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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, December 2, 2020

First steps to take after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

If your loved one has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you may find yourselves at a loss for what to do next. A diagnosis of a cognitive illness can leave everyone feeling dazed and it will take some time to reset and begin moving forward.

Reviewing the following steps may help provide guidance to families currently experiencing this situation. And a roadmap to help plan for what the future may bring.

Becoming educated about the illness and what to expect provides a stable foundation. These online resources are a good place to start:

1. Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral Center

2. Alzheimer’s Association

3. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Discover local services and support

Check for programs and services available in your local area next. If you’re unsure of where to begin, visit the Eldercare Locator at https://eldercare.acl.gov

You can also identify local chapters of organizations at the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

It’s understandable if you’re feeling unsure of what to do after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Of course, your doctor and medical team will be excellent resources. But for those who are trying to prepare for steps they can take, the following tips from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) outlines some of their suggestions:

1. Plan ahead for legal, financial and long-term care issues

As soon as possible after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, individuals and their families should make sure that all affairs are in order, including these documents:

  • Will

  • Living will

  • Health care power of attorney

  • Financial power of attorney

You’ll also want to consider possible future care needs and understand any financial resources that may be available to pay for care. These resources can help:

The National Institute on Aging’s website: Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer’s

Become familiar with possible future care and financial resources

Explore here for help paying for services, including medicines, housing and transportation

2. Planning for help with day-to-day tasks

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and most people live at home in the early stages of the illness. Tips to maintain independence include simple memory aids such as a notepad or sticky notes for reminders, a pillbox to organize medications and a calendar for appointments.

Ask family and friends if they can recommend any local services to help with cooking, paying bills, transportation or shopping. Also, consider technology possibilities that can assist with needed tasks.

Remember, caregivers will need help as well. This source offers tips about coping abilities and adjusting to changes in your relationships when someone has been diagnosed with dementia.

3. If you’re still working

If you’re still working when you received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you may be wondering if there are any options available other than leaving employment. Depending on your specific situation, you may want to consider these possibilities:

  • Talk to your human resources department about what benefits may be available, including disability or family leave

  • Ask about reducing your hours or if there are other opportunities within the company that might be less demanding or stressful.

4. Make sure you are safe living at home

Begin by ensuring the home is physically safe. Ask your medical team to order a home-safety evaluation and refer you to a home health care agency to make the assessment. Medicare may cover the cost. You can also review these home-safety tips

Consider wearing a medical ID bracelet in case you become disoriented or find yourself needing help. You may also want to join the MedicAlert and Alzheimer’s Association’s Wandering Support program 

5. Staying safe on the road

Choosing to no longer drive is a hard decision for most older people to make, but it helps to be prepared ahead of time. Try to notice if you’re starting to have confusion while you’re driving or if you’re becoming lost or unable to follow directions.

Consider a driving evaluation to receive an impartial opinion of your skills. Ask your doctor for a referral or visit the American Occupational Therapy Association. You can also learn more about driving safety here

6. Take steps to maintain your physical health

Be proactive to maintain your physical and emotional health and don’t give in to the misguided belief that it no longer matters. Continue with healthy lifestyle routines and if you don’t have them, now is the time to ask for help.

Check with your medical team or research yourself to develop the right exercise program to support your heart health, muscles and joints. Make sure your diet is well-balanced. And take care of your mental health as well by participating in social activities with family and friends.

7. If you live alone

Choose an emergency contact or trusted companion as you navigate this journey. Make sure to discuss their role and expectations. As the illness progresses, you may want to simplify your life and stay in known places and with familiar people.

Look into support products for those who live alone, such as an emergency response system, which can increase your confidence and peace of mind. Reach out to your medical team for referrals to an occupational therapist who can help you learn ways to remain independent for as long as possible.

8. Consider clinical trial participation

Some people will consider taking part in experimental treatments, even if it will only help others in the future. If you’re interested, talk to your doctor about the possibilities. These sources can provide potential trial and study opportunities.

NIA Clinical Trials Finder

NIA Clinical Trials Information

National Institutes of Health

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

Ingleside at King Farm, we understand the difficulty in not only receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis but in finding your way to take the next steps. But it’s important to be able to move forward, making decisions that are critical to someone living with a progressive cognitive illness. Many families have been where you are now and with help, you will find your way.

Our highly trained and compassionate staff is here to provide the care and supportive environment for residents and their families. As Alzheimer’s progresses, you may find that the care needed is becoming more difficult to provide at home. We hope you’ll consider visiting our community to see the support that your loved one will receive in order to continue living an engaged life.

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

 

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