Whether receiving a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, it is a very difficult time, so much information to take in and lots of changes on the horizon. It can be overwhelming.
Depending on where you are on your journey when the diagnosis takes place, may depend on the amount of information you already have and what is available.
Here we set out a simple list of steps that should be taken upon diagnosis to help you set off on the right path…
Knowledge is Power
You may have had experience with Alzheimer’s or Dementia before, or this may well be your first encounter, either way there may be symptoms that you are not aware of or have not experienced before.
The more you can learn the better. The phrase “forewarned is forearmed” comes to mind. The more we know, the better we can prepare.
There is a lot of support around online, groups, professionals, carers, families and individuals that have also been diagnosed all navigating a similar journey. Linking up with these groups and support can be beneficial mentally and emotionally.
Allow yourself to feel
As we have said, receiving a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, is a very difficult time, so much information to take in and lots of changes on the horizon. Allowing yourself to go through the emotions you are feeling is okay.
You are not superhuman or a robot and taking time to acknowledge and process those emotions is invaluable.
There is no ‘correct path’ of emotions to take and so feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment and disbelief are all natural feelings.
Getting into a Routine
Getting organised and into a routine can really help, not only in terms of getting into good habits but to help set out early where everyone is, what should be done when and to know what is expected when. This is vital as the Alzheimer’s or Dementia progresses as routine and structure will be a necessity.
Alzheimer’s affects memory and so having a structured routine can help keep track of medication, appointments, activities and day-to-day tasks.
Routine can help to reduce stress, anxiety and frustration and increase independence and feelings of security.
Ensure your LEGAL and FINANCIAL affairs are in order
Managing your financial and legal affairs is impossible once capacity is lost.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia does not automatically mean that capacity is lost and so arranging the correct legal authorities are in place, whilst you have capacity to do so is vital.
You may consider reviewing your Will but also putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place so that the person that you choose, and trust, has the authority to deal with your matters (financial, property, health and welfare) when you are no longer able to do so.
We are always happy to have a free chat with you about this – CLICK HERE
Look at what CAN be done
Once a diagnosis is received is very easy to see this as a disabling disease that will only get worse and therefore discount capabilities, activities and all those things that were much loved prior to the diagnosis.
THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THE CASE!
It is so important to consider what can still be achieved, the preferences, opinions and desires of the person living with Alzheimer’s.
A diagnosis doesn’t always mean that a person is incapable and they won’t necessarily lose their desire to carry out those activities that they used to love. Being able to carry this on for as long as is safe can be great for independence, self-esteem not to mention physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Consider a Care Plan
It is inevitable that as the Alzheimer’s or Dementia progresses the need for care will increase, as will appointments with an array of professionals.
There may be a range of people helping with care, loved ones, family, friends and professionals, and a care plan can assist with setting out who is responsible for what, what is expected and when this is expected.
Having a plan for now, as well as having discussions about what may be needed as the condition progresses, and how this could be catered for can save a lot of stress in the future.
Diagnosis is NOT the End
It is natural to feel that there is no light at the end of the tunnel or struggle to see what there is to be grateful for when receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia as the road ahead can seem somewhat bleak and overwhelming however, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Taking into account point 5 above and looking at what can be done means that it is not the end…fun can still be had, knowledge can still be gained and relationships can still develop.
Yes, things will be different but that does not mean it has to be worse.
You are NOT alone
Remember, whether you are the one that has been diagnosed, a loved one or caregiver…you are NOT alone.
There are lots of support groups out there, those that you can attend locally and National support groups that you can access online.
We have a list of upcoming events that maybe local to you on our website HERE.
There are no stupid questions and so we should not be afraid to ask for help or assistance.
Everyone’s journey is different, neither right nor wrong. We all have different experiences and can learn something new.