Topics: Alzheimer's and Dementia

My Parent Has Alzheimer’s Disease. Where Do I Start?

Sep 8, 2014 1:46:00 PM | by Roger Clark

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is devastating. It sets in motion a series of choices and adjustments that are life-changing. 

Many decisions need to be considered after the initial diagnosis. These three questions will help you make the best choices possible for the care of your loved one.

1. What are the facts?

Learning as much as you can about the disease will not make it go away, but it will give you valuable insight into treatment options and lifestyle adjustments. Getting the facts is a helpful way to gain control of the situation and outline next steps. While you cannot change the ultimate outcome, you do have the ability to make things as easy as possible when you have accurate information. Your physician is a good place to start. The Alzheimer’s Association has an excellent website with resources to support you as you face the various stages of the disease and consider treatment options (www.alz.org).

2. Who can I talk to?

Not only does the person who receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease go through a grieving process, family members do also. Those who are going be caregivers are looking at a significant change in their lifestyle as the disease progresses. Having safe people to talk with helps relieve emotional and physical pressures. Physicians, counselors, therapists and ministers are equipped to enable you to manage your own responses to your loved one and the disease. Friends and family are a valuable support system. Keeping feelings bottled up is almost certain to ultimately affect your own health.

3. Is our family in agreement?

This can be the most difficult adjustment. Someone will take the role of caregiver. If a spouse is still living and in good health, it will fall to them to arrange for care and make healthcare decisions. If that is not possible, an adult child will have to take charge. It is important that the family agree upon who will be responsible for the day-to-day care of their loved one. Getting financial affairs in order can be one of the most contentious parts of this journey. Agreement upon a power of attorney and healthcare representative is the first step.

As Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, asking and answering these three questions will help you be the best caregiver you can be.