By Caroline Ster
Alzheimer’s San Diego recently held a workshop, Adjusting to Life with Dementia. This class focused on the progressive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, how to plan ahead for quality of life and preparing for potential safety concerns. In case you missed the class, taught by Education & Outreach Manager Amy Abrams, you can find a recap below.
Progression of the Disease
While symptoms of Alzheimer’s are difficult to predict, you can generally expect a slow decline in function over time.
“It is important to keep in mind that no two experiences are the same,” said Abrams. “You may know someone else with dementia, but their experience will be totally different from what you or a loved one is experiencing.”
The progression can typically be broken into three stages: early/mild, middle/moderate and late/severe.
Adjusting to a new normal
While no two experiences are the same, advice that was given in this class that can be applied to most cases included the following:
- Acknowledge feelings
- Give yourself time to adjust
- Be flexible with changes and expectations
- Practice patience and forgiveness with yourself and others
- Educate yourself and others
- Develop a support system
Changes in communication
It can be difficult for someone living with dementia to find the right word and focus while speaking. Keep in mind that communication changes are to be expected with any progressive cognitive disease. To improve conversation, use short and clear sentences and take your time when speaking. Click here for some specific examples of communication that may work for you.
As the disease progresses, you may need to consider new safety concerns. Examples of potential concerns include being home alone, access to medication, driving, wandering and access to firearms.
Above all, Amy encouraged everyone in the class to ask for help when they need it.
“You can’t do this alone,” she stressed. “It’s important to build a support system, and to know when you need to take some time for yourself. In the end, that will make you a better care partner.”
Alzheimer’s San Diego is here to help! Learn more about our free programs and services by calling us at 858.492.4400.