After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, both the life of the person diagnosed and the caregiver change. Both of your lives are suddenly consumed with figuring out how to best manage the disease. The following are simple lifestyle changes to help you manage and navigate Alzheimer’s:
Get help as needed
As the disease progresses, daily tasks such as remembering medications and appointments, household chores, cooking, and even driving can become difficult. Write down everything on a calendar, or post your medication schedule on your fridge where you will see it daily. Have your caregiver keep a separate calendar so that it becomes a joint effort to stay on top of things. It is important to remember that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis doesn’t mean all normal activities must cease – they just might require some adjustments. For example, you’ve been cooking for yourself for quite some time now, but you may find that you start to forget important steps, putting your safety at risk. The key is make the necessary adjustments, such as cooking together, so that you can continue to stay involved. Your needs will change daily, so it is up to you and your caregiver to find the best ways to address them.
During the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, it may not be necessary for your caregiver to live with you, thus making it crucial that you ensure your home is safe. Set aside some time for you and your caregiver to work through this safety checklist, which addresses all areas of the home including entryway, kitchen, bedroom, living room, laundry room, garage/basement, and the exterior of your home. It won’t be necessary to make all of these changes at once, but as a caregiver it will be your job to re-evaluate home safety and needs as your loved one’s behavior and abilities change. For example, instead of simply calling to remind your loved one to take their medication, you may need to bring it to them each morning to avoid missing a dose or taking too many. Your loved one’s independence is important to them, but their safety should always come first.
Remember, each and every situation is unique, so it is up to the two of you to navigate this new life journey together with the help of a support network of health professionals, family, and friends. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is scary, but with the right tools and help, it can be managed.