The Positive Side of a Dementia Diagnosis

Can a life-changing disease diagnosis, like early dementia, have a positive effect on a patient? Turns out the answer may be ‘yes.’

The Positive Side of a Dementia Diagnosis
Hani Jajeh

Researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging conducted a study on patients who had been recently diagnosed with early dementia or a mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The researchers’ overall assumption was that a diagnosis of this nature would have a uniformly negative impact on a patient’s outlook on life, but this turned out not to be the case. In fact, almost half of the participants had a positive shift in attitude once they’d received their diagnosis.

To measure the impact of the diagnosis, the researchers used something called The Silver Lining Questionnaire. Forty-eight men and women with early dementia or mild cognitive impairment were asked a string of questions about their quality of life and personal outlook post-diagnosis. The questions covered everything from changes in life philosophy to improvements in personal relationships, growth and inner strength.

The results were surprising. Some of the more positive results of this potentially devastating diagnosis were appreciation and acceptance of life, less concern about failure, strengthened relationships, and new opportunities to meet people.

This isn’t to say that being diagnosed with a life-changing illness is good news for anyone. But it does show that human beings tend to see the glass half full, rather than half empty, even in the face of a devastating diagnosis.

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