We have a lot to learn about what causes Alzheimer’s Disease. It may be genetic or have something to do with our environment. What’s for sure is that, in its early stages, it’s pretty easy to go undetected or be mistaken for another disease.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, symptoms become even more serious. A loved one may lose total awareness of their surroundings, lose the ability to communicate, and require around-the-clock care. There are many ways to handle a late diagnosis. However, embracing these common steps will guarantee you and your loved one’s relief:
Accept the diagnosis.
Monica Moreno is a senior care specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association. She says, “While the individual living with the disease is the only person who can change how he or she feels about the diagnosis, you can share information and provide support to help with the process of acceptance.”
Accepting a late diagnosis is a process for the patient and everyone else involved. Get in touch with trusted relatives or any other people who should know what is going on with your loved one. Set up a phone call, video conference, or intimate in-person gathering to share what’s taking place with your loved one. Depending on the stage of the diagnosis, your loved one may or may not be able to communicate their needs or wishes.
Find a support group.
You’ll need a support system to keep you going through the difficult and uncertain moments ahead. There are hundreds of support groups available in your local area. If you’re in Washington, D.C., for example, there are in-person and telephone services available every month. If you’re in Seattle, similar services are available through the State Department of Social and Health Services. The Healthy Aging Clinic at UC Davis Health in Sacramento offers community programs, too. Check the Eldercare Locator or the Family Caregiver Alliance or Meetup for more resources.
Make a decision about late-stage care.
Late stage care varies based on age, location, and financial resources. According to Moreno, care costs can include:
- Ongoing medical treatment for Alzheimer’s symptoms, diagnosis and follow-up visits
- Treatment or medical equipment for other medical conditions
- Safety-related expenses, such as home safety modifications or safety services
- Prescription drugs
- Personal care supplies
- Adult day services
- In-home care services
- Full-time residential care services
It’s a good idea to get as much information you can about what is available to your loved one. The National Institute on Aging has legal and financial planning documents. The Alliance on Aging, Inc. provides services without an income eligibility requirement. Similar organizations like these exist in St. Louis and other cities.
Think about your needs.
Black caregivers are more likely to provide more than 40 hours of care to Alzheimer’s patients per week, according to a 2021 study. Your care is just as important as your loved ones. What will your needs be and how will you meet them? If you are considering becoming a formal caregiver, then review The Caregivers series for information about self care.
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