Alzheimer's / Dementia

6/14/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

While a diagnosis of dementia can be devastating, telling your loved ones can be equally challenging. After you struggle with your emotions – shock, disbelief, anger, and fear – you need to deal with how to share your dementia diagnosis with your loved ones. Who should you tell? How do you tell them? How do you prepare for their reaction to the news?

People sometimes hesitate to discuss their diagnosis with others simply because talking about it makes it real, and that reality is quite frightening. But sharing the news is an essential first step in incorporating this life-altering disease into your future. And once you have completed it, you will likely experience a sense of relief. 

Discussing memory impairments such as dementia is not taboo like it once was. In fact, researchers have found that talking about it with those who care about you results in stronger relationships that make the memory loss journey easier for everyone. 

Here is what you should know after you receive the news.

Who do you tell? 

Who you tell is merely a matter of preference: you may tell everyone you know or just your family and closest friends. Keep in mind that this is your news, and you only need to share it as you see fit. You may feel comfortable telling a few people right away and sharing the news with a broader group later. Or you might decide to limit who you tell, choosing only those you know will be there to support you throughout this potentially difficult journey. 

First, determine who must know about your diagnosis immediately: more than likely your spouse, children, and closest friends. Then, decide who else, if anyone, you wish to inform.  

How do you share your dementia diagnosis? 

Whomever you have decided to tell will play a big part in determining how you will share the news. For instance, some people prefer to call a family meeting to let all their children know of their condition. Others would rather do it one-on-one with a spouse or close friend. Maybe you want to communicate your diagnosis as soon as you receive it, or perhaps you need time to digest and work through the diagnosis yourself before sharing it. 

Whatever method you decide on, give some thought to what you want to say. You can jot down a few talking points to help you keep your thoughts organized. Try to anticipate the concerns and questions that others may have and address them upfront. 

How Do I Know If They’re Early Signs of Dementia?

Dealing with the reactions of others 

Your family and friends will probably have reactions similar to yours when you share your dementia diagnosis. Their emotions will run the gamut from fear to anger to disbelief, all of which are normal. Just like you, they will need some time to process the unsettling news. Allow them to do that in their own way, and be prepared to answer their questions and deal with their concerns. 

Staying connected 

While delivering the news of your diagnosis is an essential part of the communication, it is merely the start. Along the way, you will be providing updates, and everyone involved will need to deal with your emotional, physical, and behavioral changes. Keeping the lines of communication open will allow your loved ones to know how to support you as your journey evolves. 

Letting everyone know what you can still do and how you feel lets them know how they can best support you. Staying connected to those who care about you provides you with the interactions that give you comfort during the times when you need it most. It also benefits those who love you because they want to hear from you, get updates on how you’re doing, and find out how they can help. 

Even though you might be going through a challenging period, it’s important to keep communicating. This is a trying time for you, but it will be less so with the support of those who love you. Your condition may have changed, but you are the same person. And there are still plenty of opportunities remaining to create memories with those you love. 

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff