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Dementia expert webinar: recently diagnosed with dementia, with Nell Hawe

If you’ve just been diagnosed with dementia, there’s a lot to take in. You might need time to process your feelings about the diagnosis, or you might want to move straight on to planning what to do next.

Everyone reacts differently. There’s no wrong way to react. But these are some steps you can take when you’re ready.

Looking after yourself

After your diagnosis, you might feel shocked, angry, scared, sad, frustrated, embarrassed or even disbelief.

Some people don’t feel much at first. That’s a normal reaction too.

For some people who have been worried about their health, having a diagnosis can even make them feel relieved.

This is all normal and completely valid. Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling, no matter what it is. Trying to ignore your emotions often only makes them stronger.

Your feelings will change over time, as you learn about dementia and find ways to adjust. If you continue to feel sad, though, talk to your doctor, as this can be a sign of depression.

As you deal with your diagnosis, these are some things that may help:

  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend, or join a support group. Sharing your feelings and experiences can often help you to understand and deal with them.
  • Talk to a counsellor. Counselling can help you find ways to respond to how you’re feeling.
  • Keep a journal. Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help you process them.
  • Cry or laugh when you need to. Crying and laughing can be therapeutic, and they help to release feel-good chemicals in your body.
  • Plan activities. Catching up with a friend or doing things you like can create a sense of normality. You could also try activities that help you express your emotions, like music, art or dance.
  • Do the things you love. Keep doing the things that give your life meaning and joy. This could include religious activities, meditation, walking on the beach or spending time with your family.
  • Be kind to yourself. The changes you’re experiencing aren’t your fault. If it takes more time to remember or do things, take the time.

Support from Dementia Australia

You’re not alone. Dementia Australia is here to support you through your diagnosis and beyond. Here are our services for people like you who’ve just been diagnosed, and the people close to you.

As you look to the future, there’s a lot to think about. We can help guide you with information and advice from experts, people who live with dementia and their families, friends and carers.

Here are some places to start.

Families, friends and carers

A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed. If you’re close to someone who’s been diagnosed with dementia, your needs are important too. There’s a whole section of our website devoted to supporting you.

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Last updated
19 February 2024