Last week we discussed Alzheimer’s warning signs and what to do if you notice them in yourself or a loved one. This week we are going to talk about what it is like to be a newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s patient. Going to see a physician to address the possibility of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not an easy thing, but it can provide a sense of relief.
Diagnosis Allows for Planning
Some patients in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease said that a diagnosis brought them a sense of validation regarding the symptoms they had been experiencing, a silver lining amidst a dark cloud. Although a diagnosis triggers a myriad of emotions, putting a name with problems allows you to confront something you may not have understood.
Discovering that you have Alzheimer’s is likely a shock for most as your entire life changes in a matter of moments. Patients can feel isolated, depressed, resentful and afraid (among other things) as you learn the rest of their life will be far different than anything you had imagined.
Facing the Challenge
It is natural and common to be overwhelmed and stunned by a revelation of this magnitude. As a patient you are the only one that can change the way you feel about the diagnosis. Confronting these feelings is necessary to accept the diagnosis and move forward to find new ways of living a life of fulfillment.
Telling Your Loved Ones
People living with the early stages of Alzheimer’s say the best thing you can do for yourself is being active and not waiting for others’ help. The first step for many will be sharing the diagnosis. Hiding your disease will likely create obstacles on the road to acceptance. Alzheimer’s patients have the responsibility of sharing the diagnosis with certain individuals such as your parents, partner, or spouse. Deciding who else to include depends on the nature of your relationship. Will that person continue to support you; do you feel close to them?
Family and friends should be just one component of your support system. There are programs and groups specifically for people living with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. And do not forget to use your doctor. Your physician is an important part of your network. Feeling overwhelmed and stunned by your diagnosis may cause you to leave without asking important questions. Once you have gathered yourself make a list and call your physician’s office.
Living alone can be especially challenging for a senior with Alzheimer’s. Be sure to make arrangements for any assistance you may need. Even someone whom has never struggled to prepare meals, drive or keep an orderly home may struggle once the disease progresses.