Receiving the New Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia
Learn about the realities and emotions of receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease, and find ways to support and cope with a loved one who has been affected. Personal insights from a family member and caregiver.
By Judy Morton
Receiving the new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for my FIL, was devastating.
I’m a caregiver. I’ve been taking care of various family members since 1982. I’ve dealt with at least 3 different types of cancer, various surgeries, COPD, CHF, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, TIAs and mini-strokes, severe strokes, dementia caused by cancer, strokes and Parkinson’s, broken bones and injured joints… and now I’m going to learn how to care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease.
There’s something about those words “Alzheimer’s Disease” that has the power to frighten and intimidate. We’ve “known” for a while that my FIL has some form of dementia. We’ve known for a month that this is not just a guess, but an actual diagnosis from a neurologist. But it was only this afternoon that the doctor said “Alzheimer’s”.
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There is still such a stigma with the diagnosis of dementia – any kind of dementia. FIL has tried for a month to ignore the initial dementia diagnosis, because to him it’s a sign of some sort of weakness. Frankly, knowing FIL’s family history and about his TIAs, I really thought it would be vascular dementia, but nope. It’s Alzheimer’s Disease.
And “Alzheimer’s” has such an intimidating, menacing sound to it. As experienced as I am with taking care of people, as much as I’ve seen, done, dealt with over the past 30 years, to hear that word associated with someone I know and care about is scary, even to me. It is the thought of my FIL losing more and more of himself as this ugly disease progresses. It is the thought that my husband himself might actually be susceptible to it, and might eventually succumb and lose himself, his memories…
…it is the fact that “Alzheimer’s Disease” isn’t an abstract something that has happened to a friend of a friend, or even someone I know, but to a member of my family. It’s really hit home this time.