Written by Active Minds on Friday the 3rd of May 2019.
Getting told you have dementia can be difficult to come to terms with, but having a support system is highly beneficial moving forward. It is therefore important to be open and honest with the people closest to you so you can get the support you need to continue living well. Whilst there is no right or wrong way to react to the news you have dementia, there is also no set way to tell your loved ones the news. Here we have highlighted just some of the ways to introduce the conversation with your loved ones.
There are many benefits to making your loved ones aware that you are living with dementia, including the ways they may be able to support you as you move along your journey. Letting people know early on can be greatly beneficial as they begin to understand some of the changes they may be seeing, and are able to offer the necessary support.
As the number of people living with dementia has risen, awareness has increased, meaning that your loved ones will be more understanding and have access to support themselves should they need it. Telling loved ones earlier in your journey means you have additional time to make plans for the future. Remember you can let people know how you need them, and if you need time and space to process, that is also ok.
There is no specific timescale which dictates when you should share the news with others; when you choose to tell people is personal decision. For some, having time to process and accept the news for yourself first is important. For others, the immediate support and reassurance from your closest family and friends will help you along your dementia journey.
Deciding how to tell people can a daunting part of the process, but there are a few things you can keep in mind to help it be a positive experience. You may only want to tell those closest to you, especially at first. If this is the case, begin with those you are most comfortable with and those who need to know.
Take the time to find somewhere quiet and relaxed to have the conversation with friends and family, and explain the situation in a calm manner and try to be as informative as possible. Take your time and be prepared to answer their questions; you can ask your doctor for advice on what and how to tell people. Do remember that you don’t have to be an expert straight away, and this is also a learning journey for you.
Expect different reactions; it may be harder for some people to accept and that is ok. Allowing people to take the time to process and understand the situation can be beneficial in the beginning. Others may be keen to help as much as they can, be sure to let them know you appreciate this and will ask for help as and when you need it.
There is no right or wrong way to tell people that you are living with dementia, the most important thing is that you’re comfortable doing so. By being as open and honest as possible as this gives people the best opportunity to help. Let them know how you’re feeling and the support you might need, if you want help you should ask for it and if you need some time, ask for that too.