Getting Started: Tips for the Newly Diagnosed
Hearing news about a diagnosis, for ourselves or our loved ones, can be a devastating, confusing, and difficult experience. To help our listeners find the way to some helpful information, and look for guidance on getting started, we’ve curated content from past episodes that our audience has found to be the most useful—in understanding the basics about dementia care, learning about lifestyle practices we can adopt to slow the disease, putting together a daily routine that works and helps both the caregiver and the person who has been diagnosed, and thinking about what a care team might look like.
One of the first steps we can take is to think about our lifestyle, and what we can do to stay healthy. Our guest speaker, Dr. Steven E. Arnold, talks about lifestyle practices he recommends for Alzheimer’s patients at the time of diagnosis—recommendations that can also benefit the health and well-being of family members by reducing the risk of developing the disease. Dr. Arnold is Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and Translational Neurology Head and Managing Director of the Interdisciplinary Brain Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Caring for our loved ones with dementia is a challenging task. In this episode, Lena talks about how she began to figure out the help she needed and find it, even though getting help—and letting go—can be challenging.
Another helpful tool to consider is developing a daily routine—a schedule that sets some time windows for getting up to start the morning routine, meals, walks, activities, or when help is expected to arrive and take over some of the tasks. This is especially helpful if there are multiple people on the caregiving team, whether formally or informally. Routines can easily be adjusted over time, with new needs and resources, but they are a good start for regaining some sense of normalcy.
The journey ahead is a challenging one. We’d like to close this episode with Lena’s reflections. Is it worth it? As she gives testimony to her journey with Bob, the answer is a resounding yes.
Dr. Steven E. Arnold is the author of the episode titled “After Diagnosis: Lifestyle Practices.” Lena Chow Kuhar is the author of “Five Key Elements of Dementia Care,” “The Care Team,” “Daily Routine,” and “Love, Living, and Alzheimer’s.”