Every year, approximately 10 million new cases of dementia are reported across the globe. There are many different types of dementia — over 400, in fact. Often, people are unaware of the various symptoms of the disease and how dementia can present itself following a diagnosis.
Public understanding is shifting, however, with help from some Hollywood headlines. A-list celebrity Chris Hemsworth publicly learned that he is genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in him taking a hiatus from Hollywood to spend time with his partner and his young family. And fellow A-lister Bruce Willis announced retirement from acting as he privately manages his frontotemporal dementia diagnosis — a rare type of the disease that usually presents earlier than other types of dementia — with support from his long-term partner.
Receiving a dementia diagnosis is devastating at any time. This is especially true for those who show symptoms and are diagnosed at an early age; symptoms showing before the age of 65 are considered early-onset or young-onset.
Navigating an early-onset diagnosis presents many social and professional challenges, one of which is your relationship with a loved one. Know that there are some coping tips and strategies that couples can deploy to ease the strain.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
It’s all too easy to shut down and withdraw from conversation when a major issue presents itself. Communicating your needs and talking about any changes are both vital pieces of information that need to be shared. Doing so allows you to support one another as best you can.
If you and your loved one are finding effective dialogue challenging, a professional therapist or counsellor who specializes in working with couples navigating life-altering issues like dementia might be able to help.
Connect with Professionals
Connecting with care professionals in the early stages of the diagnosis to learn about the different care package options that are available to you in your area will provide you and your loved one with comfort and a sense of ease.
Not all care looks the same. For example, home care companies like Integracare Home Care offer compassionate and flexible live-in and in-home dementia care packages, carefully tailored to meet their client’s individual needs. This means clients receive person-centred care, support and guidance throughout every stage of the diagnosis.
Securing professional help and knowing what your options are can take the pressure off, alleviating fears of the unknown. It also allows the person living with dementia to have a say in their future care.
In the early stages of a dementia diagnosis, it’s completely possible to maintain normal, everyday habits and to participate in hobbies and interests as usual.
Continue to participate in weekly meet-ups, sports get-togethers, and book clubs, for example, and try to find new activities that you can do together. Not only will social activity help to retain a positive mental attitude, but mental and physical activity has been shown to help sustain independent living.
The Bottom Line
A dementia diagnosis is undoubtedly distressing and life-changing. By working together as a united front, establishing a plan for care, and keeping lines of communication open, you’re setting yourself up to navigate early onset dementia as best you can, together.