You may have suspected, but now you know for sure. It is a scary and uncertain time, but there are some things you can do now and into the future to make things a little easier as you advocate and provide care for your family member.
Help your loved on to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. So encourage mom or dad to join an exercise class. Maybe grandma can do some gardening.
Learn as much as you can about the disease. Knowledge is power. You will often feel overwhelmed. Staying one step ahead will help you to come to grips with what is happening and help you to prepare as changes occur.
Help your family member to make good nutritional choices. My mother would have eaten Reese’s Cups 24/7 had I allowed her. A balanced diet may help to diminish extremes in mood and help to keep some of those other aches and pains at bay. How would you Prepare if you Knew Sooner About Alzheimer’s Disease?
Consider legal/financial issues. Nobody wants to talk about it, but you may, at some point have to take over legal/financial responsibilities. Try to broach the subject while things are going fairly well. It’s very difficult to be a good caregiver/advocate if you are legally unable to make certain types of decisions.
Consider treatment options carefully. Although, to date, there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, there are medications. Learn about them and their interactions with other medications that your family member may be taking.
Consider safety options. Observe them as they cook, get in and out of the shower/bath, drive, etc. It may be time to install bars in the bathroom, get a place all on one floor or have meals delivered.
Learn to communicate with someone who might not always be logical. This is a tough one. Speak in simple, clear, direct sentences. You are not talking with the same person you were talking with five years ago. All of the common sense and logic in the world may do nothing to change your grandmother’s mind.
Be as honest as you can for as long as you can with the one who has Alzheimer’s. Your loved one needs to know that you, as the primary caregiver, can be trusted.
Consider long term care options. It may be taboo, but better to consider and plan and never need it, than get caught in an emergency and have to take your 2nd, 3rd or 9th choice because of long waiting lists.
Take care of you (get active, eat right, take time to relax). This should be number ONE. If you are depleted, you are no good to anyone. Take time for yourself. Enjoy a sport, watch a movie and find ways to be thankful for the honor it is to provide care for someone who can’t do it for themselves. And if you do run into health issues, start here for resources and information.