Support for People with Dementia
Getting a diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can bring up difficult emotions, which can be hard to talk about. Your loved ones may be dealing with their own thoughts and feelings to what the diagnosis might mean to them and to you, and they may not be fully able to be neutral and supportive listeners as you process your reactions.
You may want to put thoughts about your diagnosis out of your mind, but sometimes, it can be useful to process deal with your thoughts and feelings more directly.
I have extensive experience working in both cognitive testing and health psychology, so I understand the symptoms and prognosis, but also am comfortable discussing the impact of the diagnosis on thoughts and feelings.
In some ways, our work will be just like any other course of therapy. We talk about whatever is on your mind--family, health, finances, relationships, etc. In some ways, of course, it's different.
We might talk about the feelings that are arising-fear about the future, anger about the unfairness of the diagnosis, guilt about the potential impact on loved ones. We might also talk about possible plans for the future--do you want to age in place, or do you want to consider moving to a facility? Do you things you want to do or say? Are there tasks that you are finding increasingly difficult (or might find difficult in the future), such as driving or bookkeeping, that you might want to make alternate arrangements for now?
I also work with family members who are coping with a loved one's diagnosis. The impact of having a family member with dementia or MCI can be significant, and caregiver burnout is a common problem. We often lean on our loved ones for support when times get hard, so it can be difficult when each partner is being impacted by the cognitive symptoms. Often, even as you support your loved one, you may benefit from having a therapist to talk to about your own feelings and thoughts--fears, frustrations, sadness, irritations, whatever may arise.
If you have further questions about your unique situation, or how I might work with you or your loved one, please don't hesitate to reach out--I'm happy to discuss particular situations wherever it's useful.