What To Do After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

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REAL Services and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Northern Indiana are the only premiere organizations dedicated to helping Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their families. Find out how they can help you today.

By: REAL Services + Home Comfort Experts

Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can lead to a whirlwind of emotions that may be overwhelming. However, there are a number of steps you can take in order to learn more about yourself and the impact the disease will have that can help you.

1. Get a second opinion

While some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are well known, there are actually 120 different health conditions that mimic dementia, so get a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis. You could actually have an easily treated condition, such as a urinary tract infection.

Physicians knowledgable of dementia typically go through a number of tests to rule out other potential causes of your dementia-like symptoms before actually coming to a conclusion. It’s always helpful to have a second opinion.

2. Remember that you haven’t lost all control

Once your diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is confirmed, you can begin to prepare for life with the disease and realize that there are ways in which you can possibly slow it down. 

This includes taking doctor-prescribed medications and working through brain-stimulating, task-oriented activities. Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Northern Indiana, a division of REAL Services, can help you find support groups and activities to help you keep your brain healthy for as long as possible.

RELATED: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Alzheimer’s and Dementia

3. Start taking the necessary safety precautions

As Alzheimer’s disease begins to impact more aspects of your life, it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions and, better yet, make loved ones aware of them as well. 

For instance, at some point in time, driving will no longer be an option and difficult home layouts could be an issue down the road. Pools and fire hazards can also become more dangerous once you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Have these conversations with your family early so that they know your preferences for how to help you down the road.

You may also enroll in Project Lifesaver, a GPS-enable device that allows loved ones to keep track of you if you ever get lost or wander off. Call 1-877-580-LIFE to find out how to enroll.

4. Make a plan for informing family and friends

One of the most difficult aspects of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is informing your loved ones of the changes you have already started to experience. 

RELATED: The Important Lesson This Michiana Man Learned After His Wife’s Dementia Diagnosis

Figure out as soon as possible how you’d like to inform everyone, and don’t be afraid to let a spouse or another close family member take the lead on gathering your family and friends. 

While Alzheimer’s will have the most noticeable impact on yourself, it will also affect your entire family. The sooner everyone can get on the same page to prepare for that reality, the better. 

5. Learn the other symptoms of Alzheimer’s

While memory loss is a well-known side effect of Alzheimer’s disease, there are actually several other symptoms you should be aware of.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can also lead to mood swings, difficulty following storylines, personality changes, an inability to concentrate, disorientation and trouble communicating. Be prepared for these changes — and let your loved ones know too.

RELATED: These Are The 5 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

6. Meet with an elder law attorney

It’s uncommon for attorneys to specialize in elder law, but it’s still important to talk to one as soon as possible. 

Attornies that specialize in elder law know about more than setting up a trust. They can start to resolve the power of attorney and help you start to navigate constantly-changing Medicaid laws.

RELATED: 4 Tips For Navigating Medicare and Medicaid

The best way to ensure that your wishes and preferences about major decisions like healthcare and when you may need to move into a memory care facility is to work with a lawyer to set up those plans now.

7. Don’t make too many drastic changes to your home after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

While it’s important to make a note of and prepare for any potential safety hazards, you’ll also want to make sure you don’t change your home too much after you receive a diagnosis. 

Your short-term memory will be one of the first things impacted by Alzheimer’s, so the more familiar you are with your home and its decorations, the easier it will be on you in the long run. 

RELATED: 11 Ways To Make Your Home Easier To Navigate for Alzheimer’s Patients

8. Reach out to organizations that can help

No matter how much you and your loved ones prepare for Alzheimer’s disease, it’s still a daunting undertaking, but it’s not one you have to go through alone. 

Organizations such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Northern Indiana, a division of REAL Services, can help you and your family navigate the mental and physical challenges of memory loss, while also connecting you with invaluable resources and services. 

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, REAL Services is here for you. Call 574-284–7102 or 1-800-552–2916 or visit the REAL Services website to learn about local resources, ask questions and receive help.

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