Four Steps to Take After Being Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease
Sep 16, 2016
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a lot to deal with in itself. In fact, it’s difficult to know where to even begin once you’ve received this kind of life-altering news, and that’s okay. Here are a few tips on steps to take after your Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Ask your doctor any and all questions you might have. Your first question might even be, “Why?” Understanding exactly what led your physician to your diagnosis can be an important part of accepting it. Find out how far along your Alzheimer’s is, and what to expect both in the near future and as your disease progresses. If you come up with questions later, keep in mind that the Alzheimer’s Association offers a 24/7 helpline that can give you information, consultations and referrals.
Try to stay positive. Though it may be difficult to find a silver lining, try to view your diagnosis as an answer. Symptoms like memory loss, difficulty speaking, or social withdrawal are probably what led you to seek a doctor in the first place. While no one would hope for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, at least you now have an explanation for your changed behavior. Now that you know what the problem is, you can address how to overcome it.
Use this same positivity when it comes to treatment and life changes. If your doctor prescribes medication, buy a daily pill organizer and make it your Saturday evening routine to set it up with a spouse or loved one. Set daily alarms as reminders to take them, and look at them not as a constant chore, but a positive step in treating your condition. Assist your spouse in any house adjustments that need to be made, whether it’s creating lists of emergency numbers to post by the phone(s), checking rooms for adequate lighting, or installing security locks on doors and windows. Making yourself a part of the process is not only proactive, it helps you assert control over your condition.
In your own time, let your loved ones know about your diagnosis and create your support system. This is another difficult step for many, but it’s important to give your friends and family the chance to adjust and learn how to best support you. Answer their questions as much as you can, and if you come across one you don’t know, do the research together.
Let your loved ones lend a helping hand even from the beginning. Discuss any potential living adjustments to be made, including whether a service dog might be right for you. This kind of companion can not only make daily tasks a little easier, but serves as a constant supporter to literally be by your side at all times. This can be especially important post-diagnosis as you learn to cope with the idea of such a big life change.
Create a positive daily routine. Include light exercise, like a daily swim or walk, to keep you active. Start keeping things in designated places, even labeling where things go as a reminder. Keep a diary as both a mental outlet and a way to remember important dates. Eat healthy and maintain a specific hygiene schedule (like always showering right after breakfast) as part of your everyday ritual. The more consistent you can stay now, the easier it will be to stick to it as your condition progresses.
Ensure that your daily routine includes regular socializing. It could be as simple as a daily email to your son or daughter, calling up an old friend for a chat, or even creating and maintaining a social media account. You could even start a blog; it could begin with the onset of your symptoms and eventual diagnosis, then provide first-hand insight into your new routine and what it’s like to be faced with so many rapid changes. This kind of perspective is incredibly valuable not only to reach out, but also to educate others about Alzheimer’s in a more accessible light.
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your loved ones if you’re having trouble adjusting. Take it day by day and step by step. Remember: what comes next is you taking control of your Alzheimer’s, not the other way around.
Jasmine Dyoco is a fan of crossword puzzles, gardening, books on tape, learning (anything!) and fencing. She truly enjoys the work she does with Educator Labs and hopes you’ll stop by the site to learn more!