Written by Active Minds on Friday the 17th of February 2017.
Discovering you have dementia is a difficult diagnosis, and the prospect of telling your loved ones of your illness can be incredibly daunting. However, opening up to the people around you can help you come to terms with your diagnosis, allowing people to help you, support you and share your dementia journey with you.
Before you tell your friends and family, it may be a good idea to speak to your doctor. Ask them as much information as you can about your type of dementia and what you can expect in the future. Not only will it help you understand your diagnosis, but your loved ones are bound to ask these types of questions as well, so it’s good to be prepared. Ask your doctor for their advice on how you should inform the people around you of your recent diagnosis, they may be able to give you tips on how to deal with the situation.
Find A Quiet Place
When you do decide to tell your friends and family make sure you find a quiet and calm space and if possible have someone with you. Those you are telling, will have lots of questions which you may find overwhelming if you are on your own. They can also provide support to them if your loved ones/friends become distressed hearing about your diagnosis and need someone to talk to.
Instinctively, when we have to impart bad news, we want to rush through the conversation. But be calm and slow as you tell your loved one, you don’t need to tell them all the information in one go if they are struggling to hear the news. Allow them time to digest your diagnosis and to ask questions. It may also be helpful to collect information (leaflets, books etc) prior to the chat, so you are able to help them understand the disease and how they can help support you.
Be prepared for different reactions. Some people will want to help you immediately whilst others may initially experience denial and not want to discuss your dementia any further. These are completely normal reactions, and they just need time to understand your diagnosis.
Initially, you may want to refuse any help, but allow people to look after you. Not only will this make you feel loved and supported, an important tool for your dementia journey, but it also helps your loved ones feel useful and needed.