Your mom or dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. While your first feeling may be worry, you can get support to help you guide your parent’s care and manage costs. That way you can make the most of your time together.
Several local, national, and online resources can help you find care for your parent, along with discounts, delivered meals, and legal or financial tips. Here are some leads on how to get started.
No one knows for sure what, if anything, can prevent Alzheimer's disease. Scientists are working on understandinghow people can control their risk for the condition through their lifestyle habits, like diet, exercise, social connections, and staying mentally active.
It’s also hard for doctors to know for certain who has a higher risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s tends to run in families, but if you have a parent or sibling who has it, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it, too.
Your best bet is to...
Your first step is to draw up a plan for your parent’s future care, says Ruth Drew, director of Family and Information Services for the Alzheimer’s Association. Talk to a social worker trained in Alzheimer’s care or to a support group to help you make a checklist, she says. You can contact a social worker at your local hospital, community center, nursing home, or assisted living center.
“You need to address now your plan for down the road,” Drew says. Your plan may change as your parent’s health or needs change, she says. Most importantly, “involve the person with the disease in these conversations. Understand their wants and choices, and incorporate these into your plan.”
Your plan might include:
Day care, long-term care, or home health care
Assisted living or memory care housing
A financial plan to cover costs
Power of attorney and living will documents
End-of-life care decisions
Which family members will help with care
Different types of care can vary greatly in cost. Your choices may be limited by your financial resources, and insurance might not cover some choices. You'll simply do the best you can to honor your parent's wishes. Some things might not be possible because of financial constraints. See more tips on how to cover costs below.
Tap into a local support group of other caregivers of parents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, says Shelly Eisenstadt, a licensed clinical social worker at the William Breman Jewish Home in Atlanta. Your parent’s doctor or social worker, a local senior center, or the Alzheimer’s Association can refer you to groups in your community.