Dementia is a medical condition; it’s not an identity.
– Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN
Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to provide honest and clear information about the diagnosis of dementia particularly. About the person’s current state and provide anticipatory guidance about what areas of loss and decline can be expected.
But a diagnosis like this impacts everyone in the family. So how to you handle the next few weeks and months as you all make this transition will be important for getting off to a good start.
This week, I will share “4 Tips for Good Care at Home After an Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis”.
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️ Tip # 1: See the Whole Person
First off, remember that dementia is a medical condition – it’s not who you are. Even though things might change, you’re still you.
When someone gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it doesn’t mean they suddenly become different. Sure, there might be some adjustments along the way, but not everything will change all at once. Most folks get diagnosed early, so there’s still much life to enjoy.
I encourage you to learn about the diagnosis – it’s like gathering tools to make informed choices for today and tomorrow. And speaking of tomorrow, staying connected is important.
Here’s the scoop: you’re still the same amazing person you were before. Alzheimer’s might bring some changes, but it’s not the boss of everything. You’ve got plenty of living to do.
So, take it one step at a time, keep learning, stay connected, and most importantly, keep living life to the fullest.
✔️ Tip #2: Encourage Connection
Receiving a diagnosis like Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that life doesn’t stop here. You can take steps to encourage connection between you and your loved one.
Here are some tips to help you both continue living your lives to the fullest:
Stay Engaged: Keep yourself mentally and physically active. Participate in activities you enjoy and find new interests if needed. Staying engaged helps maintain cognitive function.
Stay Connected: Share the diagnosis with friends and family. They can provide the support and understanding you both need. Encourage your loved one to accept invitations and continue socializing.
Support Groups: You’re not alone in this journey. Joining a support group can provide a safe space to share experiences, advice, and emotional support. This connection can positively impact both of you.
Volunteer and Join: Engage in activities that interest you. Volunteering, joining clubs, or taking classes provide a sense of purpose and social interaction.
Maintain Routine: Having a routine can provide a sense of stability. Regularly connecting with loved ones, participating in church activities, or visiting family can create a comforting routine.
✔️ Tip #3: Focus on Strengths and Abilities
Every person with dementia experiences this disease differently. While there will be losses over time, there will also be remaining strengths and abilities at any given time.
Don’t assume that just because the person was given this diagnosis that it automatically means they can’t do things that they used to do, or they can’t make decisions, or they’re no longer able to learn new things.
To help both of you stay aware of this, you can make a list of the skills and abilities the person with dementia still has. Think of two activities that can help guide you: Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) and Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs):
- Using the phone
- Doing laundry
- Managing meds
- Handling money
- Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):
- Bathing or showering
- Moving in and out of bed or a chair
- Using the toilet
Look at these lists every 2-3 months to see which activities the person can still do independently. Write down their progress and share it with your healthcare provider.
Changes might appear first in IADLs before ADLs, and remember, involve the person with dementia in these discussions whenever possible. This way, you work together to understand and adapt to these changes.
✔️ Tip #4:Embrace Well-Being
The concept of well-being encompasses various elements such as identity, connections, security, joy, and self-worth. Importantly, individuals with Alzheimer’s can still experience a sense of well-being, with a shift towards prioritizing emotions over memories.
To promote well-being, the key lies in concentrating on the individual’s feelings rather than fixating on their recollections or current abilities. This approach involves dedicating more time to recognizing their emotional needs and optimizing their strengths and capabilities rather than dwelling on the aspects they may have lost.
A helpful analogy for understanding well-being is to visualize a doughnut. Think of the doughnut’s shape, which includes a central hole. Similarly, people sometimes get caught up focusing on the “hole,” which signifies what’s missing or what someone can no longer do.
Instead, the focus should be on the “doughnut,” representing the strengths and abilities that are still present. This shift in perspective can greatly contribute to fostering a sense of well-being for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
✔️ Unlocking Support: Connect, Engage, and Empower!
Thank you for listening! If you need support, visit my website MelissaBPhD.com for updates on working with me directly. Sign up for my newsletter and follow me on social media for announcements. Like, share, and review to spread valuable information—your engagement matters.
If you have questions, or comments or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
More Resources About Memory And Alzheimer’s Disease …
This Is Getting Old has several other episodes about memory and Alzheimer’s. You can check them out below: