An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a game changer. It changes everything about the individual’s life, as well as the lives of all of those around them. It is very difficult to know how to act or react because it seems as though your loved one is changing right before your eyes. But, there are a couple of tips that come directly from the mouths of Alzheimer’s sufferers that they want to make sure you, as a loved one, will remember.
It’s Still Me. It is easy to forget that behind the memory loss, mood swings and behavioral changes, that the same person that you have loved and have known your whole life is still in there. Oftentimes, patients become defined by their diagnosis and it destroys the remaining time left for both the patient and their family and friends. Don’t forget the things that they love. If it is live music, they still love it. If it is sporting events, they still love it. Be sure to continue to engage them in any and all ways possible.
I’m Okay. A lot of online advice has to do with keeping the patient active, changing their diets and keeping them involved with people. While these pieces of advice are definitely beneficial, the early diagnosis is still a time when the patient can determine what is best for them. If they have lived a life where they enjoy alone time, it is actually detrimental to force them to do these sorts of things they are uncomfortable with. Be sure to be sensitive to the things you are trying to force upon them. Are they things that your loved one would enjoy even before their diagnosis? This is a good baseline.
Stay Positive. It seems like everything has gone wrong. The decline of the patient’s health and ability to do things drastically decreases. It is easy to only pay attention to how things are getting worse and catastrophize the situation. Be sure the remember that as many things are going wrong, there are equally as many that are still fine. Help your loved ones pay attention to the positives instead of harping on the negatives.
Your Visits Count. Even though as the disease progresses, your loved one may not recall your visit or even your identity, it is still important to them that you spend time with them. Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that the patient is incapable of meaningful relationships or that they no longer need relationships. Your loved one might need you more! Be sure to keep up the visits and keep your loved one involved in your life and what is going on. It will mean a lot to them.
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