How to Talk with a Loved One about Dementia

Watching parents and loved ones grow older isn’t always easy. Signs of dementia can make it even more challenging. You may wonder whether these signs and symptoms are something you should even mention to your loved ones. At Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we understand this struggle. It’s a conversation that may seem overwhelming, but it likely means an earlier diagnosis and a smoother transition into major life changes.

Signs & Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can also be characteristic of age-related changes. But if you’re noticing changes to your loved one’s memory, thinking, and social abilities, it’s worth investigating. These changes can include:

    • Memory loss that’s disrupting daily life
    • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
    • Difficulty planning or solving problems
    • Confusing time and place
    • Misplacing things and getting lost
    • Changes in judgement and decision making
    • Difficulty speaking and writing

If you notice these or other symptoms, it’s best to speak with a doctor. A proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can mean access to treatment plans, plus the opportunity to begin making financial and legal plans for your loved one.

Speaking to a Loved One about Dementia Symptoms

Feeling at a loss for words is common when it comes to speaking to a loved one about dementia symptoms. No one wants to negatively affect a relationship or upset someone they love. But it’s a conversation worth having as early as possible. Before you do, consider who might be the best person for the job. Is there a particular family member to whom your loved one is exceptionally close? You should also be prepared for your loved one to act defensively or be unwilling to discuss the changes you’ve noticed. He or she may not be able to see these changes or symptoms in themselves, either. It’s also common for them to feel confused, or to deny or withdraw. Here are four tips for this difficult conversation:

    • Be direct and specific: Tell your loved one that you’ve noticed changes in their behavior that you wanted to discuss. Share examples of those changes, and ask if they’ve noticed them as well.
    • Be supportive:  Acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation and that these can be scary changes for your loved one. Let them know you’re here for them and willing to help however you can.
    • Be prepared: Tell your loved one that you’d like to schedule a doctor’s appointment for a definitive answer.
    • Don’t wait: The sooner you can have this conversation, the better.

The Takeaway

There is no easy way to broach a conversation about dementia symptoms with a loved one. But recognizing the importance of this kind of discussion can help. Once you know definitively whether a loved one truly has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you’re in a position to start planning. In Minnesota, Syncare Memory Suites can help.