What are some tips for dealing with Alzheimer's diagnosis?

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Answered by: Jenn, An Expert in the Living With Alzheimer's Category
Accepting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be quite a challenge. It is important for family members and friends to be aware of the different things associated with dealing with Alzheimer's diagnosis. This disease will not only affect the diagnosed individual, but it will have an extreme effect on family and friends as well. Even though there may be dark clouds ahead and a very long and frustrating road, getting the diagnosis is an important step in managing Alzheimer’s. Family members may have a hard time dealing with this disease, but there are some things that will make it a little easier.

1.     Always keep in mind that you will experience a wide range of emotions. When a loved one is diagnosed, many feelings will be experienced. These include anger, frustration, sadness, guilt and even embarrassment. These are actually normal emotions for caregivers to experience and they will come and go. If your feelings start to get overwhelming and you have a hard time dealing with things, talk to a doctor. Make sure to inform the doctor of the recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis in the family.

2.     Take time to learn. Dealing with Alzheimer's diagnosis can be daunting, but reading and researching information on the disease is the best way to get an understanding of it. Local Alzheimer’s Centers can offer a lot of information as well as available resources and support services.

3.     Be sure to know that this disease will have an effect on the abilities of the individuals. Since the disease progresses, it will hard to know what to expect from one day to the next. Knowing about possible changes will help you prepare for them and allow for realistic expectations.

4.     Never lose sight. This disease will affect people in different ways; however, it is important to always treat Alzheimer’s patients with respect. Even though they may lose their abilities, they still have emotions.

5.     Look at new treatment options. Never settle for the statement that there is no cure. While the disease cannot be stopped or reversed, there are things that can be done to slow the progression. Keeping patients mentally stimulated and active will be very beneficial. There are also some medications that can be useful.

6.     Know that being a caregiver is not an easy task. People who are caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s have a lot of work ahead of them. Not only will they be responsible for the well being of the individual, but they will be watching this person decline on a daily basis. Being a caregiver is one of the most stressful and emotional positions any person can hold.

7.     Do not be afraid to look for help. Having a large support group as a caregiver is a great way to cope with the stressful situations that will be faced. It is okay to ask family members and friends for help in caring for the senior.

8.     Support networks are essential. This is a way for caregivers to share their thoughts and feelings. A support network can be made up of any group of people, including friends, family members, existing support groups, members of a church or any other group. It is important for caregivers to have an outlet where they can openly discuss how they are feeling at any given time.

9.     Make plans for the future. Being a caregiver is a long term commitment. Some people may be forced to leave their jobs to care for a family member. It is important to realize that many sacrifices will be made along the way and caregivers must be prepared for this.

10.     The Alzheimer’s Society can offer a lot of help. This society can provide important information about caregiving and coping with the disease. It also offers ongoing support and can help caregivers locate various services in the community.

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