I Have Alzheimer's, Now What?

Jennifer Wegerer
By Jennifer WegererApril 11, 2018

Last Updated: April 11, 2018

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Diagnosis of the disease is life-changing. But finding ways to cope and take care of your emotional needs are just as important as planning for its impending progression.

Learn more about finding support during this time.

I Have Alzheimer’s, Now What?

Anger, denial, depression, fear. These feelings may just be the start of your reaction to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

As the Alzheimer’s Association emphasizes, there is no “right approach” in dealing with your diagnosis. However, identifying and understanding your emotional needs can help you come to terms with your diagnosis.

Educating yourself on the disease and learning ways to reduce your stress are also recommended means for managing life with this disease.

Finding Support After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, many people experience an overwhelming sense of loss. Staying engaged with others and building a support network can help you feel connected and give you a sense of purpose. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that your support network include:

  • A counselor or clergy member who can help you work through your feelings
  • Family and friends with whom you feel comfortable speaking honestly and openly about your feelings
  • Others living in the early stages of Alzheimer’s who can listen to and share similar experiences
  • Your doctor, who can offer a treatment plan that addresses your overall concerns and well-being

Another way to support your emotional health is to keep a journal. Write about the emotional ups and downs and give yourself time to feel sad about the changes the disease will bring.

Learning About Alzheimer’s Disease

Educating yourself on the disease can make you feel empowered and better informed when it comes to decisions about treatments, long-term care options and plans for your future. Other benefits of learning as much as you can about Alzheimer’s include knowing:

  1. How to make your wishes known regarding your finances, power of attorney, care decisions and other issues important to you.
  2. How to participate in clinical trials, if you’re interested.
  3. How to recognize symptoms and develop your own coping strategies.
  4. How to set goals for what you want to accomplish while you still can, if that’s what you decide.
  5. How to share your knowledge of Alzheimer’s with others and help reduce the stigma of the disease.
  6. How to understand drug treatments as well as alternative approaches, such as music and art therapy.

Reducing Stress That Accompanies Alzheimer’s

As much as knowledge and a support network can help you cope with Alzheimer’s, you will inevitably endure stress with each stage. Find ways to relax and take care of yourself so you can maintain a positive state of mind and stay healthy physically. Suggestions for reducing stress linked to Alzheimer’s:

  • Doing something you enjoy, from a favorite hobby to caring for pets
  • Exercising to lower stress and relax your mind
  • Meditating to help you focus on the present without judgment or dwelling on the past
  • Playing music that lowers your anxiety
  • Staying social and planning visits with friends and loved ones
  • Talking about the past, emphasizing positive memories

Taking the above approaches to your Alzheimer’s diagnosis will not stop the disease’s progression. But, they can help you manage the disease and gain a better understanding of what the future holds.

Ultimately, how you approach your Alzheimer’s diagnosis depends on what makes you most comfortable when it comes to your health and well-being.

Do you or a loved one have Alzheimer’s? How did you approach your diagnosis? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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Jennifer Wegerer

Jennifer Wegerer

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