Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a moment that defines your life, your existence, and most of all your future. Like any disease, every person will react differently however; it’s not only how YOU react when diagnosed but how those around you react also.
It is frightening for all involved; but you must keep lines of communication open and most of all be willing to accept professional help. Alzheimer’s patients deserve to be treated with respect, love, & as part of the family; they are simply humans whose minds work differently due to a disease they did not choose.
First, I highly suggest you download this free Alzheimer’s Disease PDF Fact Sheet which may help explain some of the typical questions and facts about the disease.
- Alzheimer’s Affects the Brain – Abnormal clumps in the brain, referred to as “amyloid plaques” & tangled up bundles of fibers, known as neurofibrillary tangles are actually the 2 most common & main features that result in an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Another brain connectivity problem happens with the loss of connection between neurons (nerve cells) & the brain itself. Combined, this makes the mind/brain unable to process properly.
- Diagnosis Age – while typically Alzheimer’s is diagnosed at age 65+ it is becoming more and more common for early onset Alzheimer’s to be diagnosed as young as 30 years of age; this is considered “early onset Alzheimer’s” and generally affects less than 5% of diagnoses.
- Early Onset Alzheimer’s – It may sound ridiculous but being diagnosed earlier could help change your quality of life going forward. Because of ongoing research and new discoveries there are medications which can slow down the process of Alzheimer’s and treatments are advancing regularly.
What happens after diagnosis?
It’s important to find out all you can about the disease. Ask your physician, contact Alzheimer’s specialists, get in contact with local Alzheimer’s chapters, and most of all DO NOT HIDE from family & friends. You need time as an individual or as a couple to find out all you can but, you also need to allow those you love and care about know what’s happening; mainly because they will eventually see telltale signs that you’re simply not yourself and because they care.
It’s important to find the help of an expert in Eldercare Management who can direct you according to your specific needs & laws. Unfortunately, many things must be talked about when Alzheimer’s is involved & the sooner the better. Things that should be discussed include:
- Living Wills
- Contacting an Eldercare Lawyer or Services
- Power of Attorney
- Finances (any accounts, security boxes, insurance policies, any financial holdings that have your name on it)
- The possibility of living at Home – This will include determining home healthcare, caregiving, and living in your home for as long as possible with various programs available.
- Hospice and End of Life Care
Does Alzheimer’s Cause Death?
Alzheimer’s doesn’t kill… the symptoms slowly take the mind, which leads to an end.
- Infections – Bacterial and viral infections are common for Alzheimer’s patients due to their increased weakness. It is common for patients to die from infections due to a number of causes, including bed sores.
- Urinary Tract Infections – UTI’s or bladder infections go unnoticed because of a patient’s inability to speak and let caregivers know they are having a problem. UTI’s when left untreated can result in an infection and is the leading cause of death in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Aspiration pneumonia – Because of the decreased ability to eat & swallow Alzheimer’s patients to suffer from aspiration pneumonia. The patients lungs can swell allowing food, drink, or saliva to enter the airway, causing aspiration pneumonia; one of the most common causes of death for those with Alzheimer’s.
Generally speaking once the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been given, the best action to take is planning for the future. Finding a skilled caregiver who is trained and bonded is important. There are affordable options that can give your loved one with Alzheimer’s true quality of life.
Photo by DeclanKenny