When you learn that a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you may be torn between telling others and keeping it to yourself. Keeping it to yourself can be a large burden, but on the other hand, you may be wondering how others will react with the news. The following are suggestions on how to discuss the disease with your loved one, family, and friends.
Inform family and friends:
- You may feel relieved after discussing the disease with friends and family. Be honest and make sure to explain that Alzheimer’s is a medical condition and not a psychological or emotional disorder, or a contagious virus.
- After informing friends and family, be sure to offer information about the disease and its symptoms. You can direct them to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s toll-free hot line (866.AFA.8484), suggest they attend a support group, or give them educational materials.
- Explain to them how the responsibilities as a caregiver will affect your life and how your needs will change.
- As a caregiver, ask for and embrace family support. When someone asked what they can do to help, have something in mind. This could be doing the grocery shopping, assisting with medical appointments, or even just spending time with your loved one.
- Inform your neighbors of your loved ones condition so they can be ready to help in case of an emergency.
Talking to children and teenagers:
- Again, be open and educate them about symptoms and what to expect from their loved one with dementia. Make sure to answer their questions and calm any fears or misconceptions they may have.
- All explanations should be based on truth, but for younger kids, keep the explanation simple. Older teens may be able to understand more.
- Observe the child’s reaction and be aware of their feelings. A child may feel embarrassed if he/she lives with the loved one with dementia since their loved one may behave inappropriately.
- Determine age-appropriate caregiving tasks for children. Teenagers and young adults often feel valued if they are able to partake in responsibilities.