When my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995, we were fortunate enough to have an earlier diagnosis rather than a later one. While it was difficult at times seeing my grandfather slowly slip away, we were fortunate enough to have him for another ten years after the initial diagnosis. How we helped him and my grandmother get through the beginnings of the disease I’m sure helped my grandfather live a more comfortable life. Here are some things we did to make taking the diagnosis easier.
The first thing to do is not to panic. Just because someone has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease doesn’t mean that they need to be rushed around like they don’t have much time left. Keep the tone and daily activities relaxed as if it were a normal day.
Make gradual changes in the routine instead of sudden ones. Alzheimer’s gradually breaks down neurons in the brain, unlike a heart attack where sudden blood loss needs instant remedies. Helping treat Alzheimer’s can be gradual and be taken in smaller steps instead of drastic actions. For instance, we began to get my grandfather to write more and more things down until about a year later he was writing a full page per day of just memories about what happened on that particular day.
My family also made it a point to spend more time with my grandfather, even if we just called him spontaneously or wrote him a letter. We also made a point to try to spend more holidays with that side of the family such as Christmas or my grandfather’s birthday. I didn’t live within a few hours drive so getting to see my grandfather was a big deal at best. Yet we felt like the more time we spent with him now, the better we all would be since for the first few years within the diagnosis at least he would be more cognizant of the time spent with him.
We encouraged my grandmother to take a vacation with him soon after the diagnosis. My grandparents had always wanted to take a cruise so my parents, aunts, and uncles all got together to fund a cruise for them. It was a nice way for them to have time together and enjoy life and to forget about their lives back home for a few weeks.
Another thing was did was so minor yet it helped tremendously with my grandfather’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. We posted phone numbers on the refrigerator for not only a national agency that helps seniors and families deal with Alzheimer’s, but also a local number for my grandparents to call so they can meet with someone in person who is going through the same thing that my family was at the time. These phone numbers for help when they didn’t have any other immediate place to turn ended up being vital to their peace of mind regarding the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not actual medical advice. If you feel like a loved one may have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, consult with a medical professional for diagnosis and possible treatment options.