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Learning of an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Learning that a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia can be overwhelming and telling the loved about it can be overwhelming.  The Alzheimer’s Association has some suggestions on how to go about telling the person who has received the diagnosis.

  1. Respect the person’s right to know
    • The person diagnosed is an adult and has the right to know the truth.
    • It may be a relief to hear the diagnosis, especially if the person wondered if something was wrong.
    • Learning of the diagnosis early offers opportunity to be involved in decisions about treatment and end of life care.
    • Although there is not currently a cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments and services that can help with quality of life for everyone involved.
  2. Plan how to tell the person
    • Talk with professionals – doctors, social workers and those who work with people who have Alzheimer’s to get an idea of how to approach talking about the diagnosis.
    • Having a “family conference”might be a good approach. He or she may not remember what was said, but may remember that people cared enough to come together.
    • Guide the discussion based on the person’s emotional state and medical conditions. If it is too overwhelming, offer a few details at time at different discussion sessions.
    • Pick a time a day that fits best with the person’s mood. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s are more receptive to new information at different times of the day.
  3. Help the person accept the diagnosis
    • If the person doesn’t seem to understand or denies it, accept their response and avoid further explanations.
    • If they respond well, offer additional information.
    • Reassure your loved one of your commitment to help and give support
    • Let the person talk about their feelings regarding this diagnosis.
    • Watch for non-verbal signs of sadness, anger or anxiety and respond with love and reassurance.
    • Encourage the person to join a support group for people with memory loss.

NL_3outof5The Alzheimer’s Association can help with finding a local support group or get more information about Alzheimer’s and other dementias call 1-800-272.3900 or go to  http://www.alz.org

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  We also run the Aspen Senior Center of Provo, a specially designed activity day program for seniors with dementia. We provide fun, engaging activities, music and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with dementia. Please visit our website or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!