If you have just been diagnosed with an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), you may feel frightened and unsure of what to do next. You are not alone. There are many resources and avenues of support available. You have many decisions ahead of you, and making them now will provide the most benefit because you may be unable to make them later. This article is a brief overview of what a recently diagnosed AD patient can expect in the very latest stages of AD. We also provide some suggestions on how you can prepare for late-stage AD now.
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Make Care Decisions
First and foremost, you need to recognize that you will someday get to a point when you can no longer make health or finance decisions on your own behalf. You should have someone to step into this role when that time comes. It can be a legal guardian, a care center, or a loved one. Take some time to think about this important decision.
The ones who know you best are often great in this role, but some patients cannot bear the thought of being a potential burden on family and friends. However, family and friends may insist that they take on your care to ensure that you are being well taken care of. Discuss the matter with close relatives and come to a decision quickly. Discuss specific goals or desires for your care now because communication abilities decline as the disease progresses.
Other Health Concerns
Patients with AD often have other chronic illnesses or diseases as well. It is important to address these health matters now and establish a plan with your doctor or caregiver on how you will continue to address these concerns after your cognitive abilities decline. Plan for regular checkups now, and continue them even after the disease progresses.
In late-stage AD, you will no longer be able to perform many daily activities, including bathing yourself, feeding yourself, or taking medications. You need to not only address as many problems now as you can, but you also need a plan for how your caregiver will help you with these issues later. Let your caregiver know about any and all medications you are taking and all other health concerns.
Plan for Safety
As the disease progresses, you will lose general awareness. You may not know who very close friends and relatives are, where you are, and why you are there. This confusion has different effects on patients, so plan for the worst. Be sure that you are in a location where you cannot wander or hurt yourself if you lash out in your confused state.
Preparing now can make the progression of the disease easier on you, your family, friends, and caregiver. For more information on what you should do to prepare or what to expect, visit http://www.palmbeachneurological.com/blog/.
Arcand, M. (2015). End-of-life issues in advanced dementia, Part 1: Goals of care, decision-making process, and family education. Canadian Family Physician. 61(4):330-334.
Cummings, J.L, et al. (2002). Guidelines for Managing Alzheimer’s Disease: Part I. Assessment. Am. Fam. Physican. 65(11):2263-2272.
Cummings, J.L., et al. (2015). A practical algorithm for managing Alzheimer’s disease: what, when, and why?. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. 2(3):307-323.
561-694-1010 – Dr. Tuchman has maintained a private practice in Neurology in Palm Beach Gardens since 1983. His special areas of interest are memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkins