Holiday Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

memory center midlothian vaThe holidays can be challenging, especially when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other form of Dementia.  Let us help ease the stress and join us for a special event. 

Hear from The Alzheimer’s Association and learn effective holiday tips, which will include creating a safe, stress free environment, along with individual and family preparation supporting you and your loved one.

As a caregiver, we understand getting away can be difficult, so your loved one is  welcome to join. You can even  creating memorable moment with the opportunity to design your own personalized holiday ornament.
attend and participate.

When: December 13th, 2017, 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Where: The Memory Center, Richmond, 13800 Bon Secours Drive (adjacent to St. Frances Medical Center)
Midlothian, VA 23114

This event is free and open to the public.  

 

Cold Weather Tips for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia comes with unique challenges.  But when the weather turns cold there are even more factors to consider.   

Everything from minimizing fall risks in parking lots to preventing confusion and fear during a winter storm are factors to consider.

These cold weather tips can help you get prepared to keep your loved one safe and comfortable.

Preventing Winter Falls

During the winter, ice is often an issue and can be very dangerous. Even the smallest amount of ice lead to a fall – especially for those who may not be as steady on their feet as they once were. But when you have to get to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment there are times icy steps or sidewalks just can’t be avoided.

Proper Footwear – If you must take your loved one out in inclement or icy weather make sure they have warm footwear with plenty of traction.  They may insist on wearing their favorite bedroom slippers but safe footwear is critical to preventing slips or falls.

Parking – Whenever possible pull your car into a garage or as close to a non-slippery surface as possible. Help them in and out of the car to a safe, non-slippery space. If possible, recruit a friend or family member to help your loved inside while you park the car.

Many hospitals, doctors offices and shopping areas offer low-cost or free valet parking so you can get as close to the entrance as possible and walk your loved one inside without having to deal with slippery parking lots or walking too far from a parking space. 

memory care facilities richmond vaSafety at Home – Monitor your outdoor space for hazards inkling icy steps, uneven sidewalks, tree branches or anything that could facilitate a fall. Keep a supply of ice melt on hand and follow best practices to use it effectively and safely including storing it away from children, pets, or anyone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Staying Active

Even in winter months getting outside and staying active can be fun and help everyone stay healthy.  Even a walk around the block or around the back yard can boost someone’s mood and keep boredom away – it just takes some extra precautions. Caregivers will need to help those with dementia to dress for colder weather including:

  • Hats, scarves, mittens or gloves that are easy to get on and off
  • Wear appropriate shoes or non-skid boots
  • Pay attention to slippery stairs sidewalks, ice falling off trees, slippery or slush snow that could cause someone to easily lose their balance

Too Cold To Get Outside?

Those living with memory loss struggle to separate memory from the physical state of present-day living.  They can often become bored overwhelmed or agitated which can lead to Alzheimer’s wandering. When it is too cold outside it is still important to try and stick to your daily schedule to prevent these behaviors.

If your daily walk isn’t feasible because of cold weather, plan ahead and have other activities ready.  Chose those that will help promote movement and inspire purpose. Such as playing cards, appropriate crafts or even walking around the house or looking out the window at bird feeder.

Winter Storm Coming?

If the forecast calls for winter storm or severe cold take precautions early. You will be more relaxed and so will your loved one.  If they sense you are worried and nervous they can easily pick up on your behavior.

Plan ahead by stock up on supplies including food, medications, incontinence supplies, flashlights, batteries, hats and blankets. Plan for some fun activities including puzzles, listening to music, making snowflake crafts or clipping coupons.

Power Outages at The Memory Center

Both the Memory Center Richmond and Virginia Beach have several cold weather safety features in place including snow removal, backup generators, emergency food supplies and plans to maintain fully staffed. 

Contact us for more information about our dedicated memory care communities in Atlanta (Johns Creek), Richmond and Virginia Beach or to schedule a tour.

 

 

Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is challenging.  If you are caring for a spouse or close family member it can be even more challenging as you’re also dealing with the emotion of seeing a loved one in a state of decline.

There are some practical tips caregivers can take to help manage stress.

