What's Next After a Diagnosis of Alzheimer's?
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can leave a senior and their family reeling. While it isn’t usually unexpected, having official confirmation is nonetheless difficult.
After you take time to process the news, creating a proactive care plan may help you and your older loved one feel more in control of the future. From education to exploring memory care, here’s some helpful information.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Most seniors and their adult children have a vague idea about what Alzheimer’s disease is. Memory loss and wandering are two symptoms many people are familiar with. But what causes the disease? How quickly will it progress? Is a senior with Alzheimer’s safe to live alone? These are a few questions family members often have.
Our first suggestion is to take time to learn more about the disease. You’ll find sites like Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, and Family Caregiver Alliance have helpful information.
If you prefer to read and learn offline, a few highly regarded books include:
- The 36-Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace, MA, and Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH
- The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems by P. Murali Doraiswamy, Lisa P. Gwyther, and Tina Adler
- Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical tips and soul-saving wisdom for caregivers by Paula Spencer Scott
Learning more about the disease process, symptoms common at each stage, and what to expect can help you better prepare for the future.
Legal Issues for Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease
As you look toward the future, your family will have many decisions to make. From choosing a medical team you trust to helping your senior loved one find healthy ways to express their sadness and fears, it’s important to plan while your loved one is still able to express their hopes and desires.
Documenting your loved one’s wishes is important from a legal perspective, too. Because every state has different laws, you’ll want to partner with an experienced elder care attorney. They can help you prepare a living will, power of attorney, or any other documents your state requires to allow loved ones to act on a senior’s behalf.
Other Steps to Take After a Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
A few other steps to consider and discuss include:
Adopting a healthy lifestyle:
A growing number of researchers believe a healthy lifestyle might help slow the progression of the disease. As a caregiver, eating well and exercising can allow you to protect your own health and better manage stress.
Joining a support group:
Some family caregivers find it helpful to join an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group. Even if you have a strong circle of family and friends, having fellow caregivers to connect with can be beneficial. They can empathize with your situation and offer tips for coping. Many busy Alzheimer’s caregivers find online support groups to be a good fit when time is short.
Deciding how to share the news:
This is an important issue to discuss with your loved one. How do they want to tell people about their diagnosis, and who do they want to deliver the news? Some seniors might want to share their diagnosis themselves, while others might find it easier for adult children and spouses to do it. Just be sure you allow the senior to have a voice in sharing their news.
Memory Care Programs
If a senior you love has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, you might want to consider the support and security of a memory care community. One of our experienced senior care advisors can help you explore local options. Call 800-304-8061 to talk with an advisor for free!
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