Finding changes from day to day can be a difficult task, especially when noticing a significant difference in someone close to you. How silly that grandma seemed to confuse your birthday with your brother’s, or forgot the last digits of her phone number at dinner last night? She must have been tired. This could be the case- but after too many incidences, it might be best to take your loved one to a doctor. Getting an early diagnosis can help alleviate obstacles and anxieties not only for them but for you and the rest of their support network. Looking at how to get help may be one of the first concerns after getting diagnosed, and with so much material information out on the web, it could be difficult to navigate. Being able to get a diagnosis relatively early is crucial in being able to sort “legal, financial, and long-term planning” to allow fewer anxieties and a better focus on how life goes on (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.). It is also crucial because it can mean the difference between being able to participate in clinical trials or any other currently available treatments (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.). Planning will ultimately help everyone involved know how to navigate this new normal.
In maintaining daily life, the most important course of action is to maintain a daily routine, maybe one similar to before, but adjusted to allow the space for time with a network of those closest to them and other necessities. As a caretaker or family member, it is best to have a clear understanding of what you can do to help at any given time. Whether it be dealing with anxieties or stress, or maybe normal duties like grocery shopping, having honest communication is the key to keeping a routine.
It is important to establish mutual respect in communication, and showing that asking for help is not something to be ashamed of, or to shy away from. It is encouraged for the caretaker to seek this ease and honesty because a person with Alzheimer’s may have some feelings of helplessness, and it is important to be on the same page in which it is alright on both sides. Providing choices for things such as the types of long-term care they feel comfortable with, or choosing to participate in clinical trials helps in respecting their autonomy and sense of self (National Institute on Aging, n.d.). There are many resources available for seeking guidance and help, and that can start with speaking to a doctor early in order to have more choices, and more time to plan.
“Early-Stage Caregiving.” Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/early-stage.
“Getting Help with Alzheimer’s Caregiving.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nia.nih.gov/health/getting-help-alzheimers-caregiving.