Reduce Alzheimer’s Frustration & Agitation

activites for alzheimers patients
Activities like gardening can inspire purpose and prevent boredom.

Agitation is common in people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Agitation can be caused by boredom, new situations, fear stemming from trying to make sense of a world they don’t understand, or basic needs like hunger.

Caregivers might not be able to reduce agitation completely but there are steps they can take to get ahead of it.

Take note of when agitation seems to occur.  Is it a a specific time of day around mealtime?  Perhaps they are hungry or thirsty.  Is it at a busy time of day when other family members are coming home from work? If so try to limit noise or outside distractions and engage them in an appropriate activity.

Activities that provide a sense of independence and purpose can ease agitation – especially with those in the early stages of the disease.  Familiar activities like setting the table, gardening, folding laundry, helping in the kitchen (with supervision), or their favorite craft. See our ideas for different activities or  these tips from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Realize You Are Not Alone

While caregivers may feel isolated, it is important to know many others are in the same situation.  Don’t be afraid to attend support groups where you can share your feelings or ask for helpful ideas. The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations also offer online forums and support where you can connect with others 24 hours a day.

Develop A Schedule

Develop a basic schedule based around your loved one’s mood and needs.  For example scheduling appointments, bathing and other activities in the morning when they are rested and have more energy.

As late afternoon approaches you may sense a trend of wandering or agitation from sundowning.  This could be a good time of day to engage them in easy, soothing activities such as listening to music, watching a familiar movie, clipping coupons or looking through old photos.  Click to read The Memory Center tips on how to manage sundowning.

Acknowledge Each Day Is Different

Even with a schedule every day will be different and sometimes you just need to be flexible.   Those with Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers, will have better days than others.  There may be days you feel like you didn’t get anything accomplished – and it is OK to feel that way.  Keeping someone fed, safe, bathed and occupied is a big job and an accomplishment in itself.

Think About Safety

In addition to memory loss, Alzheimer’s also affects other brain functions including sense of perception and balance.  Creating a safe place in the home where they can walk safely without trip hazards including rugs, cords, or sharp corners is highly encouraged.

Another safety concern is wandering, which is a common behavior for people with memory loss. Even if your loved one isn’t wandering, it is still a good idea to take steps to prevent wandering before it starts. Consider installing locks high up on doors and adding an alarm system, or a simple bell mechanism, that will alert you if a door has been opened.  ID bracelets and other tracking devices like Medic Alert can help identify your loved one should they wander off.

Take A Break & Ask For Help

Caregivers are under a lot of stress and often don’t take time to keep up with friends, exercise routines or their own needs.  Not taking breaks can easily lead to fatigue and caregiver burnout which isn’t good for you or your loved one.

Even if someone with Alzheimer’s objects, caregivers need to schedule time away on a regular basis.  Ask another family member for help or consider using respite services who can provide caregivers experienced in working with people living Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Get More Alzheimer’s Tips

The Memory Center is dedicated to meeting the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community designed around the individual.  We are here to support our current residents, future residents and their families by providing resources and exceptional programming to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Fill out our contact form to receive more tips and information on how to live well with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Taking Care Of Yourself & Managing Time After Being A Caregiver

As a caregiver, you invested countless hours meeting your loved one’s needs. Now that your season of caregiving has ended, you may feel uncertain about what to do next.

12 Tips For Adjusting To Life After Being A Caregiver

Consider these tips that help you care for yourself and manage your time.

tips for grieving caregivers1. Give yourself permission and time to grieve

After any loss, you will need time to grieve.

The commonly held stages of grief include:   

  • Denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, and/or isolation   
  • Anger   
  • Bargaining   
  • Despair and/or depression   
  • Acceptance   

Instead of hiding or feeling ashamed or guilty, give yourself permission to experience the grieving process. Realize that everyone grieves differently, and you may progress through the grief stages methodically or swing back and forth.

Likewise, you may experience intense emotions or a quiet sadness. No matter what you feel, understand that your grief is normal and that you have the right and need to experience grief in your way.

