Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be devastating to you and your loved ones. Many details need to be considered to ensure that you and those around you are as prepared as possible for dealing with a condition that's unpredictable and continually changing.

Care and support for the person with the disease

Throughout the disease, you may experience a wide range of feelings. Here are some suggestions you can try to help yourself cope:

  • Learn as much as you can about memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Write about your feelings about having dementia in a journal.
  • Join a local support group.
  • Get individual or family counseling.
  • Talk to a member of your church or another person who can help you with your spiritual needs.
  • Stay active and involved, volunteer, exercise, and participate in activities for people with memory loss.
  • Maintain contact and spend time with friends and family.
  • Participate in an online community of people who are having similar experiences.
  • Find new ways to express yourself, such as through painting, singing or writing.
  • Delegate help with decision making to someone you trust.
  • Be patient with yourself.

Helping someone with dementia

You can help a person cope with the disease by listening, reassuring the person that he or she still can enjoy life, being supportive and positive, and doing your best to help the person retain dignity and self-respect.

Caregiver support

Providing care for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding. Often the primary caregiver is a spouse or other family member. Feelings of anger and guilt, frustration and discouragement, worry, grief, and social isolation are common. If you're a caregiver for someone with dementia:

  • Ask friends or other family members for help when you need it
  • Take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Learn as much about the disease as you can
  • Ask questions of doctors, social workers and others involved in the care of your loved one
  • Join a support group
  • Find out about supportive services in your community, such as respite care or adult day care, which can provide you with a break from caregiving at scheduled times during the week
Apr. 16, 2013