While a dementia diagnosis can feel earth-shattering, individuals and their loved ones can take some simple and important steps to better prepare for the future. Listed below are the National Institute on Aging’s top tips for staying active, thinking ahead, and coping with memory changes after an initial dementia diagnosis.
Living Alone with Early Stage Cognitive Decline
- Make your Home Safe: Remove tripping hazards such as throw rugs or awkwardly-placed furniture and consider using medical safety devices. For example, install an automatic switch-off for your stove or oven and ensure fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors work. You can also set an alarm to check these devices every six months.
- Simplify Daily Tasks: Automate your daily life as much as possible (e.g., set up auto-pay for bills, set ongoing alarm reminders for medications, automate a weekly grocery delivery). Driving can become an issue for many individuals living with dementia. To help with this issue, some decide to use public transportation, set up a ride-sharing system, or rely on friends and family for transportation.
- Build a Support Base: Create a trusted support system, including care providers, neighbors, friends, family, and community-based organizations. Write down the contact numbers of these important individuals and keep the list in multiple places in your home. Join an online or in-person support group with others who share your diagnosis. The Alzheimer’s Association has many support group options and a 24/7 support line (1-800-272-3900). Schedule regular appointments with a neurologist who can track your condition and ensure you’re receiving appropriate care.
- Take Steps for the Future: Get your financial and legal affairs in order as soon as possible. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (1-703-942-5711) is a fantastic resource for legal aid. Planning for increased care in the future is also important. Consider your options for part-time or full-time in-home care, family caregivers, or an assisted living community. In terms of employment, you might be eligible for disability income or certain provisions due to your diagnosis. Read Alzheimer’s and Employment from the BrightFocus Foundation for more helpful information.
- Stay Healthy: It’s important to remember that life does not end after a dementia diagnosis. Continuing to invest in your health can go a long way toward slowing the progression of the disease. Exercise (especially in nature!), prioritize nutrition, stay socially engaged, and practice mindfulness to manage stress and anxiety.
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Holistic memory care is defined as care that engages a patient’s body, mind, and spirit. From knowing about a resident’s wellness to physical health to hobbies, interests, and more, caring for the whole person starts with taking the time to understand them as an individual. For those with Alzheimer’s, knowing who they were before is just as important as knowing who they are now.
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At BayView Senior Assisted Living (and at our partner locations, MesaView Senior Assisted Living, RanchView Senior Assisted Living, and HarborView Senior Assisted Living). Our compassionate, highly-competent staff provide 24/7 care to each member of our memory care communities.