Important Answers to Common Questions After an Alzheimer's Diagnosis
Posted: 11/6/2019 8:00 AM by
Alzheimer’s is the fifth-leading cause of death among those age 65 and older and is also a leading cause of disability and poor health. With 5.8 Americans living with this disease, and a projected 14 million expected to be facing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis by 2050, more families are struggling to understand and work through this devastating illness.
Here at Interim HealthCare, we understand the emotions and stress your family feels after a senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzhemer’s. In honor of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, let’s walk through some of the most common questions you may have after that diagnosis, along with answers to help you move forward:
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, there is no cure or way to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease; however, there are treatment options available that can help treat symptoms and improve quality of life. Be sure to discuss these and any other treatments with your loved one’s doctor. These treatments may include:
Your loved one’s doctor may prescribe a medication to lessen the severity of memory or confusion symptoms for a time.
Eliminating triggering behavior
Behavior changes and outbursts associated with Alzheimer’s disease may be mitigated by eliminating triggers for those behaviors.
Difficulty sleeping or changes to sleep patterns are common among Alzheimer’s patients. Behavior changes and medications may help to alleviate symptoms.
What could we have done to prevent this disease?
While doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, research suggests the following may help prevent the onset of this disease:
Research suggests that 30 minutes of moderate exercise a few times per week can help prevent the development of or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, olive oils, omega 3 fatty acids, and low in red meat has been shown to help prevent or slow the progression of this disease.
New research supports the notion that getting 7 or 8 hours of quality sleep per night can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Although the evidence isn’t as conclusive as that for exercise, diet and sleep, cognitive exercise (e.g., learning new things) and staying social may also help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
How can our family help Mom or Dad throughout the course of this disease?
Following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it’s important to arm yourself (and members of your family) with as much information as possible. The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for information on the latest treatments, studies and more surrounding this debilitating disease.
Staying in touch and providing emotional support for your loved one is also critical. While you are suffering, your loved one is grappling with a life-defining diagnosis, and your support is crucial. You may also consider joining a support group for families going through an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Your loved one’s doctor may be able to provide some resources, or you can even check Meetup.com for groups in your area.
Align family members and friends as needed to help Mom or Dad stay healthy and safe at home. A trusted home care provider with experience assisting Alzheimer’s patients can also provide critical medical care that complements the care provided by you and your loved ones.
What will happen next?
Your loved one may need a new doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s care after his or her initial diagnosis. Depending on how far the disease has progressed, the doctor’s recommendations, suggested treatments or level care will vary.
It’s important to ask many questions and if needed, take notes during any and all doctor’s appointments. This way, you can refer back to your notes after appointments and ask any follow-up questions as needed.
As the disease progresses, you may need to regularly assess the level of care needed by your loved one to keep him or her safe and healthy. As mentioned above, be sure to tap into a support system, and stay in touch with the Alzheimer’s Association to understand the latest research, findings and news around the disease.
How many healthy years will we have with my loved one?
The lifespan of an Alzheimer patient averages between 3 and 11 years following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, although some patients live an additional 20 years. The level of progression at diagnosis can heavily influence the prognosis for your loved one. Your loved one’s doctor can provide more insight to help you through this difficult time.
We are here to help.
At Interim HealthCare, we’ve been providing specialized home care to patients across the country for over 50 years. Our specialized care helps Alzheimer’s and dementia patients stay safe and healthy at home for as long as possible. Learn more about our specialized care, then contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location to take the next step.