November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. Alzheimer's Disease is a degenerative neurological condition that mostly affects elderly patients and is described as being consistent loss of memory, motor skills and neurological function in an individual. Alzheimer's is often times a terminal diagnosis but one that can take years to run its course.
Alzheimer's is a chronic and degenerative illness, it will continue to get worse the longer the person deals with the condition: that often means that long-term care solutions must be discussed early on once a diagnosis is made by a medical professional. These long-term solutions can be emotional and difficult to make: with that in mind, here are a few ways you can assist those dealing with Alzheimer's and those who are caring for them.
When friends and family come to visit either at home or in an care facility, encourage photos to be taken. These photos are not just great mementos but they can also be wonderful reminders of close friends and loved ones. Oftentimes, Alzheimer's patients have difficulty remembering even close family but photographs are excellent ways to help attach names to faces.
Maintain a regular schedule for visits to those in care facilities or in nursing homes. Regular visits can help maintain the memory of those who are facing memory loss. Routine is an important part of easing some of the anxiety that can come from memory loss and being regularly in contact with those that may have difficulty remembering can help reinforce some of those fading memories.
You may consider joining a support group or seeing a therapist to help you cope with the emotions that go alongside the diagnosis of Alzheimer's in a loved one. It can be difficult taking care of a loved one or putting aside the guilt that can arise from placing someone in assisted living. It is important to express those feelings and thoughts with a professional trained in helping you with the skills and coping mechanisms needed to carry on.
Alzheimer's Disease is a difficult diagnosis for a loved one to receive but know that there are support groups, resources and professionals that are trained to help you and your loved one get through this with as much grace as possible. A great start is right here at Alzheimer's Association, www.alz.org, and Alzheimer's Foundation at www.alzfdn.org.