Alzheimer’s can have a devastating impact on your relationships as the disease directly interferes with your everyday life. The time which follows diagnosis can prove to be particularly difficult for the individual as he/she starts coming to terms with the disease and its impact on his/ her life. If you or your loved one is facing a similar situation, here are some things you should expect to encounter along the way:
The relationship changes start right from the time you are diagnosed with the disease. However, continue to remind yourself you still are and will continue to be the same person after the diagnosis. You may come across a range of reactions from others around you while some will be unsure how to respond and react. There will be some who you are reluctant and hesitant about talking to you. The positive thing is you will also come across people who will stand by you and support you in your time of need.
Dealing With the Initial Reactions
You may feel a little hurt to see certain family members and friends whom you always expected to be there for you in your difficult times are not offering you the kind of support you need. What can make you feel better about their reaction and their choice to distance themselves from you is that their reaction has stemmed from fears regarding their own future. Just because they are not offering you support does not mean that they will continue to act this way in the future. Perhaps once they have had time to come to terms with your diagnosis and dealt with their emotions and fears, they will come to you.
Participation in Social Activities after the Diagnosis
You may experience that social interaction and participation, which was once a source of joy for you, has become challenging and can even be a little uncomfortable. You might experience mixed emotions, including frustration, anxiety and a sense of loss. These emotions are natural following the changes in your life and cognitive health. These changes may entail not having enough energy to participate in social events which you previously enjoyed, difficulty following or staying focused during conversations. For many individuals, these changes in relationships and socialization can lead to withdrawal.
Social Changes Following Diagnosis
Since Alzheimer’s interferes with your abilities to carry out daily activities of life, relationships and social life, it may also bring about changes in not only your role but also your responsibilities in your family life and social circle. This may lead to you experiencing varied emotions and feelings, the most common of which are:
No or Limited Input in Decisions
Many individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s experience that they are rarely, if ever, consulted when it comes to making a major decision. Even if the decision is regarding the patient, there is a chance he/she might not be involved in the discussion.
Loss of Independence
Loss of independence can also be a painful part of adjusting to Alzheimer’s. Others might feel you can no longer take decisions about your life. Losing your job and your role as the breadwinner may also follow which can be difficult to adjust to as well.
Increased dependency on others is the natural outcome of not being able to lead an independent life because of your condition.
Feeling of Burdening Others
You might feel you are moving from being independent to dependent and even being a source of burden to others around you.
These reactions and changes are likely to follow an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. More than the patient, the caregivers need to understand and know about these to ensure they can provide the support the patient needs when adjusting to life with the condition.