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The First Steps After an Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia Diagnosis

An Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis can trigger a wave of emotions and uncertainties for families. You might not be sure how to respond, what to expect in the future, or what to do next, especially if you will be providing care for your loved one.

Here are 10 steps you should take when an older person in your life has received an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis:

Learn more about your loved one’s condition

Understanding what to expect as your family starts their dementia journey will help you better support your loved one. You’ll also be able to create an informed dementia care plan that fits their needs. The Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario’s First Link® Referral Program offers critical dementia education, resources, and support families need when a loved one is first diagnosed.

Organize their personal information

Communication is key between family caregivers so everyone is on the same page on all matters concerning your loved one’s health. Create a list of medications and keep a record of your loved one’s medical history. Make sure that all caregivers have access to it so it can be referred to quickly or updated in real-time.

Always act with love, kindness, and patience

Your loved one may experience a period of denial shortly after an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis. They may also not fully comprehend what’s happening to them or be full of fear for the future. Always respond to their concerns with love and empathy, so they’ll feel reassured that you’re in their corner.

Prepare for behavioral modifications

Many people with dementia present periods of aggression or confusion they’ve never demonstrated before. Adjusting to these new behaviors can be difficult. However, with effective response strategies such as redirection, you’ll be able to firmly but calmly de-escalate troublesome situations and keep everyone safe.

Engage in activities you’ve always enjoyed together

A dementia diagnosis can be jarring, but your loved one can still feel joy and happiness doing the things they’ve always loved. Focus on activities that stimulate the brain, such as music, art, or even reminiscing over family photographs to trigger memories and spark enjoyment.

Make their home a safe place

Many people with cognitive conditions are prone to falls, so be sure to make the home as safe as possible. Remove all possible fall hazards, such as electrical wires, loose rugs, and other clutter and ensure that the home is always well-lit for safe and easy navigation.

Reassess their ability to drive

Your loved one might feel they can still drive to help stave off fears of losing their independence, but if you or their doctor deems them unsafe to operate a vehicle, their safety at that of everyone else must take priority. Make alternate arrangements for safe transportation so the older adult can still get to medical appointments, go shopping, or attend events.

Start planning for the future

Discussing legal and financial affairs with your parents might be uncomfortable, but it must be done now to prevent difficulties in the future. Create a list of bank accounts, gather tax returns, compile other important documents, and store everything all in one easily accessible place. You should also consider preparing or updating their will, living will, and powers of attorney for medical needs and property. Consult an estate lawyer or certified financial planner to help you prepare for the future. The Government of Ontario’s senior planning web page is another excellent source of information.

Seek support from others

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this. There are online and in-person support groups that can help bring you reassurance, advice, and encouragement from others who have been in your place.

Plan for care

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are progressive cognitive conditions for which there is no cure. Sadly, your loved one will need help as time goes on. Prepare a list of family members and close friends who can share caregiving duties as the condition worsens. If you need additional support or respite care, you can also hire professional in-home support to provide the help you need to ensure your loved one is safe and comfortable while continuing to live independently in their own home.

CareHop would be proud and happy to provide dementia care assistance whenever your family needs it. Please give us a call anytime.

Quality in-home elder care services in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton

CareHop specializes in providing safe, professional eldercare services, including on-demand Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care, that bring peace of mind to
families who need support.

We also offer other in-home elder care services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship that help ensure your loved one gets all the professional care they need.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion to discover how we can help you with safe, cost-effective eldercare solutions.

About the Author

Michael Lu is the founder of CareHop. He started the business inspired by his Grandmother to look at ageing as a happy experience to bring sunshine into the homes of others.

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