According to the World Health Organization, 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, with 10 million new diagnoses each year. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a number of different diseases that ultimately affect cognitive functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, making up 60-80% of all dementia cases. According to the National Institute on Aging, those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often experience loss of short-term memory, inability to make sound judgements, difficulty with communication, understanding and expressing thoughts. As dementia progresses, its symptoms often interfere with a person’s daily life and activities. A dementia diagnosis can have a profound impact on the person diagnosed, their family members and caregivers. It’s not uncommon for a dementia diagnosis to bring about feelings of guilt, loss and grief both for the person receiving the diagnosis and their loved ones.
After a dementia diagnosis, it’s common to think about how dementia will affect your loved one and the losses that accompany the disease. Family and friends may also think about the future and what it looks like now that dementia is in the picture. As the disease progresses, you may start to wonder how it will affect your loved one’s physical and mental abilities, relationships and plans for the future. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, this type of thinking, or thinking ahead to things that may happen in the future, is called anticipatory grief. Grief is a normal part of a dementia diagnosis and can come and go or stay for a period of time. Sometimes you may feel like you’re coping well and other times you may feel depressed or withdrawn. Grief can often look like sadness, but it can also present itself in different forms and emotions. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, common feelings include denial, anger, guilt and acceptance and look like the following:
Your loved one might experience a wide variety of emotions after their diagnosis. They may feel relief after receiving an answer for their symptoms, but they might also develop feelings of grief and loss as their condition progresses. This can be a difficult time for your loved one, but there are also small things you can do to show your support, according to the Alzheimer’s Association:
Just as a dementia diagnosis is difficult for those who receive it, it’s also challenging for family members and friends. Here are a few ways to cope with the grief and guilt that often accompany a loved one’s diagnosis:
At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how difficult it can be to receive a dementia diagnosis, both for the one receiving it as well as their family and friends. Our communities offer dementia support groups as well as activities specifically designed for those with dementia. Make your dementia journey easier with Maplewood Senior Living. Contact us to schedule a tour today.
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