When the doctor says that fateful word, “Alzheimer’s”, it can be devastating not only to the patient but also to the family. Once a family member is diagnosed with the condition, the question often is what to do next.
First, get more information. Write down as many questions as you can think of for the next doctor’s visit. Are there more tests to be done? What specialists will be involved? What is the normal progression? What are medication options? The doctor will be happy to get you any information that will help you and the patient.
Next, begin to research national, state, and local support groups, educational sessions, and discussions about Alzheimer’s disease. Knowing others going through the same things that you are can be very helpful. Some groups are for the senior and some are for the family,
Then, talk with a lawyer. Begin preparing estate planning documents and advance directives, such as a will and power of attorney. Although those things are not what you want to think about, it is good to know the senior’s wishes.
Lastly, make a plan to maintain independence. Remove clutter to avoid falls. Consider securing doors to prevent wandering, something that 60% of Alzheimer’s patients do. Discuss having a home nurse stay with the senior at least part-time to give any family caregivers a break.
An Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be worrisome, so take steps to prepare yourself and your loved ones as much as you can.