World Alzheimer’s Month: Providing Education, Reducing Stigma
Across the globe, relatively few people understand the causes and ramifications of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite ongoing efforts to educate the public, stigma about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia persists.
World Alzheimer’s Month — observed each September — is an effort to change attitudes and raise awareness about dementia. Along with the month-long observance, which began in 2012, World Alzheimer’s Day is observed each year on Sept. 21.
The theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month observance is “Remember Me” and focuses on the importance of detecting and diagnosing Alzheimer’s in its early stages. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, what do you need to know to help provide the best possible quality of life?
Coping with Alzheimer’s
If a loved one is showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or has received a diagnosis, you may feel unsure about what to expect. Armed with the right knowledge, you and your family members can better cope with the disease and the changes your loved one may experience.
Whether your loved one is in the early or later stages of the disease, developing a routine will be important. Make a daily plan and track all appointments and tasks you want to accomplish. A predictable routine will help your family member stay calm and able to enjoy each day.
As the disease progresses, observe which tasks become more challenging and get outside help if needed. Eliminate unnecessary tasks and activities to ease the burdens of daily life and simplify necessary processes as much as possible. For example, if your family member cannot choose clothing or makes inappropriate choices, consider getting an outfit ready for each day.
Set achievable goals on a daily basis and don’t try to do too much. Ask for help if you need it.
Dealing with Denial
Problems can arise if your family member refuses to acknowledge that he or she has Alzheimer’s. If you’re caring for someone with dementia, the first step in moving past denial of the situation is talking openly. By communicating with the individual with dementia and with other close friends and family members, you can share any feelings of anger or guilt and strengthen your support system.
As your loved one’s memory begins to wane, consider setting up a reminder system for taking medications and completing other important tasks. Avoid speaking to the individual in an accusatory manner or trying to be persuasive about the diagnosis. Instead, express your concerns about specific events and make it clear that you want to help.
Questions to Ask About Memory Care
If you feel that you can no longer provide full-time care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, consider a specialized memory care community. As you begin researching communities, be sure to ask for explanations of topics, including:
- The level of care provided, fees and the services included
- Training provided to staff pertaining to dementia residents
- The types of meals provided and how special diets are accommodated
- The frequency of laundry and housekeeping services
- The types and frequency of social and cultural programming provided
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, World Alzheimer’s Month is the ideal time to learn more about facing the challenges presented by the disease. By developing coping strategies, learning to deal with denial, and researching memory care communities, you take important steps for helping your loved one continue to thrive.