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A Diagnosis Can Make a Difference

If you’re concerned about your relative’s memory loss, or notice additional problems such as changing personality, mood or behavior changes, it may be time to see the doctor. Talk with your loved one about what changes you’ve noticed and why you think it’s important to make an appointment. Most older adults know about Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and they may be scared that they’re ‘getting’ it, too. Reassure them that there are many reasons why memory changes. An appointment with the doctor can determine what’s going on and if medications, depression, thyroid problems or a vitamin deficiency are causing the symptoms. The doctor will do some initial screening and then further tests, if needed. If it does turn out to be Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it’s important to know what to expect and where to get help for you and your loved one.

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Every Day is Different

If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, educate yourself. The Alzheimer’s Association chapter in your area (www.alz.org) offers educational programs and materials, as well as caregiver support groups. Each day will bring new challenges. Cognitive skills change, sometimes daily, and not necessarily in a purely steady progression. One day your loved one might be confused, but the next day they may be quite clear.

Hugs Help

Memory loss is extremely difficult to face for both you and your relative. Everyone grieves the losses and changes that take place over time. It’s normal to become scared and anxious, sometimes even angry. Give your loved one plenty of reassurance and treat them as gently as possible. Hold their hands and give plenty of hugs. And be kind to yourself, too. Seek support. Join our forum to talk to others who truly understand. Have a question? Ask our expert.