2. Use healthy and appropriate coping mechanisms

Grief can last months or even years, and you may wonder if you’ll ever return to normal. To cope, you may turn to drugs, alcohol, food, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

While you will never forget your loved one, we promise that the pain will eventually subside. Stuffing your emotions or drowning your feelings will only hurt you now and into the future. In fact, unhealthy and inappropriate coping can cause physical pain, emotional illnesses or long-term negative reactions.

Choose to exercise, talk, journal, or embrace other positive and healthy coping mechanisms as you grieve and protect yourself.

3. Ask for and accept help

In your caregiver role, you were the one who gave all the help. Caregiving depletes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual resources, and now you’re the one in need of assistance.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help as needed. Consider writing a list of tasks others can do for you or call friends who will listen and offer support.

By asking for and accepting help, you receive support and allow others to show you love.

4. Take care of your health

Visiting a doctor may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you spent a lot of time in a hospital with your loved one. You deserve to care for yourself, though, as you respect and energize your body during the grieving process.

Apply your caregiving duties to yourself and insist on a healthy daily regimen. Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and visit your doctor for scheduled checkups.

Prioritizing your health equips and strengthens you for your grief journey.

5. Join a support group

Talking about your caregiving and grief experiences may scare you. It’s also hard to be vulnerable and continue to rehash the events surrounding your loved one’s passing.

Other caregivers and professional therapists or grief counselors understand what you’ve gone through. You can share your experiences and discuss your feelings and concerns in a support group. Here, you’ll gain practical advice and emotional support that sustains you as you adjust to life after caregiving.

Talking and sharing can also help others find healing, too.

6. Delay major decisions

The act of caregiving and managing grief takes a toll on your body, mind, and emotions. You need time to find a new normal.

Give yourself at least a year or as much time as you need before you make any major decisions, such as moving, growing your family, changing jobs, or entering a romantic relationship.

This cushion of time prevents you from making an emotional decision you later regret and helps you rediscover yourself.

7. Embrace new routines

Much of your daily routine used to revolve around caring for your loved one. Now, you may miss your caregiving responsibilities and struggle with the significant changes in your daily routine.

Rest assured that in time you can and will develop a new routine that becomes familiar, comfortable, and fulfilling. Start by deciding what will fulfill you each day. Remember to eat, exercise, and spend time doing things that fulfill you, too.

These steps lead you to embrace a new and positive routine.

8. Reevaluate your relationships

Loss affects everyone differently. Some people in your life may step up and offer additional support while others step away and distance themselves.

This relationship ebb and flow after a loss is normal, and you will eventually rediscover a strong and healthy support system.

For now, try to accept inevitable relationship changes. You can reduce stress when you bless and release people who withdraw and show gratitude for people who choose to stay.

9. Carefully choose new responsibilities

Without your caregiving duties, you may have fewer or even no responsibilities. You may find yourself bored, frustrated, or angry and be tempted to over-function and jump right into another caregiving relationship.

Consider giving yourself an extended time off from helping others. Work instead on the hard job of grieving.

You will also benefit from rediscovering the activities, interests, and duties that are important and fulfilling for you. Then carefully choose the new responsibilities you want to embrace as you fill your time.

10. Find fulfilling activities and interests

Caregiving takes time and energy. Instead of enjoying activities and investing in interests that used to be important, you may have put yourself on the back burner.

Now’s a great time to return to the activities and interests that mattered before you took on your caregiving role. You may even develop new hobbies.

Whichever experiences you choose to embrace, know that it’s healthy to fill some of your time with activities and interests that fulfill you and make you happy and content.

11. Discover new priorities and goals

Your role as a caregiver revolved around meeting your loved one’s needs and putting their priorities and goals above your own. Through that process, you may have given up your dreams.

Take time now to think about your future and what you want your life to look like. Then decide your priorities and set goals that propel you to make your dreams come true.

12. Help others

As an experienced caregiver, you have developed dozens of skills. You also understand the hard work caregiving takes, and you know about the grieving process firsthand.

Consider using your experience to help others. You could offer encouraging and beneficial support to other caregivers and make a difference in their lives.

By giving back, you gain an outlet for your energy and may even ease some of your grief symptoms.

