Welcome to Wednesday Workshop. Today we begin our 4 week series on Becoming a Caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
When a loved one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, at first you may feel overwhelmed. Give yourself time to let the diagnosis sink in. You may have a variety of emotional reactions to the news, including sadness, disbelief, anger and guilt. Once you’ve allowed yourself time to absorb the diagnosis, you will begin the process of becoming a caregiver.
Here are some initial steps you can take first:
Gather Information – Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s so that you can understand the disease process and find creative ways to cope with its symptoms. Talk to your doctor and other health care professionals and read as much literature as you can on the subject.
Talk about health care decisions If your loved one is able, this may be the time to talk about his or her wishes about health care. Is longer life preferable to quality of life? If treatment may prolong life but is accompanied by pain, should the treatment be used? Although these are tough questions, having the documents in place that specifies your loved one’s preferences are important.
Prepare Legal Documents – As soon as possible, make sure your loved one has completed all legal documents as recommended by an attorney that you trust.
Telling Others – At first, your loved one may not want to tell other people about the diagnosis, but as the disease progresses, hiding the diagnosis becomes increasingly difficult since cognitive and behavioral changes become more apparent. When others become more aware of your situation, they’re more likely to lend a hand, particularly if you share with them information about your specific needs.
Providing support in social situations:
Reassure your loved one in social settings by staying close by and stepping in when he or she is unsure of what to do. Some people with Alzheimer’s may feel smothered by overprotective caregivers so be sure to assess how much assistance your loved one may need and try not to exceed that assessment.
Be sure to tune in next week for part two of our series on Becoming a Caregiver, when we discuss your changing roles and responsibilities. In the meantime, you can reach out to the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center by calling us at (877) 760-9199.