As a memory care provider, we understand the challenging family dynamics surrounding a diagnosis of dementia. While each situation is unique, a common concern raised is when family members aren’t all on board with the diagnosis. In many cases they are struggling to accept that the relationship they’ve had with mom or dad will be changing dramatically and they are fearful of the road ahead.
The Alzheimer’s Association has put together an excellent list of tips to help families like yours resolve some of the family conflicts arising after a loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve summarized them below:
- Listen to each other. Each family member may process the diagnosis differently. Perhaps you are more able to cope with it, but others may not be. Avoid blaming and attacking each other. Be prepared to deal with some denial as well. Above all let each family member be heard. You can also encourage your siblings to tap into the many available resources so that they can learn firsthand more about the disease.
- Discuss your roles. A good way to start is by making a list of all the things that need to be done to help your loved one in the days and weeks to come. Note how much time (and money) each requires. Review the strengths of your family members and divide the tasks accordingly. For instance, some family members are better at caregiving, others may be the organizers and so on.
- Keep communication open. The best way to do this is to set a schedule for regular family meetings or calls. Keep to the schedule, as it’s important to stay in touch. These meetings are a good time to re-evaluate not only mom’s/dad’s condition but the kind of support you have in place and any changes that might be necessary.
- Pull together to cope with changes and loss. As your loved one’s condition progresses there will be emotional challenges for each family member. Try not to isolate yourself or allow other family members to become isolated. This is the time to work through your feelings as a family.
- Know when to reach out for more help. Often some of the best therapy can be found outside the family circle. Support groups are an excellent way to meet with others in similar situations. A trusted therapist or counselor can also be of help. The Alzheimer’s Association has a hotline that operates 24/7 and is staffed with experienced counselors who are available to help.
At some point in your journey you may also want to consider transitioning mom or dad into a memory care community, one built expressly to support individuals living with dementia. We welcome you to contact one of our communities near you and share your concerns and needs with us. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you better understand the memory care environment, services and options available to you.