The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming. Even if you suspected something was wrong, hearing it officially confirmed can be emotional for you and those who love you. While you might feel as if you have no control over your life now, there are actually steps you can take that will keep you feeling in charge and empowered.
Sit down with your loved ones and work together to create a plan for the future. That plan should start with learning more about Alzheimer’s and advance to more detailed decisions about this complex disease.
Learn More About Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is by far the most common type of dementia. An estimated 5.5 million seniors are believed to live with Alzheimer’s. If you’ve recently become one of them, it’s important to learn more about the disease.
Make sure you and your family understand the stages and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It’s the best way to plan for the future. Planning ensures you have time to think through how you want your care to be handled and to convey those wishes to your family.
The Alzheimer’s Association created a comprehensive resource center that makes it easier to learn more about the symptoms, stages, treatment, and care options for people with Alzheimer’s. The site also has an Interactive Brain Tour that shows how the disease affects the brain. Try to gather those closest to you together to walk through this information.
Planning for the Future When You Have Alzheimer’s
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan for your future:
- Difficult emotions: After receiving this diagnosis, you and your family members may experience a roller coaster of emotions ranging from shock to fear, sadness, and anger. It is a normal reaction and one most families experience. Take care of your emotional well-being by finding healthy ways to cope with your feelings. Talking with a professional might help, as will surrounding yourself with a strong support system. You can also reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association for help connecting with a support group.
- Healthy lifestyle: While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle might slow the disease’s progression. Try to engage in some form of exercise each day. Tai chi, walking, swimming, and chair yoga also have the added benefit of helping to reduce stress. A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein might help, too.
- Build a support team: As you begin to plan for the future, you will have many decisions to make. From physicians to caregivers, it is important to have a support team you trust and feel comfortable with. Also think about whom in your circle of family members and friends that you want to speak for you if you become unable to speak for yourself.
- Who to tell: As you begin to adjust to this diagnosis, think about how you want to inform others. Telling people who love you can be a difficult thing to do. If you prefer, ask a loved one to share your news on your behalf.
Live Your Best Quality of Life
Finally, it’s important to know that there are care partners who can help you continue to live your best quality of life despite this diagnosis.
Some seniors and their families find the supportive environment of an assisted living community to be an ideal solution. As the disease progresses, you can transition in to a memory care program designed to help with the unique challenges Alzheimer’s creates.