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After Diagnosis
People with dementia can live active and fulfilling lives given the appropriate practical and emotional supports, being a carer can have many rewarding aspects.

The unknown is always daunting and receiving a diagnosis of dementia for yourself or a loved one may well cause you distress and fear. Living with dementia is challenging both for the individual involved and for those who care about them. However people with dementia can live active and fulfilling lives given the appropriate practical and emotional supports and being a carer can have many rewarding aspects.

Sean and Helen talk about being diagnosed

Acknowledgment: Videos are provided by The Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Telling friends and family

It can be very tempting to bury your head in the sand, carry on as if nothing has changed and try to ignore the challenges involved. Whether or not to tell people is a dilemma which doesn’t have a ‘correct’ answer. Deciding who to tell and when is the choice of the individual concerned. However sharing the diagnosis may bring relief and make socialising easier. Remember that it may help friends and family to be more understanding of forgetfulness or a change in behaviour.

Practical steps

After receiving a diagnosis it’s a good idea to take some practical steps to make life run more smoothly. As a first step, you or your family call the free helpline on 1800 341 341. Helpline Advisers and trained Helpline Volunteers are available to talk to you in confidence about causes of dementia, how a diagnosis is made, accessing services and supports, practical tips for living well day-to-day, legal and financial affairs and much more.

Here are a few suggestions for you and your close family to consider:

  • Organise your financial affairs. Consider paying bills by direct debit to make payments easier.
  • Talk to your solicitor about setting up an Enduring Power of Attorney.
  • Find out what community services exist in your area by talking to the local branch of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, your GP, Public Health Nurse or staff at a Memory Clinic.
  • Find out what type of assistive technologies are available which might make daily living a little easier. You can find out more about them from an occupational therapist or here.
  • Talk to health service professionals such as social workers or the public health nurse about where you may be able to access assistance such as Home Help (HSE/Private), Meals-on-Wheels, Carer’s Association. Even if you don’t need this assistance now, the knowledge will be helpful if you do need it at a later stage.

Stay active

Generally there is no reason why you can’t continue with your favourite hobbies – gardening, golf, tennis, swimming, walking the dog, or whatever you enjoy most. New experiences can help your brain, so consider taking up a new pastime like painting, gardening or singing. Eating well and taking regular exercise are also very important.

Support services

A good starting point to find out about local services and supports is your Local Health Office.

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland provides support and resources for individuals with all types of dementia and their families. You will find brochures to download on their website or they will post printed literature to you free of charge. If you would prefer to talk to someone, Freephone the helpline 1800 341 341.