Rebuilding Life When Caregiving Ends

Your role as a caregiver for your loved one may be over, but you can now embrace a new season of life.

Consider implementing these tips. With them, you find fulfillment and meaning as you care for yourself and manage your time.

You may also find caregiving support in these related articles:

 

 

 

Common Challenges for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia is challenging, and caring for a spouse or family member add the emotions of seeing a loved one in a state of decline.

While there are no easy answers or fool-proof way to get through a day as a caregiver without any frustration, there are practical tips that can help you prepare for common challenges.

Handling Alzheimer’s Frustration & Agitation

Agitation is common in people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  It can be caused by boredom, new situations, fear stemming from trying to make sense of a world they no longer understand, or basic needs like being thirsty.

While caregivers can’t completely eliminate agitation there are steps you can take to get ahead of it.

Take note of when agitation seems to occur.  Is it a a specific time of day around mealtime?  Perhaps they are hungry or thirsty.  Is it at a busy time of day when other family members are coming home from work? If so try to limit noise or outside distractions and engage them in an appropriate activity.

Try incorporating activities that provide a sense of independence and purpose  – especially with those in the early stages of the disease.  Familiar activities like setting the table, gardening, folding laundry, helping in the kitchen (with supervision), or a favorite craft. See our ideas for different activities or  these tips from the Alzheimer’s Association.

alzheimer's care tipsFeeling Like There Is No Routine

Even though it might sound impossible, developing a basic schedule around your loved one’s mood and daily needs is beneficial for everyone. 

Knowing what to expect such as eating breakfast at the same time each day, taking a walk after lunch, sorting cards in the afternoon helps everyone feel more at ease with the day and also eliminate blocks of time where it seems like there is nothing to do (which can quickly lead to agitation).

Plan to schedule appointments, bathing and other activities during the time of day when your loved one is usually more rested, has more energy and is more agreeable.  For most people with memory loss, this is in the morning.

As late afternoon approaches many will begin wandering and can become agitation from sundowning.  During this time of day plan easy, soothing activities such as listening to music, watching a familiar movie, clipping coupons or looking through old photos. 

Not Getting Enough Help and Support

Caregivers often feel isolated and it is important to know you are not alone!  Many others are in the same situation so don’t be afraid to reach out and attend support groups where you can share your feelings and learn from others. The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations also offer online forums and support where you can connect with others 24 hours a day.

Caregivers are under a lot of stress and often don’t take time to keep up with friends, exercise routines or their own needs.  Not taking breaks can easily lead to fatigue and caregiver burnout which isn’t good for you or the person you are caring for.

Even if someone with Alzheimer’s objects, caregivers need to schedule time away on a regular basis.  Ask another family member for help or consider using respite services who can provide caregivers experienced working with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  The more you enlist the same person to help on a consistent basis the more comfortable everyone will become.

Safety Issues & Concerns

In addition to memory loss, Alzheimer’s also affects other brain functions including sense of perception and balance.  Create a safe place in the home where they can walk without trip hazards such as rugs, cords, or sharp corners is highly encouraged and can reduce falls or other accidents.

Another safety concern is wandering, which is a common behavior for people with memory loss. Even if your loved one isn’t wandering, you should still take steps to prevent wandering before it starts.Consider installing locks high up on doors and adding an alarm system, or a simple bell mechanism, that will alert you if a door has been opened.  ID bracelets and other tracking devices like Medic Alert can help identify your loved one should they wander off.

Accepting Each Day Is Different

Even with a schedule every day will be different and sometimes you just need to be flexible.   Those with Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers, will have better days than others.  There may be days you feel like you didn’t get anything accomplished – and it is OK to feel that way.  Keeping someone fed, safe, bathed and occupied is a big job and an accomplishment in itself.

Get More Alzheimer’s Tips

All Memory Center communities are dedicated to meeting the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community designed around the individual.  We are here to support our current residents, future residents and their families by providing resources and exceptional programming to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Fill out our contact form to receive more tips and information on how to live well with Alzheimer’s and dementia or find out more about our communities in Virginia Beach, Richmond/Midlothian or Atlanta/Johns Creek.

