If you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain. But by recognizing important next steps to take, you can survive the diagnosis — and even thrive.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain. But by recognizing important next steps to take, you can survive the diagnosis — and even thrive.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s is scary, and it likely will change your life in a number of ways. Feeling a variety of emotions — including anger, grief, fear and denial — is perfectly normal. Once you acknowledge your feelings, you can begin to take action.

Try to find healthy ways to cope with your emotions, including writing in a journal, speaking honestly with loved ones, or joining either an in-person or online support group. If strong, negative feelings linger over a period of time, talk to your doctor; you may be suffering from clinical depression or anxiety.

Seek Out Accurate Information

Getting correct information about your condition is critical. Random web searches can turn up all kinds of misinformation. Instead, look for a medical professional with experience in treating dementia.

Also, consider checking in with reputable organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and the Alzheimer’s Association. These groups and others can connect you with professionals and other resources in your area as well as provide a variety of educational materials.

Communicate with Your Doctor

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of working with a highly skilled medical provider you trust. Your doctor should possess a high level of knowledge about your condition and should communicate openly with you.

You likely will have many questions about your condition. Consider making a list of questions for your doctor, including:

  • What is my specific diagnosis?
  • Is it possible that my form of dementia can be reversed? If so, how?
  • How much has my dementia progressed? How quickly will it progress going forward?
  • What medications might be helpful?
  • Are there treatments I can try that do not require medicines?
  • How do you recommend I change my lifestyle to help me with my condition?
  • Is it safe for me to continue living in my home?

Make Home a Comfortable, Safe Space

After getting your doctor’s advice on your living situation, make changes and upgrades that could keep you more secure and comfortable as your condition progresses. Take a look at things like lighting, stairs and objects that could become tripping hazards.

In addition, consider whether a move to a senior living community might be right for you. You’ll find a variety of options — including assisted living and memory care — that can meet your specific needs.

Focus on Your Well-Being

Your overall health will be more important than ever as you cope with your Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis. Be sure to pay attention to your personal wellness, including eating right and staying active. By moving regularly and getting the nutrition you need, you take important steps toward keeping your body and mind healthy.

Reducing stress can also play a vital role in dealing with your diagnosis. Consider trying some tension-relieving activities like meditation, tai chi, yoga or massage.

Be Optimistic

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not feel like a stroke of luck, but the truth is, knowledge of your condition allows you to begin taking positive steps. By dealing with your emotions, seeking reliable information, focusing on your total well-being, working with an experienced doctor, and evaluating your living situation, you improve your ability to thrive for many years to come.

Sources:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents.php?categoryID=200347

http://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/just-diagnosed.asp

http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/features/after-alzheimers-diagnosis

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-food/201101/what-do-after-diagnosis-alzheimers-disease

https://www.verywell.com/dementia-diagnosis-questions-98857

http://www.alz.org/

http://alzfdn.org/