When a family member or friend receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, there are often a mix of emotions and many questions.
Here are ten first steps that you can take to support your loved one and yourself. Don’t try to do all within the first day, or even the first week. What’s most important is to start making plans and connections that will help you and your family through your Alzheimer’s journey.
- Find people you can talk to for support and information. Join a dementia support group. Try not to blame yourself or the person with dementia. Talking to others will help you get through this.
- Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter or a local support group. Consider enrolling your family member in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return® Program, which helps find people with dementia in the event that they wander off and become lost.
- Inform other family members. Involve them in the decision-making and planning processes. Consider involving the most appropriate family members first, bringing in others as needs arise.
- Educate yourself and your family about the disease, caregiving needs and available options. Consult educational resources such as the Alzheimer’s Association or sign up for our weekly email series for caregivers.
- Safety-proof your house, and restrict the family member’s access to driving a car.
- Discuss medications for dementia as well as other health issues and general health maintenance with your family member’s doctors. Additionally, explore non-drug treatments for dementia-related issues.
- Consider your own health—always make sure to take care of yourself. Try to get regular exercise, sleep, and relaxing moments to yourself. Find the things that bring you joy or happiness and seek them out. Try to keep your sense of humor.
- Find activities that you and your family member can still enjoy and make time for those activities.
- Review the state of your family member’s finances, insurance, and health resources. Try to anticipate medical and financial issues. Seek advice from a lawyer regarding powers of attorney, wills, insurance, and other legal matters. Consider meeting with a financial planner regarding finances.
- Develop a long-term plan of action for treatment and care. Consider whether at-home care, paid residential care, or a nursing home works best for you, your family, and your loved one with dementia.