 

My Spouse Has Dementia and Follows Me Everywhere

When someone has Alzheimer’s the world no longer makes sense to them the way it used to. They come to rely on their primary caregiver, often a spouse, as the person who keeps them safe and guides them through their every day.

It isn’t uncommon for someone with memory loss to become anxious when they can’t see their caregiver spouse.  They may be afraid of what might happen if you aren’t there to help them, or even afraid you will leave them. This fear often leads to what is referred to as shadowing – meaning they become your shadow trying to follow you everywhere, even to the bathroom or stand by your side as you wash dishes.  And while they aren’t trying to bother you, it can be exhausting and difficult to get a break.

How are you supposed to get any rest or relief if someone is following you around all the time?

It is important to take time for yourself.  Even if your spouse doesn’t agree or protests.

dementia care midlothian va
It is OK to ask someone to care for your spouse while you take a break.

There is a tremendous amount of stress on primary caregivers, and if you don’t take time to shower, rest, socialize or even get a haircut, it is easy to become burned out.

Recruit a Trusted Helper

Don’t feel guilty about asking a trusted family member or friend to help for a few hours, or hire someone from a home health agency to help out. Yes, your spouse might seem suspicious or protest the change, but they will be alright. If you enlist the same person to help on a consistent basis, the more comfortable everyone will become.

Getting a Helper has Worked for Other Families

For example, a primary caregiver we know had been taking care of her spouse with dementia. The spouse shadowed her most of the day.  Even putting away dishes became difficult as he was always getting in front of her as she tried to reach the cabinets.

She hired an aide to come help two days a week with laundry, cleaning, and cooking. She hadn’t planned on leaving her spouse alone with the aide, she just knew she needed help.

After a few weeks, the wife realized she enjoyed having the aide there not only for the help but also to have someone talk to. This was a pretty good sign she needed to take more time for herself and start socializing with friends again.

Even though her husband still preferred that she do everything for him, he came to recognize the aide as someone who could be trusted as well. The wife started leaving the house to run errands alone or go visit her grandchildren knowing that even if her husband protested he was in good hands.

Don’t Feel Guilty about taking Time for Yourself When Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s give yourself a break. Taking some time away is ultimately good for you, and your spouse, as a rested caregiver is better than an exhausted and frustrated one.

Learn More about Caring for Someone with Dementia

Get more caregiver tips from The Memory Centers in Virginia Beach, Atlanta, and Richmond. Our communities are dedicated to providing the best care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We also offer a wide range of information and events to help educate those serving as primary caregivers at home.

Contact us for more information about our communities.

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Memory Center Atlanta Informational Seminar

The Memory Center, Atlanta invites you to a special informational seminar on Sunday, May 21st from 1pm-3pm. 

Learn more about what Memory Care means,  determining the right time to moved your loved one, what to look for in a community, pricing information, caregiver tips and more. 

memory care johns creek
Download a flyer.

The Memory Center, Atlanta is opening soon and will be area’s most comprehensive community dedicated exclusively to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Located in Johns Creek next to City Hall and Emory Johns Creek Hospital at 12050 Findley Rd our community is comprised of 48 residential suites designed and constructed around our innovative Town Center concept.

Visit us and see the new standard in Memory Care.  Everyone who attends will receive a complimentary copy of “How to Care for Aging Parents” by Virginia Morris.

The Memory Center, Atlanta Information Seminar

When:  Sunday May 21st, 1pm – 3pm

Where:  The Memory Center Offsite Location: Regus Office Bldg. 11555 Medlock Bridge Rd. (next to Hyatt Place) Johns Creek, GA 30097 – Site tours of our facility will be available

RSVP: Seating at our off-site location is limited, so please RSVP to Christine Miller at (678) 456-4304 or email: Christinem@thememorycenter.com.

 

 

Most Common Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia, LBD, might not be a term you are familiar with, yet LBD impacts up to 1.4 million individuals and their families in the US and is second leading cause degenerative dementia (Alzheimer’s is leading cause).

