With approximately 5.8 million people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s or dementia, hundreds of individuals and families are impacted each day following a new diagnosis. September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and it is a good time to consider what it means when a senior loved one receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and what to do in the days and weeks that follow.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be hard on both the individual and the family as well. However, there are steps to take directly after the diagnosis that can help families plan for the future. Use the following tips to find information, support, and guidance.
Learn about Alzheimer’s. Being informed will help you better understand what to expect as the disease progresses. Ask your doctor for information about Alzheimer’s and what to expect following a diagnosis. Use online resources like the Alzheimer’s Association to learn as much as you can about the disease.
Schedule regular doctor’s appointments. Regular visits with your doctor can help keep track of symptoms and allow for early treatments. Ask the senior’s physician if a memory clinic or specialist is recommended as well.
Ensure affairs are in order. While it may feel overwhelming, now is the time to make sure that documents such as advance directives, power of attorney, wills, etc. are in place. This ensures that the person with Alzheimer’s can have input before cognitive issues prevent it.
Create a safe space at home. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, safety at home will become paramount. You may have already noticed symptoms in your loved one that indicate what will need to be done to make the home safer. For example, if the older adult has begun walking with a shuffling gait, removing area rugs, cords, or clutter from the floor can help avoid tripping.
Create and keep to a routine. For people with Alzheimer’s, routine is a comfort. Because long-term memory is preserved until later stages of the illness, reinforcing day-to-day activities can be calming and help avoid challenging behaviors.
Stay active. No matter a person’s age or condition, exercise is always good for your health. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can potentially make a person want to stay in and hide, but being active is good for the brain and body. Something as simple as taking a daily walk around the neighborhood with the older adult is a great way to keep moving.
Get help with daily needs. As Alzheimer’s progresses, care needs will change. A person in the early stages of the disease may be mostly cognizant of their condition and need very little help. However, in the middle stage of the disease, the person’s memory may deteriorate rapidly, which means they will require much more assistance with day-to-day care. The person may need help bathing and dressing themselves. They will likely no longer be able to drive, and transportation to and from doctors’ appointments and other outings will be required.
Visiting Care Giving Services’ Chesterfield caregiving experts offer professional Alzheimer’s and dementia care services designed to help older adults with dementia maintain independence while getting the care they need in the comfort of home. We offer a wide range of services, including:
We also offer respite care services to help ensure that family caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s get the rest they need. If you would like to learn more about our Chesterfield caregiving services and in-home care throughout the surrounding areas, contact us at (636) 493-9058 and we will be happy to provide you with more information. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities where we offer care.