You and your loved one with dementia may not yet have informed the world (or even the rest of your immediate family) of a diagnosis, but please don't keep this information entirely between yourselves.
Here are four reasons it's good to talk with others about a diagnosis:
1. Everybody needs an emotional outlet -- and no one more so than the person or persons caring for someone with dementia. You'll need empathetic ears and sounding boards to help you vent some of the inevitable stress coming your way. Think of it as a mental health tool, not a betrayal, to confide in at least one person.
2. You destigmatize it for you and your loved one. Dementia is no different from any other medical condition. Remember how people were once afraid to talk about cancer? You help normalize a common condition by talking frankly about it.
3. By sharing you can get great, free help as well as support. There's also a world of sympathetic strangers who've been there already; you can find them online at sites such as Caring.com's forums.
4. There's a safety element. The time may come when your loved one forgets where he or she is going, even wandering away and getting lost. Or he or she may do something unusual: leave a store without paying or forget an important engagement. The more others know about the reality of the situation, the more people there will be who can watch out for trouble -- and help you with various needs down the road.