S To Take If Your Loved One Has Been Newly Diagnosed With Dementia
You cant change your loved ones diagnosis, but there are things you can do to help them cope and stay healthy and safe for as long as possible.
What Happens If A Doctor Thinks It’s Alzheimer’s Disease
If a primary care doctor suspects Alzheimers, he or she may refer the patient to a specialist who can provide a detailed diagnosis or further assessment. Specialists include:
- Geriatricians, who manage health care in older adults and know how the body changes as it ages and whether symptoms indicate a serious problem.
- Geriatric psychiatrists, who specialize in the mental and emotional problems of older adults and can assess memory and thinking problems.
- Neurologists, who specialize in abnormalities of the brain and central nervous system and can conduct and review brain scans.
- Neuropsychologists, who can conduct tests of memory and thinking.
Memory clinics and centers, including Alzheimers Disease Research Centers, offer teams of specialists who work together to diagnose the problem. In addition, these specialty clinics or centers often have access to the equipment needed for brain scans and other advanced diagnostic tests.
Gather Information About Your Parents Finances
If your parent names you power of attorney and you will have to handle money matters as your parentâs memory declines, you need to gather as much information about your parentâs finances as soon as possible. Otherwise, youâll have to play detective as your parent forgets more and becomes confused.
Let your parent know that itâs important for you to have the following information so youâll be able to help:
- A list of monthly bills and how they are paid
- A list of financial accounts, account numbers, usernames and passwords
- Types of insurance policies, names of companies that issued the policies, how premiums are paid
- Types and amounts of household debt
- Personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and driverâs license numbers
- Location of tax records
- Names and contact information of financial and legal professionals your parent works with
- Final wishes for funeral and burial
If your parent is reluctant to give you this information in the early stage of Alzheimerâs, ask that he write it down for you. He could store that list someplace safe, tell you how to access it and agree on a point when you would be allowed to access it.
According to the Alzheimerâs Association, those with Alzheimerâs say that having people who reassure them that they will be there for them can help with the process of accepting a diagnosis.
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Parent Diagnosed With Alzheimers Where Do I Start
If youre reading this, chances are you have a parent or family member with Alzheimers. Or you are concerned that your parents memory issues may lead to a diagnosis of Alzheimers.
You are not alone. The Alzheimers Association website lists the following facts:
As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimers. Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimers.
One of the most important things we can do is to educate ourselves and serve as our parents advocate as we navigate the complexities of health care issues.
Join me and Jason Young, geriatric clinician, as we explore many of the questions you may have about dementia and Alzheimers. What are the warning signs? How is a diagnosis made? What are the common treatments? How can you best help and communicate with your parent? How about youwhat support options exist for you?
This Wednesday, July 22nd, 5pm EDT. Mark your calendars now. Click on the following link and in the BlogTalkRadio icon, click the Remind Me. Youll be able to add the event to your Google or Outlook calendars or request an email reminder be sent to you prior to the show.
Parent Diagnosed With Alzheimers
While there is no perfect memory loss remedy, there are several things that you can do to prevent it. First of all, exercising regularly can help keep your lungs in good shape. People who get regular exercise have better memories, and a regular exercise program can reduce stress. Additionally, exercising can help prevent memory loss by keeping your mind active. Here are some of the best ways to make your brain healthier and keep your mind sharp. Read on to learn more. Parent Diagnosed With Alzheimers
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Your Parent Was Diagnosed With Alzheimers Now What
Every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimerâs disease, according to the Alzheimerâs Association. That someone could be your parent.
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimerâs disease at the age of 65. She had been showing signs of memory loss for more than a year, so it wasnât difficult for me to accept the diagnosis. What was hard, though, was knowing what to do next.
The one thing I did know was that I was going to have to be the one to take care of her. She was living on her own because she and my dad had divorced, and my only sibling lived several states away. Fortunately, as a personal finance journalist, I had a good idea of what financial steps needed to be taken. Beyond that, thereâs been a lot of trial and error on my part during the 11 years since my momâs diagnosis.
Hereâs what Iâve learned and what you should know if your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimerâs disease.
Keep Conversation Amped Up
In order to slow down the progression of speaking functions and memory loss, your parent should always have somebody to talk to.
Continually engage them with conversation about everyday events, the past and more abstract topics. As you do, youll not only stimulate them but you can also assess their ability to remember details. Pay particular attention to their recall of newer information.
