaction.
Life will change but it doesn’t have to end with a diagnosis of dementia. Focusing on ways to maintain your health will help you to feel in control. As your condition changes, be willing to be flexible and create new strategies for staying well and healthy. The Alzheimer’s Association is another organization that can provide you with support and local resources as well as information on research pertaining to medication and lifestyle factors.
Questions about caring for yourself–or for an elderly loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia? Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law may be able to help. Just give us a call at 615.824.2571.