Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease isn’t easy. The bad news is that Alzheimer’s is not curable. The good news is that the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can last for years in some cases—and you can still live a fulfilling and rewarding life in that time. You also have time to plan, prepare, and make life easier on yourself and your loved ones later on. Here are a few things you should do after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Talk to your doctor about treatment
Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be devastating. However, you can still go on to live a long, productive, and independent life for a long time.
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Talk to your family
Be sure those closest to you understand that you have Alzheimer’s—and know what the symptoms are. Sharing this news can be scary and as devastating to your family as it was to you. But it’s likely your family will want to help you, and the sooner they know, the more prepared they’ll be for the disease’s progression.
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Make a habit of leaving notes
As Alzheimer’s progresses, you will begin to forget important things. If you plan for this ahead of time, you can help yourself cope as this happens. Get into the habit of leaving yourself reminders, such as:
- Writing down a schedule of planned activities for each day.
- Jotting important appointments and events in a calendar.
- Making notes about calls that were received.
- Placing a list of important numbers by the phone.
- Writing down names of people important to you next to their pictures.
- Labeling drawers, cupboards, and boxes to help yourself find things.
Don’t give up the things you love
Dropping your hobbies, social involvements, and other passions could lead to isolation and depression—in addition to Alzheimer’s. Don’t stop doing the things you love. These things can keep your mind active as well as your body, and potentially keep you healthier longer.
Take care of your basic health needs
Be sure to get your vision and hearing checked by a doctor—as some of the confusions that you face could be caused by glasses with an old prescription or a malfunctioning hearing aid. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly at an intensity that’s right for you. If you have trouble cooking on your own, look into a meal delivery service in your community—this can be invaluable in keeping you healthy.
Label your pills
If you take numerous pills several times a day, you may have difficulty remembering which is which as the disease progresses. Create a pill box with clear labels for each of your medications—along with instructions for when to take them.
Know your options for the future
It’s best to look into what you’ll do when you can no longer live independently before you reach that stage. Research assisted living facilities, at-home care, nursing homes, and other preferences earlier rather than later—as you don’t want to make these decisions when you’re in crisis. Assess your financial situation, research your options for more advanced care, and have a plan for what to do when you can no longer remain independent. Discuss your care with a family member or loved one, especially if moving in with this person is an option.
Designate a Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is someone who can make important decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so. You’ll need someone to act as Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions as well as someone to oversee your finances. This can be the same person or different people, depending on your needs. Have a detailed conversation with the person or people you select regarding strategies and priorities—and write down your preferences.
Look into coverage
Do you have long-term care health insurance? Do you qualify for Medicaid? If not, how will you pay for the care you need? Traditional health insurance often does not cover prolonged nursing home stays or in-home care. Research your options for the financial considerations you may come across.
Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be devastating. However, you can still go on to live a long, productive, and independent life for a long time. Take the time to prepare before your condition worsens, and you’re much more likely to live a healthier life.