If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may find yourself understandably unsettled and unsure of what to do next.
It is a life-changing diagnosis and it’s common to find yourself feeling numb, unable to make sense of what has happened or as though your mind is racing with everything that needs to be done.
Take a breath, try to remain calm and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. There are steps you can take to help plan for the future and there is support. You won’t need to go through this alone. You’ll find you can still actively create a quality of life and that can make all the difference.
The National Institute on Aging has created a brief summary on what to do after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, which is outlined below. Consider these next steps:
Becoming informed will help you better prepare for what to expect and what steps you should take. Your local hospitals or aging centers are good places to start for information on resources in your area. National sources include:
Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Education and Referral
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Make and keep regular appointments with your doctor. Don’t ignore other health issues because you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Consider going to a memory disorders clinic. Ask your doctor for a referral.
Finding what resources are available in your area can open the door to discovering other services. Consider these:
Local Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
For local chapters, organizations and support groups
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Being prepared is one of the most proactive steps you can take. Taking action can actually make you feel better and more in control.
For help in planning
Prepare or update legal documents, including your health care power of attorney, financial power of attorney, your will and living will,. To find an attorney, contact your local bar association or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys at www.naela.org
Planning for future care that may be needed
Assistance to pay for medicines, housing, transportation and more
Most people remain at home in the earlier stages of the illness. These simple suggestions can help you maintain your independence:
Use a notepad or sticky notes to jot down reminders
Try a pillbox to keep medications organized
Consider a calendar or day scheduler for your appointments
Research different technology solutions
Review tips about coping and preparing for changes at: www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers/caregiving
Ask your doctor to order a home-safety evaluation and a recommendation for a home health care agency to conduct it. The cost may be covered by Medicare.
Consider wearing a medical ID bracelet in case you get lost or need help.
Join the MedicAlert and Alzheimer’s Association’s Wandering Support program at:
Get a driving evaluation. Ask your doctor for recommendations or visit the American Occupational Therapy Association at: https://myaota.aota.org/driver_search
Learn tips for driving safety at:https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/driving-safety-and-alzheimers-disease
Talk to your doctor if you’re getting lost or confused or if others are worried about your driving.
Staying as healthy as possible will help. Talk to your doctor for tips or visit these sources:
Stay active with exercise and feel better. Visit www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity
Eat a healthy diet. Visit www.nia.nih.gov/health/healthy-eating
Stay cognitively engaged. Visit with family and friends, participate in hobbies and activities.
If you’re struggling to perform your job, ask about possibilities to reduce your hours or transfer to a position that’s less demanding.
Consider consulting with your company’s HR department about family leave, disability or other employee benefits.
Find out if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits through “compassionate allowances.” Contact www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances or (800) 772-1213.
Ask your doctor about trials and studies, if you’re interested.
Contact an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center for assessment and potential research opportunities.
Search for a trial or study near you or one that you could participate in remotely: www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/clinical-trials
Learn more about clinical trials:
NIA Clinical Trials Information: www.nia.nih.gov/health/clinical-trials
National Institutes of Health: https://www.nih.gov/health-information/nih-clinical-research-trials-you
Identify someone to visit regularly and be your emergency contact.
If you may be at risk of falling, order an emergency response system to summon help if you can’t reach the phone.
Consider working with an occupational therapist to learn ways to remain independent. Your doctor can provide more information.
Simplify your life. Stay with familiar places, people and routines.
Get tips about self-care, safety and staying connected at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/tips-living-alone-early-stage-dementia
For those who have been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and those who may be living alone without family or a support system in the area, a memory care community can bring a sigh of relief.
In the early stages of the illness, most people remain in their homes and are able to navigate the challenges. But knowing there is a solution that is specialized in providing the type of compassion and care needed takes away a lot of anxiety about the future.
We understand the fear and anxiety of receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and are here as a resource for the individuals and their families. It’s important to remember that even though this is a life-changing illness, a quality and meaningful life is still possible.
As Alzheimer’s is a progressive illness, if the time does come when a higher level of care is needed we hope you’ll consider Ingleside at Rock Creek Memory Support Assisted Living.
Our compassionate staff, therapies, programs and residences are all designed to provide our residents with the highest level of care, independence and dignity. We are also a supportive resource to our families.