You should speak without distraction from the TV, computer, music or any other gadgets.
Focus on talking and you can again spend some fruitful time with your aging parent while keeping them mentally fired up.
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Eating a healthy diet is an excellent memory loss remedy. It should consist of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and low-fat proteins. Avoid alcohol and drugs, which can also cause confusion and memory loss. Its important to follow your doctors recommendations, and review your medications regularly. If you suspect a medical condition, you may want to consult a medical professional for a diagnosis and treatment. This way, a physician can prescribe the right medication. Parent Diagnosed With Alzheimers
Eating a healthy diet is an effective memory loss remedy. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve your memory. A balanced diet can also help you to retain information longer. Try to consume at least five servings of these foods a day. The berries contain anthocyanins and flavonoids, which can be very helpful in fighting memory loss. A study of 16,000 women found that those who ate more berries were less likely to suffer from cognitive decline. Turmeric root contains a substance called curcumin, which is found in high concentrations. This compound is a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects.
Initial Causes Parent Diagnosed With Alzheimers
There are several different causes of memory loss. Some cause this condition in the young, while others may be more gradual. If you notice that your memory is weakening, its important to consult a medical professional. Whether the cause is mental illness, age, or a combination of factors, its important to seek treatment as soon as possible. People with extensive memory loss may have social difficulties and anxiety, which can lead to depression. They may be afraid they are letting their loved ones down, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Parent Diagnosed With Alzheimers
Fortunately, there are many causes of memory loss, and many of them are treatable. However, if you are experiencing serious memory problems, you may need medical treatment. If you have been undergoing any type of medication, you should consult with your doctor. Some people have other underlying conditions that may be causing their loss of memory. Alcohol abuse, sleep deprivation, or other mental health conditions can cause memory problems. You should seek out a medical professional if you suspect youre suffering from any of these conditions.
Read Also: Can An Mri Detect Alzheimer’s
Get Your Parent Involved In Numerous Activities
Try to increase the range of activities your parents is involved with. Keeping the brain active can stave off some of the ravages of AD.
From crossword puzzles at home, a game of bingo outside, using a computer or tablet, reading or even watching movies, staying mentally active is key.
Sometimes, this can be an opportunity to start up a new activity with your parent in order to spend more time together. You can turn a negative into a positive.
Bottom line: keep your loved one stimulated and active. This will slow down the insidious progress of Alzheimers.
Help Your Parent Stay Social
Alzheimers disease is a debilitating illness that will cause your affected parent to lose all cognitive abilities and memory over time
Letting the patient deal with the condition alone can hasten its progression.
Whatever your parent likes doing, chances are theres a club for it.
From embracing favorite past activities to seeking new interests, the more you can encourage your parent to mix with others, the better.
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Keep Track Of Symptoms
When it comes to helping manage your parent’s medical care, it can help to keep a record. Write down any problems so you can bring these up at doctorâs appointments, Eisenstadt says. Your parentâs memory, communication skills, or ability to do everyday tasks may slowly get worse.
âCaregivers may have a lot of denial about their parentsâ symptoms. If you look at facts written in a journal, you can see how things are changing,â she says.
Alzheimerâs disease may last for as long as 20 years, Drew says.
What To Do When A Parent Is Diagnosed With Dementia Or Alzheimers: 10 Steps To Help You Move Forward
If your loved one has been newly diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimers disease, you may feel like your world has been turned upside down. You may be sad at the thought of cherished memories that will be lost. You may also feel overwhelmed about the progressive nature of dementia symptoms and worried about how to provide the best care for your parent.
Learning about your loved ones disease and understanding what to expect can help you cope with a dementia diagnosis. It can empower you and your family to make the best decisions about your parents care, whether its at home or in a memory care community.
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What To Do After A Parent Is Diagnosed With Alzheimers
If your parent has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, youre not alone. In the United States alone, another person develops the disease every 66 seconds, creating more than 15 million children, spouses or other family members who are standing in a similar position as you. Despite the prevalence of the disease, family members rarely feel prepared after a diagnosis occurs.
An Alzheimers diagnosis may come as a shock to family members, or it may offer clarity after a difficult period of poor health and multiple examinations. Whatever your familys situation, an Alzheimers diagnosis can be difficult to bear. Jason Basile, Executive Director at The Columbia Presbyterian Community in Lexington, SC, helps families understand their parents disease and the journey ahead. After a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease, families can experience a period of grief or confusion, says Basile. Its important to seek help from healthcare experts in order to know what steps to take next. While a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease may seem ominously final, you and your loved one still have a life to live and choices to make that will ensure they experience the greatest quality of life possible.
