Tips for Having the Talk With a Parent About Dementia Symptoms

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If your loved one is exhibiting dementia symptoms, it is crucial to have the talk with him or her as soon as possible. Here are six tips for talking with someone you love about dementia:

  1. Acknowledge the conversation may not go as planned.

You know you have good intentions, but your loved one may not be open or willing to discuss the changes you have noticed. They may be angry or defensive. Don’t force the conversation. Take a break and plan to revisit the conversation later. If your loved one still refuses help, contact a medical professional.

  1. Have the conversation as early as possible.

When you see the signs, it’s important to say something early before more symptoms occur. It’s best to have this conversation when cognitive functioning is at its highest.

  1. Offer your support.

This can be scary for your loved one and seeing a doctor to discuss the changes can feel overwhelming. Let your loved one know that you are there for them and can accompany them on doctor visits. Show your support throughout the diagnosis and the days and months that follow.

  1. Plan specific ways to start the conversation.

 Use these conversation starters:

I’ve been thinking through my own long-term care plans lately and I was wondering if you have any advanced planning tips for me?

I was wondering if you’ve noticed the same changes in your behavior that

I’ve noticed?

Would you want to know if I noticed any concerning changes in your behavior?

  1. Realize gaps in self-awareness.

Someone experiencing the signs of early dementia may not see the symptoms in themselves. Be prepared that your loved one may show signs of confusion, denial and withdrawal.

  1. Think through who should have the conversation.

Is there a certain family member or close friend who can positively influ-ence your loved one? Consider asking that person to be with you or have the conversation privately.

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