Tips for Those Living with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
by Paula Gibson, Executive Director for Azura Memory Care
An elderly woman with sparkling white hair pleasantly recounting the same story over and over again—that is what most of us picture when envisioning someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Yet approximately 500,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. Meaning that they were clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 65; some showing symptoms as early as 30, 40 and 50 years of age.
Getting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is not easy at any age but is especially hard for those with Early-Onset as many of them are still working and raising families. Therefore, it is important that everyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their loves ones keep a few things in mind.
Understand – make sure you understand the disease and your diagnosis. Also, give yourself some understanding. Realize that you will have good and bad days. Relish the good and give yourself a break on the bad.
Find an Outlet – find healthy ways to get you and your loved ones’ feelings, fears and frustrations out. Journal, write songs and find a friendly ear or a professional counselor. Do not be ashamed or afraid to talk about the disease, and when loved ones offer to help, let them!
Adapt and Reduce Stress - consider adapting your work hours, household duties and outside obligations to reduce stress and compensate for changes that may occur.
Get Things in Order - meet with a legal professional to get your documents in order. This is especially important for those with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease as they may need to look at items that will affect their children, such as future educational funding and guardianship.
Be Healthy and Safe - have a full physical done by a doctor and do your best to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. Also, do a safety evaluation on your home to find areas that are currently or may pose a safety risk. Then make the necessary modifications so that you can stay in your own home for as long as possible.
Take Time to Remember - take time now to write down, record or scrapbook your memories, family history and hopes and dreams for you and your loved ones’ futures. These will serve as wonderful keepsakes and may even help you maintain your connection with those that you love.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease does not mean that your life is over; however, it does mean that you and your loved ones may need to make changes sooner than you would like. By doing so you will all be able to relish the good days and continue to make memories that will last lifetimes!