Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. In a way, that is fortunate. Why? Because if it is recognized early, the person affected can participate in planning for the future and the family can become educated about typical behaviors before they manifest. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for likely outcomes can alleviate a lot of the stress that typically accompanies a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. And, the person with the diagnosis can feel some sense of control over their life as they plan for what is to come. That can be comforting.
The Alzheimer's Association identifies 7 stages of the disease. They have put together a fact sheet to walk you through the decline. They also identify the importance of early diagnosis, how to find an appropriate doctor and what the evaluation process will be like, and what information to have before you go for the doctor visit. Once the diagnosis has been made, the next step is to identify treatment options.
Progressive Changes in Alzheimer's
The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's
The Six Stages of Caregiving for Those With Alzheimer's
In the Early Stage(s), the person will act almost "normal". However, with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, the person may take on a terrible burden of guilt, fear, and anxiety. The Alzheimer's Association is available to help Alzheimer's patients as well as their families and loved ones. This is especially important in the Early years when functioning permits planning and decision making. If your family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, make use of this resource. It will help everyone.
One other potentially very helpful offering is the Message Board and Chat Room hosted by the Alzheimer's Association. There, caregivers and individuals newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's can ask questions, share stories, and/or say what is on their mind. Many find such an outlet therapeutic. And, many find solutions to problems they didn't expect to encounter. It's easy and confidential. Give it a try.
Early Onset - "I'm Too Young To Have This Disease"
Early Onset - What You Should Know, What You Should Do
For the Person With Alzheimer's - Help For Them
Watch Short Movies to Help You Understand
The Early years can be a time of forgiveness, of connection, of sharing, of reminiscing.... Don't let the opportunity to deeply connect or to re-affirm a deep connection pass by.