The idea of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be scary. Some may even choose to ignore the early signs, hoping to avoid the bleakness an actual diagnosis may bring on, waiting until their families are forced to sort out symptoms that have progressed to the point of being impossible to ignore. These adult children are now not only forced to have a front-row seat to the decline of a loved one, but now must make important decisions for them based on what they think the ill parent would have wanted.
How do you obtain an early diagnosis?
Early Diagnosis in itself can be a tricky journey, but no matter where your journey begins, awareness is the best partner to have along. If you are concerned that you may be demonstrating some symptoms of the disease, the American Alzheimer’s Association provides some tools that can help, including a “Know the 10 Signs” checklist (a link to this can be found on their site at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_know_the_10_signs.asp). This checklist is a good place to start, so that you have a thorough description of your concerns which you can present to your primary care physician.
Your primary care physician may refer you to a neurologist, psychiatrist or psychologist (or even some combination of the three), who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease and its diagnosis and research. After these medical professionals assess the implications of your testing results, they will be able to determine a diagnosis.
Although it can be overwhelming at first, once an early diagnosis is established, the true journey begins. And there are many emotional and financial benefits and opportunities that come along with it.
Have an early start on taking the best care of yourself.
An early diagnosis can provide you with being with the chance to really put yourself at a mental and physical peak in order to maintain this peak for as long as possible. The more time to prepare and experience life at its fullest, the better off you will be.
By maintaining a peak level of health for as long as possible, you will also be at primed to take advantage of any possible medical breakthroughs doctors may have with the disease.
Spell out what you want.
Something can happen to any one of us, at any moment. Having your will prepared is a good idea, anyway. Doing it while you are on the ball with full-thinking capacity is a great idea.
You will have the benefit of detailing everything you want for yourself medically, leaving no second-guess work for your family and friends. For instance, if you prefer a certain care-giving situation or facility, you have the ability to provide the provisions for this and make certain it happens. Your family will not have to experience the additional pain of determining whether you would want to be revived or not if that question ever comes up. In clearing these matters up for your loved ones, they can focus on enjoying their time with you as much as possible.
You will also have the chance to prepare those close to you in all matters of your estate, including how your house is maintained.
Having the support of someone who actually understands is a valuable resource.
You will have time to get in touch with Alzheimer’s groups that can provide this support to you and your family, in order to process what is happening to your mind and body. There are many places to find this—including your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, who can direct you toward support groups and caregivers who are specialized to direct those affected to the best resources available.
You can also take the time to see a private counselor if you are having emotional difficulty dealing with the diagnosis. They can help bring a sense of peace to you while you are going through the process of planning.
Take time to enjoy yourself.
While there will be extra time to get all of the technical things in order, like estates and finances, it is also important to enjoy yourself. Not everyone has the resources to plan a vacation with their family, but everyone can take small steps to make every day a little more joyful.