Doctors Recommend People Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease Do These 15 Things
Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans each year. One of the leading causes of death in the United States, it’s a diagnosis no one ever wants to hear — though many people, even some younger than 65, do.
If you’re still trying to make sense of a new dementia diagnosis — or you’re trying to help support someone who is — you’re not alone, or without hope. Doctors recommend a long list of things you can do right now to cope and prepare, while still enjoying every minute you have.
Get the right information
There’s a lot of information out there — and with that, plenty of misinformation — about Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the information your doctor provides, consider trusting sources like the Alzheimer’s Association to help you learn more about your health.
Next: This is one of the most important steps you can take early on.
You can’t — and shouldn’t — do this alone. Whether you’re someone trying to make sense of a new diagnosis or you’re watching someone you love go through it, find support. Lean on family, friends, and even members of a local support group. Even if you don’t think you need extra support, it can’t hurt.
Next: Your primary care doctor won’t be enough.
See a specialist
If your primary care physician hasn’t already referred you to a specialist, you can ask for recommendations. Neurologists, for example, are best equipped to help treat diseases of the brain and nervous system.
Next: Ask yourself where you need help the most.
Assess your immediate needs
It’s time to do an honest assessment of your immediate needs. Are you able to drive safely? Fix your own meals? Have someone you know go over these things with you. Your safety and well-being are important, even if you’re hesitant to admit you can’t do it all yourself anymore.
Next: Your safety matters. Make it a priority.
Make sure you’re living in a safe environment
Just because you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t mean you can’t still live on your own. In fact, you can remain completely independent as long as you are safe doing so. Make sure there’s someone you can rely on to check in on you, though, to make sure you remain safe where you are.
Next: This part can be scary and overwhelming, but it’s best to do it sooner rather than later.
Finalize your legal documents
While you’re still healthy, it’s very important to organize and finalize all your legal documents with a lawyer who specializes in cases like yours. This might include your will, advanced directives, and appointing a power of attorney you trust.
Next: Don’t let the stress get to you.
Practice good stress management
This is likely a very stressful time in your life, for both you and those around you. Stress can be harmful to both your body and your mind, which is why it’s so important — maybe now more than ever — to do your best to maintain control of it. Relax with these stress-free tips.
Next: It’s very important that you keep doing this one thing.
Stick to your everyday routines
Doctors recommend that people still adjusting to the reality of their Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis should stick to living life they way they have been. If you get up at a certain time every day or shop for groceries the same day every week, keep doing that. It’s important to keep as many things familiar as possible.
Next: Can you train your brain not to forget?
Play brain games
Most of the brain training apps that claim to keep your brain sharp actually don’t. But there are some brain games that help you mentally “exercise” your brain. It could be as simple as reciting the street names around your neighborhood on your way home, without reading the signs.
Next: Don’t avoid this habit amidst your new diagnosis.
Fitness is an essential part of health at every point in your life. You can still continue — or begin — your exercise routine and keep yourself feeling good. Just make sure you avoid exercises that might be too dangerous for your age.
Next: Eat plenty of these foods.
Eat plenty of ‘brain food’
You may not be able to age backwards, or reverse Alzheimer’s disease after your diagnosis. But eating a “healthy brain” diet can’t hurt. Filling your plate with foods like oatmeal and grilled chicken can help you make the most of your brain while it’s still healthy.
Next: Don’t let this embarrass you.
Ask for help
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it — even if you’re tempted to convince yourself you don’t. It’s much easier for others to assist you when you express your needs. You aren’t helpless — you just need a little more support than you used to.
Next: Appreciate the people who support you.
Care for your caregivers
Those who care for you as your condition progresses can’t forget to care for themselves also. Remind them of this as often as you can; love them as much as they love you. If you’re caring for someone with any form of dementia, here’s how you can offer your support.
Next: Use your doctor as a resource.
Ask your doctor anything
They’re the best person to contact with medical questions and concerns. No concern is too small. If you notice your symptoms are getting worse, or there’s something you want to know about your medications or other treatment options, they’re always happy to help.
Next: Keep close those who matter most.
Spend time with family and friends
Surround yourself with people you love, and those who love you in return. Social support comes in many forms. Often times, the best thing people can do for you is to be there. Spend time doing the things you love with the people who matter most, and create memories that will live on in their hearts and minds forever.
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