Coping with dementia

Johan De Schepper

Referentiepersoon dementie
Staff member
Web site of the case study
Table of contents
  1. Coping with dementia
  1. solidarity
CoP 2 Coping with dementia

Hearing the diagnosis of dementia is confronting for the person involved. Many feelings are released at that moment. These range from feelings of sadness, disbelief, powerlessness, anger, ... and sometimes also a sense of relief, confirmation (I finally know what's wrong).

The diagnosis is usually made after symptoms have been present for some time (up to years). On average, this takes even longer for people under the age of 65.

After the diagnosis of dementia is communicated, a processing period begins for the person concerned to give it a place and to learn to deal with (present) symptoms. This is called 'coping'. Coping is derived from the English term 'to cope with' which literally means 'to be able to deal with or to cope with'[1].

How the person involved accepts this and how he deals with the consequences is an individual process. People are looking for a sense of control and balance[2]. The person with dementia, with the help of the environment, looks for ways to adapt. This adaptation to and coping with the consequences of dementia are, according to R.M. Dröes processes in which the person with dementia is active and where the environment can offer support and guidance[3]. T. Kitwood specifically points to the impact (both positive and negative) that the environment can have on people with dementia. R.M. Droës distinguishes 7 adaptive tasks for the person with dementia:

Practical adaptation to limitations

1. Dealing with your own disability

2. Develop an adequate care relationship with healthcare providers

Emotional Adjustment

3. Maintaining an Emotional Balance

4. Maintain a positive self-image

5. Preparing for an Uncertain Future

Social Adjustment

6. Developing and Maintaining Social Relationships

7. Handling Day Care, Nursing Home Environment and Treatment Procedures

In any case, it is a constant adjustment for the person with dementia as for the environment to changing internal and external circumstances. Psychosocial support can help people with dementia to cope with the consequences of their situation.

How can we, as adult educators, support carers and people with dementia in accepting and learning to cope with dementia? What experiences do you have in this regard?

[1] Mentaal : copingstijlen
[2] Memory problems in dementia: adaptation and coping strategies and psychosocial treatments