6 Tips for Approaching Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's Disease
June is Alzheimer's Awareness month

If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know,
don’t ignore them. Early detection makes a world of difference, and so does the way you
approach the conversation with a family member or a friend. If you notice a pattern of
memory loss or behavioral issues that are affecting one’s ability to function, it’s essential to
talk about it so they can be evaluated. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips:

1. Have the conversation as early as possible – Ideally, it’s best to talk about the
Alzheimer’s warning signs with a family member or friend before they even occur,
so that you can understand how someone would want you to approach them about
it. However, many people aren’t planning for Alzheimer’s before it happens. If you’re
noticing signs of dementia, start a conversation as soon as possible, while mental
functioning is at its highest and before a crisis occurs.

2. Think about who’s best suited to initiate the conversation – There might be a
certain family member, friend or trusted advisor who holds sway. Consider asking
this person to step in and plan around how to have the most supportive and
productive conversation.

3. Practice conversation starters – The following phrases can help broach the
conversation.

  • “Would you want me to say something if I ever noticed any changes in your
    behavior that worried me?”
  • “I’ve noticed a few changes in your behavior lately, and I wanted to see if
    you’ve noticed these changes as well?”
  • “Lately I’ve been considering my own long-term care plans, and I wanted to
    see if you’ve done any advance planning you can share with me?”

4. Offer your support and companionship – Seeing a doctor to discuss observed
warning signs of Alzheimer’s may create anxiety. Let your family member or friend
know that you’re willing to accompany them to the appointment and any follow-up
assessments. Offer your continuous support throughout the diagnosis process.

5. Anticipate gaps in self-awareness – It can be the case that someone showing the
warning signs of Alzheimer’s is unable to recognize those signs in themselves. Be
prepared to navigate confusion, denial and withdrawal, as people may not want to
accept that their mental functioning is declining.

6. Recognize the conversation may not go as planned – Despite your best
intentions, a family member may not be open to discussing memory or cognitive
concerns. They may get angry, upset, and defensive or simply refuse to talk about it.
Unless it’s a crisis situation, don’t force the conversation. Take a step back, regroup
and revisit the subject in a week or two. If they still refuse to get help, consult their
physician or the Alzheimer’s Association for strategies that may help.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

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