Feelings and emotions

Now that you have been diagnosed with dementia, as with any other medical diagnosis, you may experience a whole range of emotions. It will take time to adjust to the diagnosis. These feelings may change as the dementia progresses. None of this is unusual. You are coping with something new and your brain is not quite the same as it was. No-one can tell you how that change will affect you. You should continue with your usual routine as closely as possible, including getting out and meeting people. This can offer reassurance and provide memory prompts. Some people find that keeping and following a diary helps with day-to-day tasks and routines, and keeping appointments. If you feel that some of your interests or hobbies are now too demanding, you may need to make some adjustments or alternatively, concentrate on other interests that you enjoy. You will find that there are still a lot of activities that can give you satisfaction and enable you to meet new challenges.

You and your GP

Although there is no cure for dementia - and it’s also a progressive condition - you should still visit your GP if you notice changes. You may have other conditions so the changes you have noticed may not be as a result of dementia, it’s essential that you get them checked out. In some cases, your feelings and emotions may be a sign of depression, which can be treated. Before any visit to a GP or health professional, write down questions you want answered - it’s sometimes difficult to remember everything at the appointment. If you don’t understand anything, ask them to explain and, if necessary, write things down for you. You could also ask a carer or friend to go with you.

Talking to other people

It’s important to talk to someone about how you feel, you don’t have to travel your journey alone. This could be your wife, husband or partner, a relative or friend, someone else with dementia, or it could be a professional, such as your GP. This will make you feel less alone and they will also be able to reassure that what you are experiencing is normal. Talking about things can also make them less frightening and will help you work out ways of coping. OK, it’s frustrating that you forget what day it is, but you can always ring someone up and ask them. Or, if going to the shops makes you anxious, arrange to go with a friend. Often a burst of physical exercise can help lift your mood; even something as simple as a walk around the block. It’s important to recognise that your family and friends can provide a fantastic source of support. You might feel embarrassed about asking for help, and explaining why you need it. So try thinking of how you would react if they were the ones asking you for your help. You’d probably be only too happy to help them. Remember, too, that people often prefer it if you tell them exactly what sort of support would help you, rather than them having to guess. Also, remember that if you genuinely need help and support, then you have a right to it. There is plenty of professional support you can access, from help with personal care and meals, to aids around the house and financial support.

As a family member or a friend of someone with dementia, it is also important to talk to people, there are many carer support groups around and carers centres to support you. Your local carers centres are available to support you and can provide you with information of local support groups. Talking to other people who also have a relative or friend with dementia can help, realising you’re not alone, but also sharing tips and support can you help you along the journey.

Link up with other people with dementia

An excellent way to feel better about your new life with dementia is to talk with other people who have dementia. You’ll find people who have experienced - and are experiencing - exactly the same problems, irritations, anxieties and strange feelings. You’ll be able to swap tips and advice - and funny stories - as well as realise you are not alone. You’ll also see that they are managing to live fulfilled lives. Check out Age UK (www.ageuk.org.uk) in your area, your library and other specialist organisations, such as the Alzheimer’s Society (www.alzheimers.org.uk). Wellbeing Cafés and social events for people with dementia are often free and are a great way to meet other people in similar situations.