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The First Steps: A Guide for Those Recently Diagnosed with Dementia

A photo of a couple comforting each otherReceiving a dementia diagnosis can be a life-altering moment, marking the beginning of a unique journey filled with challenges and uncertainties. If you have been recently diagnosed with dementia, (or know someone who has), it’s essential to approach this new chapter with resilience, and an understanding that everyone’s journey is different. Below, we explore key considerations for individuals facing dementia, focusing on fostering understanding, embracing support, and prioritizing well-being.

1. Learn about your Diagnosis

The initial shock of a dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming, leading to a myriad of emotions such as fear, confusion, and even denial. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the diagnosis as a starting point for understanding your condition. Take the time to educate yourself about dementia and how it may progress over time. Seek information from reliable sources, consult with medical professionals, and engage in open conversations with your healthcare team to gain a comprehensive understanding of your situation.

2. Embrace Support Systems

Dementia is a journey that doesn’t need to be traveled alone. Embracing a support system can make a significant difference in navigating the challenges ahead. Share your diagnosis with trusted friends and family members who can offer emotional support, companionship, and practical assistance when needed. Consider joining support groups where you can connect with others facing similar experiences, share insights, and learn coping strategies. Circle of Care offers a couples group for couples where one person is the caregiver and the other has mild dementia. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

3. Plan for the Future

As you come to terms with your diagnosis, it’s important to proactively plan for the future. This includes legal and financial considerations, such as creating a power of attorney and organizing your affairs to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. Discuss your wishes regarding care, living arrangements, and end-of-life decisions with your loved ones to provide clarity and peace of mind for everyone involved. These conversations can be draining and difficult, but ultimately your loved ones will appreciate understanding your wishes as your illness progresses. If you need assistance or support through this time, we offer client and family counselling.

4. Prioritize Well-being

Maintaining physical and mental well-being becomes increasingly important when living with dementia. Establish a routine that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep to support overall health. Engage in activities that bring joy and stimulate cognitive function, such as hobbies, puzzles, or social interactions. Prioritize self-care, and be aware of your emotional well-being, seeking professional help if necessary.

5. Adapt to Changes

Dementia may bring about various changes in your life, and adapting to these changes requires flexibility and resilience. Embrace assistive technologies, home modifications, and adaptive strategies that can enhance your daily life and maintain a sense of independence for as long as possible. Keep communication open with your support network to address evolving needs and make adjustments accordingly. Our Adult Day Program can offer support through this journey, and provide an environment where you can connect with others who are also experiencing mild to moderate dementia, as well as their families.

While a dementia diagnosis undoubtedly presents challenges, it is not the end of your story. Approach this journey with resilience, a commitment to understanding, and a willingness to embrace the support systems available to you. By planning for the future, prioritizing well-being, and adapting to changes, you can navigate the path ahead with a sense of purpose and dignity, fostering a life that remains rich and meaningful despite the challenges of dementia.