Suspecting a loved one has Alzheimer’s is anxiety-inducing, but the official confirmation from a GP or neurologist is life changing.
From that moment on, it’s important to have current, accurate and easy-to-access information about Alzheimer’s, what to expect and the best means of supporting the well-being of both the individual diagnosed, as well as his/her team of caregivers.
While an adjustment period is understandable, we recommend taking action as quickly as you can in order to create a long-term care plan that resonates with current research and findings pertaining to Alzheimer’s care best practices.
Upon getting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you have much to explore and consider, including:
- Diet modifications
- Lifestyle changes
- Cognitive therapy
- Memory care options
- And more
The sooner you do this, the more involved the patient can be with making decisions that will impact the rest of his/her life.
Locate High-Quality Online Alzheimer’s Resources
There is a myriad of results when you search, “Alzheimer’s Care” or “Alzheimer’s Research,” but not all resources are created equal.
The most accurate and relevant information available online is typically provided via national organizations and well-known non-profits (usually website addresses ending with .org, .gov or .edu).
The more you learn about Alzheimer’s, the better your decision-making process. Also, you are your loved one’s greatest advocate. Well-meaning physicians, nurses, and caregivers do their best, but there’s a chance that something you’ve learned will be essential to improving your loved one’s care and overall outcomes.
Here are some of our favorite, online resources about Alzheimer’s, memory care and the latest research/findings.
The National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has several sub-entities under its umbrella; one of these is the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
The NIA has an incredibly thorough webpage that covers all manner of age-related diseases and conditions, and their page dedicated to Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias is a great place to begin learning more about Alzheimer’s and the current treatments at your own pace.
Their website has easy-to-read (and share) pages on the basics of Alzheimer’s, as well as the various forms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is important because medications, treatments, and care can vary depending on the type of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
For example, while the symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the wrong medications can worsen the patient’s experience and symptoms if it is misdiagnosed and treated using more standard Alzheimer’s treatments.
The Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association was founded specifically to eliminate Alzheimer’s via high-quality research.
It’s a voluntary organization and, in addition to information about Alzheimer’s as well as the latest research and upcoming trials, the AA also works to connect those affected by Alzheimer’s in the Richmond, VA area with< a href=”https://www.thememorycenter.com/alzheimers-support-group-at-the-memory-center-richmond/”> the support they need.
The AA is a joint venture, including the work of healthcare professionals, caregivers, and family members just like you. To date, the Alzheimer’s Associations has provided support for millions of people nationwide.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
One of the most effective resources offered by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is their Alzheimer’s Support Hotline (866-232-8484).
This toll-free number is staffed 24/7, by licensed clinical social workers who specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. Speaking with them can feel like a lifeline, especially for those who are newly navigating the vast array of information out there, or who have yet to confide in family members and friends.
AFA is also non-profit and is dedicated to spreading the word that a proactive approach to Alzheimer’s has a significant effect on slowing down its progression and relieving or diminishing symptoms.
They also provide FREE and confidential memory screenings in Richmond and nationwide.
Alzheimer’s Support From Family & Friends
Often, those who are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – as well as their spouses – decide to hide what they know for the time being.
The problem with this is multi-fold; first, it’s confusing for family and friends who are noticing the same signs and symptoms as you did but without any explanation or further insight.
Secondly, your family and friends are an invaluable resource as you begin to learn more about the disease and when it comes to providing certain aspects of care – as well as respite care.
We recommend reading our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, as it covers important information about the communication and decision-making processes, as well as tips on how to include family and friends.
Research Memory Care Options
As mentioned above, research shows that those with Alzheimer’s and dementia do notably better when provided with dedicated memory care.
In most circumstances, those with Alzheimer’s have the best outlook and highest quality of life when they move to memory care communities sooner, rather than later. This enables individuals time to settle in, feel comfortable, and adjust to their new home while they still have the ability to make decisions for themselves.
Assisted Living Options
If you’re considering an assisted living facility, make sure they offer a separate wing or sections specializing in memory care so your loved one doesn’t wind up becoming part of their general residential population – the large majority of which have a different set of needs.
Use, How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities, as a guide to better weigh each prospects’ offerings.
Inevitably, the first level of care provided for those with Alzheimer’s takes place in the home via the loving attention of a spouse, family members and/or friends.
However, caregiving is an all-consuming job, and the needs of the patient will quickly deplete the energy levels and well-being of the care providers if they don’t take care of themselves.
Respite care is a must-have resource for anyone who is an immediate caregiver for a spouse or loved one with Alzheimer’s. This service is available via home care aides, adult daycare centers or memory care centers offering drop-in or short-term residential options.
Make respite care a priority from the beginning so you can take care of yourself, observe routine appointments and enjoy well-deserved breaks and traditional family vacations.
Memory Care Centers
It used to be that assisted living or nursing home options were the only resources available when the level of care required moved beyond what was possible at home.
Over the course of the past decade, however, research has shown that dedicated memory care centers – assisted living options wholly tailored to improving outcomes for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia – provide greater quality of life and improved outcomes for both patients and their families.
Furthermore, we’ve learned that transitioning into memory care communities sooner, rather than later, is beneficial for all because it decreases the high-level of stress and the lack of autonomy for the patient that transpires when families wait until they are in crisis.
By moving during the later-beginning or mid-stages of Alzheimer’s, the patient can settle in, learn their way around and create their own sense of community before the disease progresses.
Most memory care centers offer in-house doctors and nurses, licensed staff, pharmacies and innovative resources that minimize the need for off-site appointments that become agitating for residents as their condition progresses.
High-quality memory care centers adhere to Dementia Care Practices and provide ample “normal life” routines via amenities like the town center concept, which markedly improve the residents’ quality of life.
Read, Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities, to learn more about what you should be looking for when choosing the right memory care for your loved one.
Alzheimer’s Care And Support in Richmond
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis requires quick action to enable you the time to research and learn about the available care and support options for your loved one.
You’ll soon find that such a progressive disease can be faced head-on, with dignity, given the right resources and support.