You are sitting in the doctor’s office with your mom and the doctor has just diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s.
You had a strong feeling that this was going to be her diagnosis, as you have observed her memory has been rapidly declining over the past few years. You also noticed that she stopped paying bills and shopping for food. In addition to noticing those things, you also became aware of a strong odor collecting in her home from the piles of laundry that she had been constantly disregarding for weeks and even months at a time. But even with you coming to the realization that most all of the symptoms for Alzheimer’s were present, you are still finding it difficult to digest what lies ahead. You have many questions; you don’t even know what it is you should do or say to help her.
Hearing the doctor state that your loved one has Alzheimer’s can be quite overwhelming, especially for someone who knows nothing about the illness.
When my own father was first diagnosed with the illness many years ago, information was much more limited, than there is now.
After the diagnosis, comes a multitude of feelings from anger and confusion to being undoubtedly upset. Having the necessary information on hand to help your loved one with getting through the next step in this journey should be refreshing and a bit comforting as well.
Step 1: You will want to ask the doctor some very important questions. Why does he or she feel the diagnosis is Alzheimers? At what stage does he or she feel your loved one is at in the disease and what additional medical symptoms may develop or manifest over time.
Having the doctor directly address these questions, will give you a better sense of how this disease will impact your loved one and how quickly. It will also allow you to decide on how to approach this disease head on.
Step 2: Ask the doctor about treatment options. At this time the medical field does not recognize there to be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease however there are many medications and strategies of management that will slow down the progressiveness of the disease as well as improving symptoms. When inquiring about these treatment options, you will want to know:
A. How long the medication/method of treatment has been on the market? You may want to further evaluate a medication that has been on the market for just a few short months. In many instances (and if at all possible), a medication marketed for a longer time frame - at least a year or two- allows a longer time frame for the ability of the pharmaceutical industry to recognize the outcome (side effects, effectiveness, warnings).
B. What side effects are there? If any. As with any medication, you always want to be aware of any and all side effects. All medications have one, two or even several side effects. Keeping yourself well-informed as to what kind of side effects there are, will help you in weighing your options to find out if it is worth your loved one taking it.
C. Is it covered by your loved one’s insurance plan and if so, what out of pocket costs are there?
Step 3: While providing care, never stop enjoying your loved one: While it may be upsetting to know that your loved one has this disease, just know that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is not an outright death sentence; it’s a sickness that requires constant attention and a lifestyle change. Instead of filling yourself with regret and questions about what could have been done differently, take the time from this moment on to relish and appreciate your loved one so that he/she can continue to thrive even after the disease has been identified.
Mental stimulation and physical exercise is one of the best gifts you can give to your loved one throughout the process of this illness. Even some of the easiest tasks can incite stimulation and give him or her a sense of accomplishment. Helping your loved one to paint, draw, dance and sing to music; or enjoy activities such as baking, going through photo albums or simply walking through the park are all essential ways in which you can keep him or her engaged in life’s pleasures and maintain a sense of normalcy.
If you have a loved one that has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you are probably experiencing a barrage of feelings including being upset, overwhelmed and baffled.
Just know that you and your loved one are not alone, Sisters Helping Seniors has been created to assist wonderful people like you who have been impacted by a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
We at Sisters Helping Seniors have 35 years combined experience in the assisted living industry. We are highly skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to providing referral care for a variety of senior services and providing peace of mind to the family and friends of those loved ones. Why take on all of the responsibilities to make your loved one comfortable? Sisters Helping Seniors is there when you need us to take on your loved one’s needs. We can help to alleviate stress and frustration so that you can use your valuable time to have fun and enjoy the one that you love earnestly and freely.
Visit our website at SisterHelpingSeniors.com or Give us a call today at (908) 502-6165