Alzheimer’s Disease impacts millions of senior adults. A form of dementia that causes memory loss and diminished problem-solving abilities, the degenerative nature of Alzheimer’s is difficult for those suffering from it as well as those that care about them.
How do you provide your aging loved one with the best possible support? If you are providing care for an elder adult with Alzheimer’s, part of helping him or her will involve helping others to understand what he or she is going through. Let us go over some ways to do this.
Set some ground rules. The period after an Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis can be fraught with uncertainty and emotion. An elder loved one may not want other people to know about the diagnosis while struggling to come to terms with the implications. He or she may never want to talk about it with others. In any case, discuss how your loved one would like to proceed. Keep in mind that family and friends may already have a sense that something is wrong. If the elder adult is already unable to make his or her own decisions, ask his or her legal decision-maker about thoughts on what is best.
Tell others in the support community. Once it is decided how and when to communicate the diagnosis, informing family, friends, and other people should involve differing degrees of information. For close relatives and friends, educate them about Alzheimer’s Disease and its impacts. Talk about symptoms, dispel myths, and let them know that the elder adult is going through changes they cannot control. Answer questions and share educational resources to help them better understand. Consider informing acquaintances and others to the extent that it helps explain the elder adult's behavior.
Educate others. As a caregiver, you may be attuned to what your elder loved one can and cannot manage, especially as the disease progresses. Teaching others how to interact with them appropriately can be key. For example, ask others to reintroduce themselves periodically and to abstain from correcting the elder patient. Remind family and friends that social stimulation is healthy, as it provides mental exercise and helps mitigate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Then, model how to do it.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and advocates across the health care, nonprofit, and legal communities are offering support for Alzheimer's patients, caregivers, and families impacted by the disease. If you or someone you know would like more information or guidance about related legal matters, schedule a meeting with our firm. We are committed to serving our clients through providing resources and legal counsel on matters related to elder care.