You may be quite surprised when your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, even if there have been signs of the disease for years. Finding out that your parent has Alzheimer’s can trigger feelings of worry and sadness. There is a lot of uncertainty with the disease, which can make planning for the future difficult. Fortunately, we have put together this guide to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the disease.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's is a chronic disease that can continue for years. It is the most common form of dementia and involves a progressive decline of intellectual abilities and functioning. The average life expectancy of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's varies from person to person. There is no cure for the disease.
How Do I Tell My Parent That They Have Alzheimer's?
There is no right or wrong answer as to how, when or even whether to tell a parent that they have Alzheimer's disease. In general, a person does have a right to know their diagnosis. A diagnosis may provide your parent with relief once they have an explanation for symptoms that are likely frightening for them. It is often a relief for Alzheimer's patients to know that a treatment plan is being developed to help them cope with the disease. What you choose to say depends on the degree to which the person is aware of or troubled by their symptoms. If your mother is frustrated because she cannot do the things that she normally did, then offering a clear explanation can help. If your parent denies that they have Alzheimer's, do not argue with them. This could be either a symptom of the disease or a defense mechanism. Be sensitive to your parent and provide reassurance that you will be there to provide ongoing support and assistance.
How Do I Explain to My Children?
If your parent has Alzheimer's, you may be wondering how to explain about their disease to your children, especially if your parent will be living with you. Although your natural instinct might be to protect your child from the truth, it is best to be as honest as possible with them. They will notice the behavioral changes and might be anxious by the behavior if they do not understand what is wrong. Adapt your explanation to their age and developmental level. Offer plenty of reassurance and help them cope with any distressing feelings that they might be experiencing.
Where Can I Get Help?
It is important to talk to a geriatric consultant or case manager for more assistance. They can help you locate local resources, coordinate care and advise you how to handle medical symptoms and behavioral problems.