Supporting Someone with Early Stage Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Monday the 3rd of February 2020.

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Knowing how to support a someone once they find out they are living with dementia can be difficult. Their reaction could be varied; denial, anger, frustration, acceptance is all possible and it can all depend on the situation. It is important to respond appropriately and remember that each person’s dementia journey is different; there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach.

Offering support is key, but as is how you do it; its often as much about what you don’t do as much as what you do. It is important to remember that finding out a person has dementia doesn’t mean that person cannot live well and independently for the foreseeable future.

Offering Support

For the person who has found out they are living with dementia, it may be difficult to talk about at first, but it is important for their wellbeing that they do seek support. All you can do in the beginning is let them know you’re there for them should they want to talk. Ideally, you will want to discuss things such as emotions, ways to stay active and healthy, finances and support available but this will come in time. It is important to remember that living with dementia is a journey.

If the person with dementia is reluctant to talk to family and friends, it can be helpful to encourage them to talk to others experiencing the same things; look for dementia support groups in your area which could help them express their feelings or seek professional help from a councillor or GP. In the following weeks and months; you can offer support by helping them gather information about the dementia journey and help them to tell others as this can often be difficult and something, they may be reluctant to do.

Creating a Plan

Planning and routine are essential along the dementia journey and will become even more important as it progresses. Whilst your loved one is still able it is important that they sit down and talk through their options; this includes things such as finalising their will, getting their finances in order and making sure people can access important documents should they need them. This is also a good time to consider implementing lasting power of attorney. Whilst these are things which you and they may not want to face immediately; they are necessary and in the long run will help the person living with dementia enjoy their life without the extra worry.

Make sure they make their wishes about care known for when they progress on their dementia journey and can no longer live independently. A person living with dementia can make prior arrangements about their care and make their wishes known for things such as medical treatments and procedures. They must inform the DVLA of their dementia diagnosis, but this does not mean they have to stop driving instantly; the DVLA will contact their GP. Their GP will give advice of when it is time to stop driving and you will need to recontact the DVLA to advise them of this.

Being Understanding

The best way, you can offer support to a person on their dementia journey is to be understanding. Understanding of their wishes and emotions as well as their actions as their journey progresses. It is important to take each day as it comes and focus on the good; as there is still a great deal of it.

It can be a difficult time for someone to find out they are in the early stages of dementia; causing anxiety and worry about the future. It is important that their family, friends and loved ones are doing all they can to support them as best they can. If you feel the person may need more help, there are a range of dementia charities and support groups as well as medical advice which can assist with the adjustment.