When a loved one receives an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, it can be both unsettling and frightening. You might wonder how much this person will change and what lies in store for your family. Having the information, you need can give you sound footing and have lasting implications for your loved one’s quality of life, no matter the cause of symptoms.
You can’t figure it out in a day. But with advanced planning, you can explore your options and have the time to discuss care priorities with your loved one. As always, one step at a time works best.
An Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis: how to move forward.
Be present for your loved one. It’s easy to become so focused with the future that you forget what is happening right now. Remember that for your loved one, receiving an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be an emotional experience. Especially in the early stages of the disease, they need your support. Listen to their fears. Encourage them to express how they feel. Let them know you will work with them to take care of their needs, and reach out to a dementia support group or psychotherapist who specializes in aging issues.
Understand changes in behavior. An Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis isn’t just about memory loss. Behavior can change as well. A senior with dementia might feel angry, frustrated and scared, and this can cause them to lash out at you. Keep in mind these actions are not something your loved one can control. If they have always behaved abusively, it most likely will become worse, and you should not hesitate to seek outside assistance.
Help them seek treatment. Because receiving an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis might be shocking to a loved one, their first reaction could be to refuse any treatment. Keep in mind that dementia can undermine your loved one’s ability to make rational decisions, which can include seeking and accepting treatment. Your family can reassure your loved one that there are ways to delay or even improve symptoms and that research is continuously advancing the treatment of dementia. A trusted family physician can provide straightforward counsel and answer questions.
Work with them to plan their future. While it can feel awkward, discussing your loved one’s wishes for the phase of life after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can actually give them a sense of control. Updating or creating documents such as a will, trust, and power of attorney is important. But so is confirming who they want to make medical decisions for them and other questions about end-of-life care. Be sure to ask if there is anything they want you to know why they can still make choices.
Consider a memory care senior living community.
In the early phases of dementia, a wide range of options can support loved ones to remain as independent as possible, when they can no longer live alone. But as time goes on and the disease progresses, you may find it overwhelming to continue as a caregiver. Memory care could be the answer.
Memory care is specifically designed to nurture those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with 24-hour supervised care. Residents have the benefit of a private or companion apartment, meals and snacks, medication management, personal care, physical therapy, housekeeping and laundry services, and specially designed activities and events aimed at helping each individual have a sense of personal achievement and an enhanced quality of life.
The most common options are: a memory care neighborhood within an assisted living community or a stand-alone memory care community, which could be part of a large senior living campus with access to other types of care as well. As you consider your options after receiving the Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, remember that transitioning an older adult can allow your loved one to have a more active and fulfilling life. Because even with dementia, life can be rewarding!
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At Senior Star, we do everything we can to make a positive difference in the life of our residents. Download Just the Facts: A Guide to Memory Care. Questions about senior living? Contact us to learn more.