First, deep breathe and have faith that there is help for you while you are about to enter an unpredictable journey in your life.
I’m sure if someone you know how been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there is a flood of emotions that you may be experiencing that range from denial, anger, doubt, scared to overwhelming sadness.
The good news is that there are a tremendous amount of resources at your fingertips to assist you and your loved one but let’s not get ahead of ourselves; baby steps.
Below are some tips that I Have found to help families:
Get Informed: Knowledge is power, and as hard as the truth may be, the faster you can accept that your loved one has Alzheimer’s and truly understand what the disease and its progressions are, the better prepared you will be for the future. I am not suggesting the future will be fun; in fact, it will be a roller coaster of emotions, but the more prepared you are, the better. Take time to research the disease (I would suggest starting at your local Alzheimer’s Association (http://www.alz.org/) and attending their training program).
Talk to the Experts: If you are anything like me, there is only so much reading I can do. My learning increases exponentially when I can have an interactive conversation with another person! Speak with local experts; perhaps your family member’s neurologist would be a good place to start. If you are able to attend the appointments, make sure you go to them prepared with questions, comments, or concerns about your loved one’s health. Make sure that you have a doctor whom you like and trust; having a medical professional in your corner will be an undisputed asset as the disease progresses.
Talk to family/friends/neighbors: You are going to need help. Full stop, no questions asked; anyone that has a family member with Alzheimer’s will need help if not for your loved one but for yourself! Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about what is going on as not only will they be a shoulder to cry on, they will be able to help you: maybe with an extra meal, keeping extra sets of eyes on the neighborhood for your loved one wondering or watching your loved one so you can have a night off. If you are experiencing feelings such as embarrassment, inadequacy, or denial about your loved one’s diagnosis, I implore you to seek help and process those feelings. In my experience, denial of the disease is the worst and scariest reaction. With these families, keeping this information to themselves, for a host of reasons, has created an exponentially harder time for themselves and their loved ones to function. And trust me, your doorman or neighbor has noticed something just isn’t right, so you’re kidding no one.
Take Care of Yourself: Remember, you don’t have to do it all! Home Caregivers often forget to take care of themselves. They get so caught up in all the things needing to be done for the one they love that they fail to see they still have needs too. If you want to be able to give your loved one the best care you can, you need to be eating properly, sleeping well, and taking time to get away for a few hours to relax and enjoy yourself. If you feel that your loved one can’t be left alone, remember that respite care is available to you.
Here at Alvita Care, we have a lot of experience with Alzheimer’s and understand that it can be scary and confusing when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Also, the staff is knowledgeable about the disease and happy to talk and offer suggestions on best practices so give us a call. If you find yourself in this position, here are a few steps that you can take that can help you:
If you want further information about the respite care that we offer, please do not hesitate to contact us.