What Happens After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?

adult child talking to parent

What Happens After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?

adult child talking to parent

March 5, 2021 | Health

Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an overwhelming experience, both for the senior and their family members.

There are a number of common recommendations. However, seeing that dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, planning for the future is key.

Take these seven steps after the diagnosis has been made to get organized, prioritize healthy living, and ensure important issues are addressed.

Begin Treatment
The most important step after receiving this diagnosis is to begin treatment. There are medications used to treat AD that have proven effective in minimizing symptoms for a limited time. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet. You must continue to help your loved one schedule visits with their doctor. The doctor will be able to tell how far along the disease is progressing and make recommendations that can help lessen some of the symptoms. This is key when it comes to living a quality life with dementia.

Make a Care Plan
The cognitive difficulties that come with AD can cause patients to make mistakes with medications, mismanage their finances or struggle with performing activities of daily living. Dementia patients must have a comprehensive plan of care in place that will ensure they receive the assistance and supervision they need. You can find all of this at a Memory Care Community. These types of facilities employ new and advanced standards of care for their residents to live an active yet dignified life while also receiving the daily assistance they require.

Evaluate Driving Skills
Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s memory, judgement and ability to focus—all crucial skills for operating an automobile safely. In the earlier stages of the disease, driving may still be an option, but it is wise for dementia patients to undergo regular driving evaluations to ensure they’re still safe behind the wheel. Just know that there will come a time when there is no doubt that a person with dementia should no longer be on the road. It’s an incredibly tough conversation to have. It’s a piece of independence that you’re taking from them. But, based on their safety and the safety of others around them, it’s incredibly important that they no longer drive. Know that at the bottom of your heart, despite their protest and unwillingness to give up their keys, what you’re doing is for the absolute best.

Get Legal and Financial Affairs in Order
Eventually, this awful disease will render your loved one incapable of managing their own life. Therefore, it is crucial for Alzheimer’s patients to make legal preparations for who will handle medical and financial decisions on their behalf. An elder law attorney can draw up POA documents as well as other estate planning essentials like wills, advance directives, and trusts. Making these legal preparations is an urgent matter because an Alzheimer’s patient cannot do so once they are declared legally incompetent.

Stay Mentally and Physically Active
It’s also encouraged that all Alzheimer’s patients be as mentally and physically active as possible since these factors may help slow memory loss and delay declines in their functional abilities. What are some good activities for an Alzheimer’s patient to do? Try some of the following:

  • Listening to music
  • Singing
  • Collaging with old pictures
  • Painting or drawing
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Cooking together
  • Going on familiar walks

Anyone of these suggestions are great. Just make sure they enjoy it, too. That way your loved one will want to do it and do it often.

Adopt a Healthy Diet
Diet may also play an important role in slowing down the rate of memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. Your loved one should try eating a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E. These nutrients, based on research, may help protect the brain. Foods that have B complex vitamins such as folic acid also seem to protect the brain from damage. Antioxidants and folic acid are found in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Do Your Research
For your loved one with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, the more they know, the more prepared you all can be. Take this opportunity to research the disease, learn what to expect, and find helpful resources available near you. Being better informed will help patients and family members alike get the support they need throughout this difficult journey.

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