Hearing a loved one get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be a terrifying and sad moment for your family. Often, it is the beginning of a long and arduous journey together. It is very important, once you understand, to begin to gather resources around you to help you deal with the emotional and medical parts of this disease.
Ask questions. Learn what to expect. Ask what is normal and what is concerning, so you understand when a doctor’s call is necessary and when it is not. Make a plan, show it to your caretakers and get their input as to what is reasonable and feasible, and what things still should be considered.
Groups like the national institute of aging create guides to help you navigate the more difficult parts and create a strong, structured, supportive environment for your family member. Having experts or supportive, knowledgeable friends to ask questions to and hear your frustrations so you don’t take them out on your loved one is very important.
Don’t Blame the Patient
Your family member will do a lot of things wrong in the future, some of which can be risky. Leaving stoves on, re-washing the same article of clothing, or wandering off are some of the possible things that can put them and you at risk as the disease progresses. It is important to remember that this person is no longer capable during the times when the disease is strongest, and it can only hurt you and your relationship to blame them. Instead, find workarounds to avoid the situation, and begin planning care from places like Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care when these things become risky.
Speak About Intentions
While your loved one is still lucid, have an honest talk about what you want as things move forward. If you want them in your house, but they would rather be in a medical facility, or vice versa, discuss this and try and find a way to make everyone comfortable with what will happen in the future.
The more you can make things easy for your loved one to count on, the longer you can hold on to them. Knowing a schedule of what will happen at each time each day, and having a clock and written schedule will help them re-orient when they get lost. Work some brain-challenging items like crosswords into the day, and spend time with names and faces, showing pictures of everyone who isn’t around daily.
There are a lot of different ways to make the time count as Alzheimer’s progresses. The how is not as important as the fact that you’re doing it, however. Make the times that your loved one is lucid count. Make them feel loved, and do what you can with them for as long as you can.