Those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may still function independently. They may still be able to drive, work and be part of social activities. If you are a caregiver to someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your role is to provide support and companionship, while also helping to plan for the future. When your loved one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, it is life changing for him or her and for you as well. Here are some issues you may both face:
• Telling others about the diagnosis: This is one of the most difficult steps. There may be anxiety surrounding who you should tell and the social stigma. Be open with your family and friends about the changes that are taking place. Educate them on the disease and share with them how they can be supportive to you and your loved one.
• Life changes: The changes might be small at first, then you will start to notice that your loved one will start to have different needs that he or she did not have before the diagnosis. Your support is critical. You will need a support system in place as well. You may feel anxiety over how your relationship may change or feel distanced from friends and family. Remember that you are not alone and that help is available.
• Planning for the future: It’s very important to have a discussion now about things that will have to be addressed later. One of the most important things you can do is to help your loved one get legal, financial and care plans in place. This will allow him or her to share his or her future decisions, and also allow time to work through the complex issues that are involved in long-term care.
• Staying engaged: People with early-stage Alzheimer’s want to stay as engaged and active as possible for as long as possible. You can help foster this by encouraging your loved one to become more involved in daily life and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Have him or her spend time with family and friends. Make sure you both eat well, exercise and see the doctor regularly.
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.