Helping Your Loved Ones Understand Your Parent's Journey with Alzheimer's Disease
June 15, 2016
Home Care in Saratoga CAFinding out that your aging loved one has Alzheimer's disease can be an upsetting and frightening moment. As soon as you find out, you know that you are at the beginning of a journey that will involve your parent progressing through a variety of challenging symptoms that will impact their functioning as well as your care efforts. While you will need to make many decisions and handle many hurdles when this journey begins, one of the most challenging that you will face is telling your friends and family about the diagnosis. Helping your loved ones understand your parent's journey with Alzheimer's disease is important for your parent as well as those loved ones and you. When they are struggling to understand what your parent is going through those friends and family members may feel confused, disconnected, ignored, frightened, or even resentful. You may feel that you are alone or that you do not have the support that you need to get through the progression of the disease. Your parent might feel as though they are hiding or that they are not being properly understood and acknowledged. Helping your friends and family members understand this disease can make sure that this process is as stress-free and comfortable for your parent and for you as possible. Use these tips to help your loved ones understand your parent's journey with Alzheimer's disease:
- Consider timing carefully. When you decide to tell people about your parent's diagnosis is a very important decision. You are not just letting people know about a medical condition. You are informing them of major changes that will be coming to your parent's life as they progress through the disease. It is important to remember, however, that these changes can occur very gradually and even though your parent might receive a diagnosis it could be months before their symptoms become severe enough for friends and family to notice. Your parent might not want to discuss their condition early in the progress and telling others at this early stage could impact their interaction with your parent. In the same vein, you do not want to wait too long as this could leave people feeling as though they have been lied to or ignored. Talk to your parent and get their input about when you should discuss it with others.
- Be casual. This is already a potentially frightening and upsetting conversation that you are going to have with friends and family. Avoid making it more uncomfortable by being too formal or stern. Instead, approach the situation casually without being dismissive. Let people know what is going on and present the information as a cooperative conversation rather than as you making an announcement. This will encourage questions and also put your loved ones at ease.
- Be honest. Even though you are taking a casual approach to the discussion, make sure that you are honest with your friends and family. Give them all of the information that they might need, including the stage of the disease, the prognosis, your parent's symptoms, and the care that you have planned for them. Tell them about your parent's home care provider, what they do together, and if you need any help caring for them. Be straightforward and open so that everyone feels informed and at ease.