Living With Alzheimer’s
Shock, anger, frustration, disbelief, sadness, anxiety, confusion and despair are only a small sample of the feelings you are likely to experience when your doctor gives you an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
When a chronic medical condition comes into your life, it tries to take over. It tries to make your whole world revolve around your diagnosis while you forget the people, events and activities that really matter. Allowing your life to be consumed will limit the quality of life you can hope to achieve. When quantity is in question, quality is all you have.
Coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not an easy task. It is not something that just happens. It is overwhelming and scary, but if you want to improve your quality of life and the quality for the people around you, you must take action. Through action you tell Alzheimer’s that you will not succumb.
Take Care of Yourself
Alzheimer’s takes many courses. There is no “normal” as one person's path is greatly different than another’s. Because of this, working towards the best case scenario will motivate and empower you towards maintaining and improving your daily life. Here’s how:
Experience the Loss
Learning that you have a chronic, life-threatening illness triggers a grief response in you as you begin to process what the diagnosis entails. You will experience variations of denial, anger, sadness, bargaining and acceptance which are better known as the five stages of grief.
Although they are stages, you will not move through these in a neat, orderly process. Instead, you will fluctuate as you move forward and backwards through the process before you end in acceptance.
Do not put too much pressure on yourself to “grieve the right way.” Your body will tell you what you need in each stage. The only precaution to take is to seek feedback from loved ones if you feel that you have been in one stage for too long or it seems to be negatively impacting your life.
A psychotherapist is a great support if you believe your grieving to be stuck or delayed.
Focus on Your Physical Health
People sometimes react in unexpected ways after a diagnosis due to anger and sadness. They may begin to mistreat or abuse their body through drugs, alcohol, poor diet or poor self-care because they feel their body “let them down.” Of course, exposing your body to this only worsens your overall physical health.
Instead, look for ways to improve your physical presence. Exercise, eat well and get enough rest to improve your physical well-being. Creating routines will make consistency more successful. Find way to strengthen your brain through mental stimulation. Taking a class or trying a new hobby may help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s.
Next page: focussing on your mental and social help, plus how taking care of others during this time can help you through.