Visiting Angels, Punta Gorda Blog

Next Steps - When A Loved One Receives An Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Whether it’s your spouse, your aging parents, a sibling, or close friend or relative, hearing the words “early stage dementia” and “presenting as Alzheimer’s” is devastating. Questions quickly fill one’s mind. What happens now? What will the future look like? Will this be the last holiday season that my loved one truly remembers?  Do we need to look into nursing homes or memory care centers? Can we even afford long-term care? Will it happen to me?

Loved One's Alzheimer's Diagnosis

 

If you or your aging loved one has recently received an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, know that you are not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 5.7 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s. Every 65 seconds, another person in the U.S. develops the disease. There currently is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which leaves many feeling hopeless when they hear the diagnosis. As devastating as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be, here are a few next steps to take as you face a difficult journey ahead.

Keep Calm

When you first hear the words, “Alzheimer’s” and “dementia,” your mind might race to the worst possible scenario. Although there currently isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s, know that it is a progressive disease. While each person’s journey is different, the average life expectancy after diagnosis is eight to ten years, according to the Mayo Clinic. There’s no need to make any immediate decisions regarding long-term care. Instead, take the journey one day at a time, knowing that there will be good days mixed in with the difficult days.

Plan Ahead

Although there’s no need to make any immediate decisions regarding long-term care, you should make a tentative plan as to what the future may look like. Research care options, from home care agencies to memory care communities. Should the time come when your loved one needs more help, you won’t be caught off guard with no place to start. Other next steps to take include selecting a power of attorney and updating your loved one’s living will, before they can no longer soundly make those important decisions. It’s also a good idea to talk with your loved one about their end-of-life wishes.

Continue Medical Care

Just because there currently isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease does not mean that your loved one should stop receiving medical care. Schedule regular appointments with your primary care

physician or a specialist, such as a neuropsychiatrist, neurologist, or geriatric practitioner. Talk with your doctor about medications that slow the progression of the disease. Consider participating in a clinical trial. Seek additional support from a memory care clinic. Know that there are numerous resources available when it comes to receiving medical care.

Give Yourself Permission to Grieve

It’s okay to be upset, disappointed, and sad when you hear the news that your loved one has Alzheimer’s. It’s necessary to grieve a future that you didn’t plan for. There will be difficult days ahead. Your loved one may be agitated for no apparent reason or, as the disease progresses, have days where they don’t remember you. Give yourself permission to grieve, instead of bottling up your emotions. You may event want to find a support group specific to Alzheimer’s to help you cope.

Continue to Make Memories

Lastly, continue to make memories with your loved one. Learn to live in the moment and the art of reminiscence. Browse through old family photographs and put together a memory album. Include your loved one in as many family get-togethers as they desire. Embrace the good days by laughing with your loved one, taking them on day trips, and making lasting memories for yourself.

Visiting Angels Punta Gorda is here to provide you and your loved one with experienced support and Alzheimer’s care services. We are well versed in dementia care services and offer ongoing dementia education for our caregiving team. Whether you have received a recent dementia diagnosis or are simply looking for more assistance in your day-to-day routine, we can provide you with the services that you need. Our care plans are customized to meet your needs and fit your schedule. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation.

And don’t forget to schedule your free memory screening through the Alzheimer’s Foundation, Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. The screening is free; however, we do require an appointment. To schedule your appointment, please call us at 941-347-8288.

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