What to do if a family member is diagnosed with dementia

It is common for the person who is living with dementia to deny or not admit

that they are having problems and also that they are experiencing issues with

their memory and with other day to day living aspects of their lives.

​While this denial is normal it can cause problems for their family and for their

future health. A continued denial could mean delays in starting up medication

and continuing doing things that they are no longer able to do as it may not be

safe now such as driving, being on their own and cooking. Also a person living

with dementia will most likely be unable to recognise or want to see a decline

in their own health or changes in their behaviour and personality.

Offering help to someone with Memory Problems

Some ideas that a close family member could do, to help the person experiencing problems would be to visit their GP and to take a memory test. This can take some persuasion but is recommended to do in the early stages.

​It is also likely that denial reflects that the person is feeling afraid and may need some time to accept what is happening.

Some ideas for the family members to consider are :

  • Be kind and patient during your conversations and listen to their fears and their anxiety about what is happening.

  • Broach the topic very gently and don’t necessarily mention the word dementia, perhaps keep to words like memory issues.

  • You will have to let them know how worried you are about things and their future, and giving examples of what kind of issues are arising may help matters to sink in, for example forgetting names of people they will have known for years, missing appointments and losing items in their homes.

  • Also it may be helpful for you to keep a diary with documented evidence for the person with dementia and also their GP as this will support you as they may deny there is anything wrong to the doctor

  • You could also turn the focus towards getting support for the family rather that making it solely about them when going to a GP.

Keep in mind a continual denial may delay receiving an official diagnosis.

You must give the person some space and time to think about their diagnosis

approach the situation delicately and with patience and kindness.

Also it is a good idea to contact local support groups in your area and your GP

will have a list of these available.

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