It's Alzheimer's - What do I do now?
Step 1 -
Educate yourself. Learn what happens as the disease progresses and learn how to deal with the patient in an effective manner. Alzheimer's patients cannot help what they do, nor can they be trained to change. You, the caregiver, have to be the one to change. Your communication style, attitudes and ability to fill the patient's needs, will be reflected in the well being and behaviors of the patient. A good place to start is THE BLUE BOOK - A Practical Guide for Alzheimer's Caregivers
Step 2 -
Tend to legal issues immediately. While the patient is still competent, arrange for a Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, Healthcare Surrogate, and review finances for future health care needs. Visit an elder law attorney for advice on estate planning or the formation of Trusts.
Step 3 -
Find out what resources are available in your community. There are options available to help both, you and the patient.
Step 4 -
Attend a support group. These can be a tremendous help.
Step 5 -
Learn how to care for yourself as a caregiver. Stressed or overtired caregivers are not providing the quality of care they are trying so hard to give.
This diagnosis is not the end of the road for you and your loved one. If you learn the ropes, be flexible, take one day at a time, have patience, keep your sense of humor, and use tender loving care, you can continue to enjoy many special times with your family member.
REMEMBER: The patient does not choose to do or say the things he/she does. The damage to the brain causes these behaviors to occur. It is important to know this fact when your family member speaks to you in a hurtful manner. Repeat to yourself, "This is the disease talking. This is only the disease talking."
Be Kind - Be Loving - Be Understanding - Be Patient