According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s and 1 in 3 of elderly people will die with dementia or Alzheimer’s. This disease slowly takes memories and cognitive skills away from its host, and it is devastating.
Someone you love was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It feels surreal and you’re unable to predict how this will play out. Your mind is going to a million different places, and you’re scared. You’ve never quite been told news like this before, or you have, and you know what’s coming.
You wonder how this will affect your relationship with your loved one as well as the future. Will they suffer? Will they forget everything, including me? I hope you find comfort in knowing there are millions of other families going through the same experience. As unfair as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is, there are ways to try to cope with the diagnosis and resources to help. Let’s discuss 5 ways to help cope when a loved one is diagnosed, including: allowing yourself to feel, providing comfort, finding the right fit for care, patience with your loved one, and dealing with guilt.
As humans, emotions play a large role in how we tackle situations, feel the feelings you need too. Go scream at the top of your lungs, break something, whatever your mind needs to process the news so that you can be your best self for your loved one in need.
Remember, you have family and friends you can discuss your emotions with and start talking about a plan. It’s important to research Alzheimer’s to become more familiar with the disease. A diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s will always be scary but remember you’re not alone. There are multiple support groups for families of the diagnosed, here’s a few:
As scary as it is for someone you love to be diagnosed with an incurable disease, imagine how scared they must be. Both sides are terrified to know how this will progress so it’s crucial to communicate as much as possible in the beginning.
Their diagnosis may not let them express their fear for the future, which is why it’s important to make your loved one feel safe. Don’t be afraid of them, continue to make eye contact when they’re speaking to remind them you know who they are and you’re listening.
Keeping up a routine is important in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Try to recall little habits or preferences they have like drinking their favorite juice every morning, hobbies like knitting, or wearing their favorite sweater. Keep reminding them of the familiar as much as you can, but do not push it. Trying to remind someone who they once were, will mostly result in frustration and anger if they do not remember what is asked of them.
Choosing the right form of care is a big decision, you must ask yourself some questions. Is it inviting? Clean? Is there knowledgeable staff? How do they communicate with patients’ families? Is it comfortable? There is an array of potential questions to ask yourself when deciding where to go, and each relates to your personal situation. There are also specialized memory care facilities that focus solely on dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
At this facility, caring is our top priority for your loved one along with our privilege. We offer exceptional care and a comfortable environment. We focus on every resident and their specific and unique needs. Each of our facilities are licensed and inspected by the state health departments, along with each facility having the assistance of the Department of Health regulating our facilities. It’s important to check that any facility you are thinking of choosing, has the proper licensing and certifications. Each year, the National Center for Assisted Living updates state requirements for assisted living care. Click here to find your state.
Although you can’t fully understand what they’re going through, try to remember if they become upset or agitated towards you that it is the disease talking and not them. It’s important to take it day by day, you cannot look too far into the future because each day is different. When diagnosed, they will need to stop doing the tasks they used to do like driving a car, riding a bike, going for a run and it’s important to accept that as a loved one you cannot “fix” or “preserve” them. Patience and accepting the hard realization of this diagnosis are key.
Many family members feel guilty for placing their loved ones in a memory care facility. Do not feel guilty for prioritizing your loved one’s diagnosis by putting them in memory care, you also must prioritize yourself as their care giver or close family member. Neither side wants to be going through this, you’re taking care of them by knowing it’s time they receive professional care, and you should be proud of that. Letting go is very difficult and this disease may take full control, so while you can, take control of it first.
Sometimes, it’s easy to feel irritated or frustrated with your loved one going through Alzheimer’s. This does not make you a bad person or care giver, it makes you human. There’s no right way to grieve someone you love after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. You may fear all the memories they will lose or if they will remember your name. Even if you’re not going through the disease, it doesn’t mean you aren’t already grieving a loss to come and that is okay.
You’re a loved one, who’s worried about another loved one with an incurable disease. Give yourself credit and grace. Taking each day at a time will be beneficial to the both of you. The next day can bring anything, good or bad, so there is no need to try and predict or control the future. Your loved one is lucky to have you.
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