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Even if you suspected it, the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s leaves you or your loved one overwhelmed, anxious and unsure of how the rest of the days will pan out. Like any monumental task, it’s best to break it down into manageable pieces. Start with small steps, the simple things that will need to happen to maintain some normalcy in daily life. There are many online resources such as alz.org and webmd.com available to those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
For the early stages it’s beneficial to establish some basic daily routines. Keep a list of important and emergency phone numbers by the phone. Have a neighbor keep an extra set of house keys, and designate someone to routinely check for home safety (smoke detectors, heat, etc.). A loved one can help organize closets and drawers to keep go-to items easy to find, thus reducing frustration.
While memory problems may be intermittent in early stage Alzheimer’s, it’s important to plan for a time when your loved one’s memory is significantly less reliable. Now is the time to compile a book with important information, phone numbers, account numbers and addresses (including the patient’s).
Remind your loved one to become more accustomed to looking at a calendar, and have them post important dates and appointments regularly. A young relative can help with recording important dates. Facilitate a schedule of friends and loved ones to provide reminder calls of meals, appointments and medications. Consider replacing their voicemail system with an answering machine which is simple to operate and retains messages for later review. Compile visual how-to lists for dressing and/or cleaning instructing on the proper sequence of each task. There are many tips available online from caregivers experiencing the same challenges as you.