Receiving a dementia diagnosis is devastating, both to the person diagnosed and to those around them. Any negative health diagnosis can leave a person wondering what to do next.
Surgery or chemotherapy is often the next step for a person diagnosed with cancer. Taking action toward a healthier lifestyle is common for people diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. But what are the actionable steps for someone with dementia?
The emotional component
It would be impossible not to be emotional following a dementia diagnosis. Going through the five stages of grief is part of the process for many people.
Denial is the first stage of grief. Denying the diagnosis is dangerous, but also common. Getting past denial is crucial, but how?
- Become educated about the disease. Knowledge really is power. The more you know, the better you’ll be prepared for the future. There’s still life following a diagnosis. Facing it is the best way to move forward.
- Acceptance is essential to receiving treatment that could slow the disease’s progression. Spending a long time in denial eats away time, which is a benefit. Medication to slow progression should begin as quickly as possible following diagnosis.
- Create a plan of action. The Alzheimer’s Association can help you face the future. Use the Alzheimer’s Navigator. Essential information is available regarding legal and financial planning, how to navigate daily life, and more. Simply add your zip code for detailed information available in your area.
- Speak to a trusted friend or family member. Building a support team will prove beneficial.
Unfortunately, some people don’t get past denial or a symptom that’s similar to the first stage of grief.
Dementia and other illnesses that affect the brain’s frontal lobe may cause a lack of awareness and, therefore, acceptance of the diagnosis and the disease. This condition is called anosognosia, and it is different from denial.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “this inaccurate insight feels as real and convincing as other people’s ability to perceive themselves.” In other words, a person experiencing anosognosia believes just as deeply that they don’t have the disease as the doctor knows that they do. Anosognosia is more than denial. A person with anosognosia isn’t convinced, even when significant evidence to the contrary is presented.
Other stages of grief accompany diagnosis
Fear, depression, resentment, and a sense of loss are all stages of grief, just like denial. Each stage is a natural reaction and is understandable, given the unwelcome health diagnosis. However, it is imperative to seek professional help if you aren’t moving through the stages. If depression lingers, for example, seek professional help.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.
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