Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another dementia can leave you feeling scared, isolated, hopeless, anxious, and even angry. It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions.
Know that you are joined by thousands of Vermonters who share your diagnosis and understand what you are going through.
Whether it is you or a loved one with a recent diagnosis, taking action now can make a significant impact on the course of the disease—and help maximize quality of life.
A New Diagnosis
If you are living in the early stage of your disease, there is a lot you can do to come to terms with your diagnosis.
- Talk with your doctor. Speak openly about any questions or worries you have about your diagnosis. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some questions to start the conversation.
- Learn about your condition. There are benefits to being knowledgeable about the progression of dementia, such as setting goals for things you want to accomplish while you still can and making decisions about your care plan.
- Know your treatment options. With your doctor and care team, research the treatment options available to you.
- Acknowledge that what you are going through is hard. Consider writing your thoughts down, sharing them with a counselor or joining a local support group.
- Establish your care team. Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging, so it is important to lean on friends, family, and health professionals as the disease progresses.
- Take care of your physical health. Prioritizing healthy eating, regular exercise, and not smoking, can help to delay cognitive decline and dementia. Learn more about healthy life style changes.
- Find healthy ways to cope. Preparing ways to respond to your changes in ability can make the changes feel a little bit easier as they occur.
- Prepare for the future. By participating in legal, financial, and end-of-life conversations early on, you can help your loved ones to find comfort knowing they are following your wishes.
- Your voice matters. Increasingly, Vermonters with lived experience are joining meetings and events where they can share their perspective and provide feedback on what dementia prevention and care looks like in Vermont. Interested? Contact the Alzheimer’s and Healthy Aging Program Manager: Edwin DeMott, [email protected].
People with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have twice as many annual hospital visits compared to elderly people without dementia. This has significant financial consequences and can worsen one’s quality of life.
Tips for preventing hospital visits:
- Maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors, like getting exercise, eating well, and attending regular doctor appointments.
- Seek help with your medication regimen and other aspects of chronic disease management.
- Create a safe living environment and prevent falls or other accidents. This can mean locking doors or cabinets containing hazardous items, installing a shower chair, and picking up clutter.
- Have a live-in caregiver.
- Create an emergency action plan.
- University of Vermont Center on Aging Resources from the Center on Aging: Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont
- University of Vermont Medical Center Wellness Resources: Memory Program
- Vermont’s Area Agencies on Aging: Regional resource guides to help support caregivers and family members.
- Vermont Care Partners: Vermont agencies specialize in providing mental health, substance use, and developmental disability services and supports in your community.
- The Money Follows the Person: Grant awarded to the VT Department of Aging & Independent Living (DAIL) to help people living in nursing facilities to overcome barriers that have prevented them from moving to their preferred community-based setting.