Mary Alexander: Hi! I am Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care and today I'm talking about how to handle a loved one's diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Certainly, learning that your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease can be very trying emotionally. The best bet though is to be honest and share the truth about the diagnosis. In some cases, it can actually be comforting, because it provides an explanation for forgetfulness. It also opens opportunities for discussion about finding and getting help.
Generally, if your senior has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, first, you should learn all you can about dementia, so that you can speak to your family members with confidence and answer questions.
A good place to start is helpforAlzheimersfamilies.
com. Second, take an upbeat approach, noting there is a lot of life left. Third, answer your loved one's questions fully, but stress the positive. For example, talk about medications that may help. Fourth, let him or her know, you will always be there for support.
After a dementia diagnosis, you may become worried about your senior loved one's ability to drive. When telling your loved one, he or she can no longer drive, make sure the whole family is onboard, and if necessary, deflect negative attention away from family members and onto an outside source. For example, you could state that the doctor said he or she can't drive and leave it at that. Then offer alternatives such as community-based senior transportation or contracting with home-based help that provides license drivers to take the loved ones to appointments, shopping and the like.
You may also notice after the diagnosis that your senior is depressed. Common signs of depression include anxiety, sadness, lack of appetite, spending more time sleeping, weight loss, apathy and agitation.
If your senior appears to be suffering with depression, contact his or her doctor and see if some anti-depressant medication might help. Exercise, social activity and lots of hugs can also make them feel better. If your senior is concerned about his or her memory loss, there are some drugs on the market that might help.
The four current medications for dementia can temporarily improve symptoms and help a person think better and remain independent longer. Challenges remain though, because these drugs work better for some people than others and they tend to lose effectiveness over time.
While there is no cure for dementia and Alzheimer's disease, there is some help and research remains strong. In the end, the best support you can provide is to keep your senior loved one active and social. Basically, help them engage in as much life as possible.