Wham! You got the big news, a spouse, parent, loved one, friend, maybe even you – Alzheimer’s diagnosis. You were just going about your life, and now it’s taken a 180 degree turn.
To describe it as overwhelming would be an understatement. It’s easy to enter denial or become frozen with shock.
While there is little that can be done for that beyond a little time, there is some comfort knowing that you’re not alone, you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.
Information! Where do you ask questions? What questions do you ask?
Where do you ask questions?
Where you turn for help largely depends on the help you need.
The initial problem may be you don’t know what help you’ll need.
Initially, you will probably want to know more about the disease, caregiving, financial implications, long-term care, etc. Those subjects are all daunting to the novice.
I could recommend specific resources for each, but for the person first learning of the diagnosis, general information on all subjects is most helpful. For this, it’s hard to beat your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
These agencies support elders within a set community. Their funds come largely from the federal government, authorized by the Older American’s Act (OAA).
The OAA funds go to promote healthy aging, help people understand and apply for programs, and other programs like family caregiver support
Your local Area Agency on Aging has people that are trained and ready to help you. They can asnwer your questions, assess your situation, and refer you to the right people/organizations in your community or state.
My next recommendation is the Alzheimer’s Association itself. Makes sense, doesn't it?
The Alzheimer's Association has an office in every state and they want to help you.
You can find both your Area Agency on Aging and your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association by visiting the ElderGuru’s Resources by State page.
The financial implications may require the assistance of an attorney; however, this is impossible to advise without knowing an individual’s specific disease situation, care needs and financial situation. That being said, for people that can afford them, hiring a private care manager is an option, a Licensed Social Worker or Registered Nurse that helps individuals and families navigate the process.
What questions do you ask?
The only way to determine this is to talk with people, read, research and self-educate.
You’ll need to hear what other people are doing or have done. You should consider connecting with a support group, the Alzheimer’s Association will have a list.
There are a large selection of books available on the subject. You can also do what you’re doing now; visit web sites like Alzheimer’s Reading Room, ElderGuru and others. The best thing about this process is that you find the answer to the question before you knew you should ask it.
I highly recommend support groups. I’ve organized and led them. Many people are reluctant to discuss their personal thoughts and emotions with strangers. They miss out on a valuable exchange of thoughts and ideas. They miss the opportunity to make valuable and lasting friendships.
You'll find that an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming. Don't try and go it alone.
Bob DeMarco is an Alzheimer's caregiver and editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob taught at the University of Georgia, was an executive at Bear Stearns, the CEO of IP Group, and is a mentor. He has written more than 600 articles with more than 11,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.