Posted on: 27 February 2017
An Alzheimer's diagnosis is always upsetting, no matter what the age of the patient. But when someone you love is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, it can be especially devastating for everyone involved. Early-onset Alzheimer's is Alzheimer's disease that's diagnosed before the age of 65. It often strikes patients in their 40s and 50s, but can even affect patients in their 30s. Take a look at some things you can do to help a loved one who is dealing with a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's.
Help Them Maintain Their Independence as Long as Possible
It's important to keep in mind that Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. It can take years to progress through all the stages of Alzheimer's disease, and the earliest stages are typically the mildest. There are still many things that a patient in the early stages of Alzheimer's can do for themselves, and most patients will not like to be treated like an invalid.
You can help a loved one maintain their independence by enabling them to do the things that they can do for themselves. For example, your loved may still be able to do the grocery shopping, but they may no longer be able to drive themselves to the store. Offer to do the driving – but then stand back and let your loved one handle their own shopping, unless they ask for your help. This way, you're helping the patient with the part of the task they can't do, without preventing them from doing something they still can do for themselves.
Provide Support for Immediate Family Members
If your loved one has a spouse or children, they can use your help too. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease turns immediate family members into caregivers. This can be an especially tough role for younger adults who previously believed they had years before they had to worry about this issue. Your partner's spouse may have to deal with additional medical bills, the loss of their spouse's income, and full responsibility for any minor children the two of them may have had, as well as becoming a caretaker to an Alzheimer's patient. If there are minor children in the household, they may be confused or distressed by the diagnosis. The entire family may feel isolated and feel that their friends and peers don't understand what they're dealing with.
Be available to help. Volunteer to drive the patient to doctor's appointments, babysit children, keep the patient company while other family members are at school or work, or bring over a home-cooked meal for the family. There are a lot of ways that you can help take the pressure off of a family dealing with the stress of an early Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Families dealing with early-onset Alzheimer's disease need a support network, and you can be a part of it. By putting some time and effort into understanding the illness, you can be a big help to your loved one and their family. For additional advice, contact a facility that specializes in Alzheimer's care, such as Alta Ridge Communities.Share