Early Stage Care Giving

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In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, most people function independently. He or she may still drive, take part in social activities, volunteer and even work. Your role as care partner is an important one: to provide support and companionship, and help plan for the future.

Your role as care partner

A diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect those with the disease; it affects everyone who loves and cares about them.

“Early stage” refers to people, irrespective of age, who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorder, and are in the beginning stage of the disease. The early stage of Alzheimer’s can last for years.

As a Home Care partner (a term many choose to use rather than “caregiver,” since a person in the early stage of dementia may not need much assistance), you may find yourself in a new and unfamiliar role. You may be unsure of where to go for information, anxious about what to expect as the disease progresses and concerned about your ability to support the person living with dementia.

These questions and feelings are normal.

With an early diagnosis, you and the person with dementia now have the opportunity to make decisions about the future together, including legal, financial, and long-term care planning. The person living with dementia can take advantage of available treatments, participation in clinical trials and you both can benefit from local resources and support services. Being able to take advantage of all these benefits can reduce anxiety about the unknown and lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.

Secondary care partners

The role of a care partner is not limited to spouses, partners or close family members. Care partners may include “families of choice” such as friends, neighbors or long-distance relatives. If you are providing support as a secondary or remote care partner, it may be difficult to determine the exact level of assistance needed without direct observation. Whenever possible, try to connect with others in the support network to share insights or make plans to meet the person with dementia in their own environment.

Learn more from alz.org on Finding A New Balance.