Over 5.7 million Americans are living with dementia today. Unfortunately, even with such a staggering number of people coping with the diagnosis, a stigma still exists and it can be very difficult to share such a devastating diagnosis with co-workers, family members and friends.
So, how do you know when it’s time? Read these tips on how to announce a diagnosis.
How to Find Dementia Support
Dr. Sujatha Hamilton is the chair of medical ethics and director of palliative care at New York University. She urges people recently diagnosed to share their diagnosis with family and friends. “They have fears and worries and so do their caregivers. This is devastating news, but they seldom seem surprised. They put their heads down. They will say, ‘I knew it,’” she says.
Getting the news out early will help coworkers, family, friends and medical professionals to form a strong support network and enable the person diagnosed to make important financial and legal decisions early before the disease has progressed and those decisions become impossible to make.
Dr. Hamilton notes, “Many people find great support in letting others know. A child or spouse can create a supportive, warm environment to keep their loved one feeling comfortable and protected while the information is shared.”
6 Tips to Announce a Diagnosis
Leah Challberg is a senior program manager at the Alzheimer’s Association. She encourages people to think about the setting they want to tell people whether that be private or as a group.
She says, “There’s a perception that once you have this label, it’s a death sentence, but it’s really not. People with the disease can do a whole lot for a long period of time.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers suggestions for how to tell others about a diagnosis, which includes:
- Discussing the future and how family and friends can help.
- Finding a private and quiet place to be alone.
- Having educational brochures and information about the disease readily available.
- Letting your family know you are still the person they have always loved and you can still have a meaningful relationship.
- Taking your time in sharing the news.
- Writing down important things and thoughts you want to say before the meeting
No matter how you, your parent or senior loved one decide to share a dementia diagnosis, the news can still be confusing and upsetting.
Give those around time to cope with a diagnosis and focus on developing a care network that can be trusted and relied upon as the disease progresses.
How did you know when to announce a diagnosis of dementia? What other suggestions do you have for others going through the process now? We’d like to hear your tips in the comments below.