Early-onset dementia affects individuals who are under age 65. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, among the 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, 4% are diagnosed with early onset.
Susan Harvell, a patient of Dr. Kerchner, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 53. As she and her family deal with her diagnosis, she’s staying active physically and getting involved with the Alzheimer’s Association’s aim to research a cure for the disease. Learn more about Susan and early-onset Alzheimer’s in this NECN/NBC News video, and be sure to scroll down for six tips for coping with a loved one’s diagnosis.
6 Tips for Coping With a Loved One’s Diagnosis:
- Encourage your loved one to engage in aerobic exercise. Keep in mind that getting that heart pumping is thought to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Ask family or friends for help. If you’re a caregiver for a loved one with early-onset dementia, taking a break for a few hours, a day, or a whole night can reduce your stress levels and renew your patience and positive energy.
- Join a support group. Both online and community support groups can bring enormous relief to persons with early-onset dementia and their caregivers. Talking with others who’ve had similar experiences arms you with strength for every step of the journey.
- Reminisce. Spend time remembering who the person with Alzheimer’s was and still is. Keep in mind that the person you love remains.
- Consult with professionals who can help. A speech-language pathologist can teach adaptations to enhance your loved one’s communication abilities. An occupational therapist can teach you or your loved one how to modify daily activities in order for the person to maintain her highest level of independence.
- Facilitate abilities. Remember that it’s vital to help and encourage your loved one to participate in every task she used to perform. Even engaging in just small portions of familiar activities will help her maintain skill, dignity, and contentment in her abilities.
If you’re a professional caregiver, get more tips in CPI’s free eBook, Communication Tips for Serving Individuals With Dementia.
Read “Early Onset Alzheimer’s: One Woman’s Story” on the NECN website.