In life, there are going to be challenges. No one ever said it was going to be easy. However, some things seem to be more than we can handle. For example, when someone you care about, a parent, spouse, brother or sister, etc., has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you worry about their future and are determined to do whatever you can to help.
Communication is one of the most important components early on.
What happens far too often when people are faced with tragic circumstances is they shut down, withdraw, and try to ‘deal with it’ on their own. This refers to an emotional response rather than trying to solve some problems that are beyond the scope of their ability.
When people shut down, when they try to cope with their emotions on their own, in their own time, and without any outside support, it often makes the journey more difficult. At the same time, we have to remember to be respectful of every person we care about. Not everyone is going to deal with tragic circumstances the same way. The grieving process will vary from one person to the next.
However, communication is still crucial.
Just because a person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has been shutting down emotionally, that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to listen or engage in conversations with others. Just because the spouse, adult child, or even best friend is having difficulty coping with this new reality, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t engage in conversations.
What needs to be communicated early on?
First and foremost, the person who is struggling to deal with this diagnosis needs to understand he or she is not alone. By staying in contact with them, by calling and checking in on them, even leaving messages that may go unreturned, it simply lays the foundation (plants the seed) for them to know they aren’t going through this alone.
Second, expectations for what will happen in the months and years ahead need to be laid out honestly. This individual needs to know that the earlier they start taking proactive steps (i.e. considering proper care in the form of home care support services), the more beneficial it will be for them in the future.
It’s easy to see this elderly person managing their own basic care with only some reminders every once in a while, but it won’t stay that way. Things will change. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet and by communicating early and often, it helps to lay a solid foundation for future support.