Alzheimer’s is a scary diagnosis and is especially scary when your loved one is the one who receives the diagnosis. You parent will be overwhelmed by the news and will need you there to help support them as they transition into dealing with the disease. Understanding the diagnosis, seeking support and safety of your loved one are all important aspects to consider when your parent is first diagnosed. Because Alzheimer’s is a progressive and degenerative disease it is important to set up a plan for the future of your parent and your family. Setting this plan up early is going to be best since your parent will be able to participate in the planning of their future.
Understanding the Diagnosis
Alzheimer’s is a disease that attaches the neurons in the brain. This slow attack causes the neurons to die and pieces of the brain to not function adequately. The brain develops lesions which make it difficult for the brain to function like it is meant to. Many people hear the term dementia in relation to Alzheimer’s disease because they are related. Dementia is the loss of brain function, this can occur from a variety of diseases, but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
There is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there are medical options that may lessen the symptoms. Go with your family member to the doctor if necessary to work through any concerns you may have and talk about possible medications to help or prolong the disease process.
It is essential to seek support for your loved one after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a scary diagnosis that can be extremely overwhelming. The disease itself lends patients to having depression and seeking a support group of peers will be helpful for your parent in working through their psychological and physically symptoms.
As a family member it is also important that you seek help from a support group or other peers. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses it may be necessary for you to take on a larger role in the care of your parent. Discussing your concerns with other people who have also had to work with a parent who has Alzheimer’s disease may make the process easier for you to deal with.
Understanding that Alzheimer’s disease can make it difficult for your parent to live alone you will want to discuss safety concerns as soon as your parent receives the diagnosis. Memory issues and the inability to complete self care tasks can make it dangerous for your loved one to be left alone. If there is a spouse still at home with your parent then you may need to offer support during times when your other parent needs to be away from the home. Discussing these safety concerns during early Alzheimer’s stages may seem premature, but it is best to include your parent in as many decisions as possible early in their diagnosis.
When a parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease it is a whole family issue. Work together to discuss the concerns of your parents and listen to their request for end of life decisions in a sympathetic manner. Discussing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease can be very emotional so bring in a therapist if needed so everyone feels supported in the process. Seek assistance through doctors, support groups and online resources so you feel well informed for what is ahead of you as your parent’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses. The concerns that you are having about your parent are likely shared by many other individuals who have dealt with a parent or family member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.