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Tips for Handling an Early-Onset Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Over 5 million adults in the U.S. have Alzheimer's disease. Within the next 30 years, that number is expected to almost triple. Most people do not experience symptoms until well after their 60s, but there's another form of Alzheimer's known as early-onset Alzheimer's where the disease starts when a person is younger than 60.

If your parent has early-onset Alzheimer's, it can be alarming. You're probably well away from retirement, but your parent is going to need a lot of help over the next 10 or 20 years. These are the things you should plan for now.

It Can Be Tough to Get a Diagnosis

Most doctors still think of Alzheimer's as a disease older adults get. If your mom or dad is forgetful at an earlier age, doctors are more likely to dismiss it as being a symptom of excessive stress or hormonal changes.

Attend medical appointments with your parent and demand to see a specialist. A neurologist that specializes in early-onset Alzheimer's will be helpful in this situation. If you're not set up as your parent's medical POA, talk to the family about it. It's a good time to complete this paperwork and get HIPAA permissions in place.

There's No Set Time Frame

Every case of early-onset Alzheimer's is different just as every case of Alzheimer's is different. There is no guarantee that your parent will survive the average 8 to 10 years. Some people survive for 20 years, others experience health issues that lower the duration.

Learn what the different stages are and be ready to help as needed. In the early stages, your parent may need to stop driving. You'll need to make sure rides to appointments and stores are arranged. Help paying bills, shopping, and remembering to take prescription medications is usually advised in the early stages.

As the disease progresses, your parent will need help with clothing selections that are suitable for the weather. Your parent will need help cooking meals, cleaning the home, and doing laundry. If your parent has a dog and/or cat, pet care is another concern.

In the final stages, your parent's mood may be hard to tolerate. Your mom or dad may fly into a rage over trivial matters. Speech deteriorates and nonsensical phrases are normal. Make sure you have support from others and aren't trying to provide all the care that's needed without ever taking breaks.

You'll Need Support, Too

You're going to need a strong support team. Alzheimer's is just as hard on the emotions as it is on your strength and stamina. Your parent may always try to find ways to escape. Your parent may not sleep much. You'll be dealing with meltdowns just as often as there are moments of laughter.

Have help by hiring caregivers to provide home care. Take breaks to relax, socialize, and be ready to return with a clear mind. Call a home care agency to schedule caregivers as often as you need.


If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Jacksonville, FL, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (904) 342-6040