Knowing the most common symptoms of Lewy body dementia is critical to early detection and conversations with your medical provider.  Because symptoms are often similar to diseases such as Parkinson’s, LBD may go undiagnosed or properly treated for some time.

Common Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms Include:

 

Impaired thinking, such as loss of executive function (planning, processing information), memory, or the ability to understand visual information.

Fluctuations in cognition, attention or alertness;

Problems with movement including tremors, stiffness, slowness and difficulty walking

Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not present)

Sleep disorders, such as acting out one’s dreams while asleep

Behavioral and mood symptoms, including depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, delusions or paranoia

Changes in autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and bladder and bowel function.

Source: Lewy Body Dementia Foundation

 

As LBD progresses the individual will need more care either at home or in a residential facility such as The Memory Center communities dedicated to helping those living with memory loss including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Find out how you an get involved in the fight against Lewy body dementia, get caregiver tips or more information.

Can You Get Alzheimer’s In Your 50s?

While Alzheimer’s is typically noted in people 65 and older, it is possible to see symptoms in people 50 or even younger.

This is referred to as early onset, and it is estimated approximately 200,000 in the U.S have early onset Alzheimer’s.

Who Gets Early Onset Alzheimer’s?

While Alzheimer’s is still being studied, many scientists believe early onset often runs in families and may be due to rare genes that get passed from generation to generation.  People who inherit these rare genes tend to develop symptoms in their 50s and even as young as 35.

When two or more people in a family have Alzheimer’s disease it is known as familial Alzheimer’s disease. About 25% of all Alzheimer disease is familial and when Alzheimer disease starts before 60 or 65 years of age about 60% of those cases are familial. (Source National Institutes of Health)

How is Early Onset Diagnosed?

To date, there is no one test a doctor can perform to confirm an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Your doctor will get your full medical history, including symptoms such as especially memory loss.  Expect to take tests that check your memory and see how well you solve problems.  Your doctor may ask you about work or home related stress and medications you are taking, as these can sometimes produce Alzheimer’s like symptoms.

Imaging tests that detect changes in your brain such as a CT Scan or MRI may be ordered to help rule out other causes of your symptoms.

What To Do Now?

If your doctor suspects early onset Alzheimer’s they may prescribe medications or other interventions to help with memory loss.  Make sure to talk to your doctor and ask questions so you, and your family, know what to expect and begin planning for the future – including making important financial decisions.

The Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation and other resources offer a wealth of information.  Topics including An Introduction to Caregiving and online message boards where you can connect with others in the same situation, ask questions, share your feelings or find local support groups.

Don’t be afraid to reach out.  Staying connected can help alleviate feelings of being alone or overwhelmed that so many face.

If You Need Alzheimer’s Residential Care

tmc town center
The Memory Center, Richmond

As the disease progresses many caregivers find residential care becomes necessary for the safety and care of their loved one.  While this is a very difficult decision to make, we encourage you to not wait until a crisis situation, such as a fall or an episode of wandering, to discuss the option.

Facilities such as the Memory Center are exclusively designed for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Every detail of color, texture, lighting and space is designed to address the primary environmental objectives recommended by The Alzheimer’s Association including “an indoor space that allows for freedom of movement and promotes independence,” while offering “safe and secure outdoor areas” including our courtyard and walking trails.

Our residents do not spend their days in a dark room or alone in front of the television.   Each day at The Memory Center includes programming designed  stimulate the mind and body while encouraging social interaction and easing agitation.

Find out more about our Alzheimer’s care programs in Virginia Beach and Midlothian/Richmond or read more caregiver tips or what to look for when touring a memory care facility.

What To Do When You Get An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Getting an official diagnosis that memory lapses are the result of Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-altering. If you or your loved one still function “normally” in day-to-day life, it can be tempting to go into denial and pretend as if everything’s just fine until there are more obvious or alarming signs that compromise the quality of life.

The truth is, however, that fast-action is the key to creating both short- and long-term care plans. There is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it is considered a progressive disease. The rate at which it progresses varies for each person, but it can happen more rapidly than expected, and this places the person with Alzheimer’s, his/her spouse, and loved ones in a crisis state.

