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How to Live Well with Alzheimer’s

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Living Well with Alzheimer’s Disease Angel Nieto/PhotoSpin

When you ask people what living well means to them, you will get an array of answers. For some, it’s about being happy, for others it’s about their health.

But for the family faced with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, it takes on a whole new meaning — living well is vital to delaying the progression of the disease.

It Takes a Team

It is possible for a person with Alzheimer’s and their family to live well. But it requires a team effort implementing different strategies based on the person’s abilities and needs throughout the stages of the disease.

Because the primary care partner, generally a spouse or adult child, must stand beside the individual throughout the disease progression, their well-being often also erodes, if left unchecked. Therefore, a family’s care strategy for a person with Alzheimer’s must include the primary care partner as well.

Adapting these strategies as the disease progresses is essential for the family to remain strong during all stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Fighting Back

One of the first major hurdles of Alzheimer’s caregiving is overcoming the initial emotions, which often lead to depression, and subsequently, both social and emotional isolation. Too often, depression and fear take hold, and the care partners withdraw from family, friends and society.

Isolation accelerates the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Once a person becomes cut off, they start to lose their sense of purpose. Having purpose is critical to living well; whether it’s family, a cause, or a hobby, this purpose is why we get up in the morning.

Out of the Closet

Once an Alzheimer’s patient learns to manage their emotions and realizes they have a disease which is no different than diabetes or breast cancer, they become more comfortable in sharing their diagnosis and talking about it, when appropriate.

However, like cancer or HIV of the past, the general public has many misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Hi Mike,

I am only at my 30's but I can sense that I could have alzheimers when I get old. At my age I do forget many things. I even forgot my friends and auntie's name.

June 21, 2015 - 7:13pm
Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hi, there are many things that cause us to be forgetful - multitasking, medications, vitamin deficiencies, etc. Alzheimer's at such a young age is rare. I recommend making a log of all of your medications including over the counter, prescription, supplements, etc. Include your dietary intake as well. Talk to you doctor about your concerns and share this log. Many forms of dementia are treatable.

June 22, 2015 - 8:40am
EmpowHER Guest

You may also like to read the book by Jacques Boersma, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011 and is still going strong.

June 1, 2015 - 4:16am
Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing.

June 11, 2015 - 10:38am
EmpowHER Guest

I also think exercise important, and posted video at Dementia Mentors on subject. Also on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcv-CtYdrwE

May 31, 2015 - 9:24am
Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Yes, I agree - exercise is valuable in many ways; not only is it good for the body but often times it also has a social and/or spiritual element. Thank you for sharing the video which demonstrates this! Dementia Mentors which you mentioned is a great organization for people with dementia to find support from others who have dementia. This is another great element of living well with the disease.

May 31, 2015 - 5:23pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for sharing this. I totally agree w exercise! Since I started a regular exercise routine, I feel better physical and mentally and I do not seem to have as many Dementia Daze Days. More days of "I can see clearly now", Rather than "Blue, Blue My World is Blue">

May 30, 2015 - 2:12pm
Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing about how exercise has helped you fight back against dementia.

May 31, 2015 - 5:24pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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