Understand the Stages
What Do We Do Now?
As you make preparations for your parents care, consider the following:
Were Here for You
Senior Living with Southern Hospitality
Longevity & Innovation as a Life Plan Community
A Legacy of Service
Dealing With Complex Emotions
Witnessing dementia in a parent is one of the hardest things we face as adults. We see our former caretakers become dependent and disabled, often over a long period of time. Even in the early stages of disease, we confront the vulnerability of someone who at one time we viewed as strong and powerful. The emotional consequences for adult children can seem endless and overwhelming.
Whether we are a direct caregiver or not, there is constant worry and preoccupation. When will mom get worse? Is dad yelling at the nursing aides again? When should we think about memory care? Additionally, one of the most unique aspects of human relationships is that we hold them in mind, and assume they are thinking of us as well. When a parent starts to forget, one of the things we may wonder is how much longer we will remain on their minds. After all, parents are supposed to worry about us, not the other way around.
Some of the hardest things for adult children managing dementia involve balancing worry and the realization that roles have changed. How people cope with these realities depends, in part, on the history of your relationship with your parent.
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Make Sure Your Parent Has Essential Legal Documents
As my mom was showing signs of memory loss, the first thing I did was suggest that she meet with an attorney to update her estate planning documents. I knew this needed to happen quickly because you must be mentally competent to sign documents such as a will, power of attorney and living will.
- A will or living trust spells out who gets your assets when you die. A living trust also can be used to transfer assets while you are living, which can be a useful tool in long-term care planning.
- A power of attorneydocument allows you to name an agent or agents to make financial decisions and transactions for you if you cannot. If your parent names his or her spouse as POA, itâs important to name an alternate POA â such as you, the child â in case something happens to the spouse.
- A living will or advance health care directive allows you to spell out what sort of end-of-life medical care you would or would not want and to name someone to make health care decisions for you if you canât.
Itâs especially important for your parent to have the latter two documents in place before the middle and late stages of Alzheimerâs. At that point, someone will need to be making financial and health care decisions for your parent. If a power of attorney and health care proxy havenât been named and your parent is no longer competent, you or your parentâs caregiver will need to go through what can be a lengthy and expensive court process to be named conservator or guardian.
Give This News A Chance To Sink In
Although it takes time, coming to terms with your parents diagnosis is a critical step in the process of moving forward, not just for you, but for them as well. Currently, Alzheimers does not have a cure and progresses at varying speeds from patient to patient, so its important to acknowledge that the uncertainty associated with this diseases pace can feel like an emotional roller coaster.
This is especially true if you will be taking on a significant amount of the caregiving responsibilities. While your parents health and well-being will understandably be your primary focus during this time, dont forget your own health and well-being as well.
Alzheimers will affect numerous aspects of your life, so its critical you understand that its OK to experience a wide range of emotions, whether it be fear, grief, denial, disbelief, anger, financial stress or virtually anything else.
Discuss your feelings and the situation as a whole with other family members to help keep the situation rooted in reality and remind you of all those available to you and your parent for support.
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Genetic Testing Not Helpful
When a relative is diagnosed with dementia later in life, family members often wonder if they should be tested for the “Alzheimer’s gene.” The short answer is no. “It can be a quick no or a long no, with more explanation, but the answer is nearly always no,” Dr. Marshall says. “It’s not going to be helpful, since it won’t tell you whether you will develop the disease. It will only tell you if you are at a greater or lower risk.”
For Alzheimer’s disease that begins later in lifethe vast majority of casesa gene called apolipoprotein E is associated with greater risk for dementia. If you inherit one copy of APOE4, your risk triples. If you have two copies, your risk is 10 to 15 times higher .
But having APOE4 does not mean you will definitely develop dementia. Among people who age normally into their 70s, about 25% still have one or more copies of the risk gene. Nor does the absence of APOE4 protect you: about 35% of people with Alzheimer’s don’t have one of the risk genes.
This means that if genetic testing reveals that you have one or more copies of APOE4, it will not tell you what you really want to know: will you definitely get Alzheimer’s diseaseor will you not? Knowing that you have the risk gene could instill fear and negatively influence your life decisions.