Taking Timely, Methodical Actions After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

The more you learn about Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s resources in your area, the faster you’ll be able to establish a personalized plan of action.

The goal is to give the person with Alzheimer’s ability to make some decisions for him/herself whenever possible. This becomes challenging – and then impossible – as the condition progresses because transitions are detrimental if you wait too long.

Learn about the disease and current treatment options

Hopefully, your medical team, including the neurologist, have provided you with lots of information about Alzheimer’s, all together it’s progression, and the known medications, lifestyle changes and treatment options that support a patient’s wellbeing.

Other helpful resources for learning about Alzheimer’s include:

Don’t hesitate to call or email your primary physician to schedule a follow-up appointment, so you can ask questions and listen to the answers you may not have been able to take in during the immediate consultation after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Start the conversation regarding memory care options

Memory care will play a role at some point, and the quality of this care – and its ability to improve the quality of life for your loved one – is 100% related to how soon s/he transitions into the right community. This will probably require multiple conversations as you weigh the pros and cons of various options, and tour facilities and communities.

While the idea of staying home is preferred by many, caregiving for a middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s patient is a full-time job. 

Unfortunately, contrary to the original plan, many spouses or close family members realize too late that they aren’t capable of providing the level of care required, 24/7. That results in a very traumatic transition into memory care, assisted living or nursing home care – and it may mean having to give up your first-choice if they don’t have space when you finally make a decision.

Tour your options as soon as you can

It’s helpful for prospective residents to tour memory care options themselves so they have some autonomy in the decision. However, we understand that this can be scary and nerve-wracking for many – and that some simply refuse to do it all together.

If your loved one is resistant to touring options with you, we recommend inviting a close family member or friend to accompany and support you. You might find starting the process solo – bringing back information and ideas – will motivate your spouse or loved one to accompany you the next time.

Read,Questions to Ask When Touring Memory Care Facilities, so you get the information and details you need to make a good decision.

Start to plan for the financial side of things

Memory care is an expense – whether you’re hiring full-time caregivers in your home or you transition into a memory care center. Unless your financial plan already accommodated for extended, long-term care of some kind – you’ll need to start preparing your finances.

Read,Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for some helpful ideas and tips for funding high-quality memory care.

There are situations where Medicare and Medicaid can subsidize expenses, but they rarely pay for the entirety of the costs associated with memory care. After establishing memory care options in your area, their administration and staff will help you review the realm of financial and payment choices available to you.

Keep your loved one as engaged and active as possible

Studies show over and over again that early action in terms of diet, lifestyle habits, social engagement, and mental stimulation are all key to slowing down and decreasing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Often, the shock or embarrassment of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, combined with the complications associated with fading memory and social situations, leads to social isolation. This is a worst-case scenario because mental and social stimulation keeps those neural pathways open and firing.

Try to find daily activities, outings, and social settings that inspire feelings of connections, safety, and security for your loved one. This could also include taking advantage of adult day care options at a prospective memory care center as part of the transition into becoming a resident.

Establish your support network

Being a spouse, partner, or primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is a challenging job. You are going to need a range of support to help along the way.

Ideas include:

It takes a village to care for both those with Alzheimer’s as well as their spouses, family members, and loved ones. Establishing your support network while you have the time and space to do so allows you to activate support options as needed down the road.

Handling A Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Remember: there is never a need to go it alone. 

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, enlist the support of family and friends to help you move forward – step-by-step.

Learn more about your loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and find support in these articles: 

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10
Sep

What To Do When You Get An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Getting an official diagnosis that memory lapses are the result of Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-altering. If you or your loved one still function “normally” in day-to-day life, it can...

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18
Jan

17 Questions to Ask Memory Care Facilities When Touring

Sometimes you have to turn the tables, shift your perspective and look at things from a different angle in order to find the right answer. This is certainly the case...

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15
Oct

The Latest Alzheimer’s Facts, Figures & Stats [2020]

Medicine’s understanding of Alzheimer’s, and its effects on the human brain, is still in the pioneering phases. While we learn more all the time about how genetics, life events, and...

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