Steps to Take After a New Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming, scary, and devastating. June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, during which the Alzheimer’s Association encourages all of us to learn about this disease, especially if we know someone who has it.
It’s crucial to remember that life doesn’t stop with the diagnosis. But it’s important for the person who received the diagnosis – along with their loved ones – to learn everything they can about Alzheimer’s. Knowledge will help the person living with Alzheimer’s better manage the disease and ensure they continue to enjoy a fulfilling life.
Read on to discuss essential steps to take after receiving a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for yourself or a loved one.
Learn everything you can about Alzheimer’s
Educating yourself about Alzheimer’s is the key to understanding disease progression, available treatment options, and coping methods. Speak with your physician and visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website to gain a comprehensive understanding of the disease. The website has news and many resources, including the ALZNavigator™, an interactive online tool for both patients and their loved ones.
Create a support network
Reaching out for support is crucial following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Start by confiding in family and friends, who can provide emotional support while you navigate this difficult diagnosis. People who love you can be there for you to listen, provide a shoulder to cry on, make you laugh, run errands, and do whatever else you need to help. Speaking with your faith leader or joining an Alzheimer’s support group can also help you manage a new diagnosis.
Embrace a healthy lifestyle
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can play a crucial role in delaying or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and improving cognitive function. Exercise regularly and follow a well-balanced, brain-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats.
Stay socially active and engage in mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles, reading, or learning new skills and hobbies to keep your mind sharp. Whether it’s traveling, a long-time hobby, or an activity, continue to do the things that you love.
And if you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist or support group.
Explore treatment options
Although there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments that can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. Make sure to seek treatment as soon as you have a diagnosis. Ask your doctor or specialist about Alzheimer’s clinical trials, studies, and treatments.
Plan for the future
Prepare for the future by updating your will and your healthcare and financial powers of attorney. This can be a family member, friend, or other representative whom you trust to make decisions for you when you can no longer make them yourself. Your power of attorney documents will spell out your wishes for them to follow. Research and visit memory care communities if you anticipate needing to move into one eventually.
Supporting a loved one after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis
Finding out a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is difficult. Not only are you worried about their health, but you’re also trying to navigate your feelings of grief and fear.
Remember to take care of yourself. If you get overwhelmed or depressed, see a therapist or meet with other caregivers. Find out what kind of respite caregiving services are available in your area so you can take a break away from your caregiving duties. Check with memory care communities and other senior care residences. You can’t help your loved one if you are depleted.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating diagnosis. But with the correct information, support, and planning, you can live a life with grace and dignity. We at LifeCare Advocates are here to help and support both client and caregiver through this process. Please contact us to learn how we can help.