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Coping with a Senior Parent’s Dementia Diagnosis

a person hugs a parent with dementia diagnosis

Learning that your senior parent has been diagnosed with dementia is life-changing for them and your entire family. You, your parent, and other family members will likely experience various emotions, including shock, denial, anger, grief, and fear. Coming to terms with a dementia diagnosis takes time. Learning all you can about dementia can help everyone know what to expect, cope with the diagnosis, and empower your family to make the best decisions about your parent’s care moving forward.

Buckner Villas is a senior living community in Austin, TX, providing senior memory care for individuals with all levels of dementia. Our experienced staff provides high-quality, personalized, compassionate care for all residents in a safe, secure, and beautiful setting. Our memory care program, The Harbor, provides a comfortable, home-like environment with an extensive array of amenities. Call 844.960.5295 to learn more about the benefits of senior memory care at Buckner Villas.

The Impacts of Learning a Loved One Has Dementia

Dementia has a significant impact not only on the diagnosed person but also on those closest to them. When a senior parent is diagnosed with dementia, children and other family members have to take on new and different roles and responsibilities, including that of caregiver. As dementia progresses, these roles and responsibilities change and may become more challenging.

Among family members, especially those acting as caregivers, grief and loss, guilt, and anger are the most commonly reported feelings when learning a loved one has dementia. Following is a closer look at each:

  • Grief and loss – Grief is a response to a loss. Everyone experiences grief differently and for different lengths of time. The loss associated with dementia is related to losing the person you’ve always known, knowing they will lose their memories of you, and losing your relationship.
  • Guilt – Family members of individuals with dementia feel guilt for a range of reasons, including being embarrassed about their loved one’s odd behaviors, losing their temper under stress, not wanting the responsibility of being a caregiver, not having the ability to be a caregiver, and having to have a loved one go into memory care.
  • Anger – Many people experience anger that their loved one has dementia, over having to be a caregiver, with their loved one’s behavior, at family members for not helping enough, or because of a lack of adequate support services.

Distress, exhaustion, fear, annoyance, anxiety, and depression are other common feelings many people experience upon learning a loved one has dementia.

Tips for Coping After a Dementia Diagnosis

One of the most important things you can do to cope with a dementia diagnosis is to tend to your physical, emotional, and psychological needs. If your well-being is compromised, you will not be in a good position to help your loved one or adequately manage all that needs to be done.

Consider these tips for coping after a dementia diagnosis:

  • Ask for help – Reach out to community resources and sit down with family members to determine what each person can contribute in terms of time and other assistance.
  • Acknowledge your emotions – Pay attention to how you feel so that you can manage your feelings in healthy ways. It is often a good idea to reach out to a therapist or support group.
  • Educate yourself about dementia – Learning about dementia prepares you for what to expect and helps you plan for your loved one’s future needs.
  • Don’t lose sight of your loved one – Though your loved one will change, they still have the same emotions, feelings, and needs. Remember to see your loved one, not their symptoms.
  • Plan for the future – Especially in the early stages of dementia, your loved one will have the ability to give input about their wishes for care. Ensure all paperwork is in order, including legal documents and estate planning.

While you may be able to care for your loved one in the early stages of dementia, they will eventually need around-the-clock care. Now is the time to research memory care programs.

Contact Buckner Villas to Learn About Memory Care for Your Loved One

At Buckner Villas, we understand the challenges of coping with a senior parent’s dementia diagnosis and are here to help. Contact us at 844.960.5295 to learn more about our memory care program, The Harbor, and schedule a tour.