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Confronting Dementia

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Confronting a loved one about dementia can be a daunting task. While increasing awareness of dementia symptoms has led to earlier diagnoses, many individuals and families fall into a state of denial. As a result, the disease is left to fester until it has progressed significantly. If you're concerned that a loved one may have dementia, don't wait. Addressing dementia may be a sore point for your loved one, but it's the best thing you can do for their well-being. Consider approaching the topic with these tips in mind.

Response  

The idea of receiving a dementia diagnosis can trigger a powerful response. Often, the possibility of having dementia can cause extreme anxiety. Defense mechanisms such as minimization of impairments, avoidance of discussing the problem, or vagueness and circumstantiality when forced to do so are a common way of coping. At times it can be overwhelmingly frustrating when your faced with a negative or nonexistent reaction, but it’s worth tackling the issues to be able to see a loved one have a better quality of life.

Although a defensive reaction is a natural and common response, many have the opposite reaction to being confronted about dementia. A study done by West J. Med found that most of the participants with dementia declared they would like to know what was wrong with them or wished to get more information. Additionally, participants in this group engaged with doctors on ways to improve their current situation.

Communication Strategies

So why not take a proactive approach and start the appropriate dialog? Here are some ways to let them know your concerns:

  • Plan

    • Finding the optimal time to have the conversation is a crucial component for making the discussion a success. You want to be able to find a time that works with everyone's schedule, this way you can properly focus on the conversation. Something to keep in mind when confronting dementia is that an approach that works for someone else might not work for you. Each plan needs to be customized to meet the needs of the individual.
  • Set a Goal

    • When you start to prepare for this type of conversation, it's important to set goals. Deciding what your goals should be based what outcome you're hoping to achieve. For example, are you trying to bring awareness to your loved one, are you trying to push them to seek medical advice, or is it time to discuss assistance and care needs?
  • Express Concern and Reassurance

    • Fear is a familiar emotion when facing a dementia diagnosis. One of the most important things we can do when talking to a loved is making sure they know your mission is to help and make sure they are okay.
  • Body Language

    • Being aware of your body language can make a massive difference in conversations success. One's body language affects the overall atmosphere during your conversation. For example, crossing your arms or raising one's eyebrow can be confrontational. Instead try opening your arms, softening your voice, and making eye contact.
  • Do Your Research

    • If you suspect that a loved one may have a memory loss condition, do your research. Be aware of the symptom by becoming familiar with what they look like and how they manifest. If you need additional information, there are many resources on the internet, library, and dementia helplines. However, visiting their general practitioner or another medical professional who works with them for help is the best option.

Understanding how to connect and communicate with our loved ones can be challenging, especially if they are suffering from a memory loss impairment. As a bystander’s, you might have conflicting feelings whether it’s your place to bring up it up, even if they are loved one. However, proactively addressing a debilitating illness such as dementia early on is better than addressing it when it’s too late.

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