If you are a caregiver of someone with dementia and you feel that you, too, are showing signs of the disease, what do you do? This isn't as uncommon as you may think, since at least three circumstances that increase one's risk for Alzheimer's are at play here.
The first is that many caregivers take care of spouses, and likely fall into the same age group. Since age is a big risk factor for dementia, your risk has been increasing over time as you've cared for your mate.
The second factor is genetics. If there is a history of early on-set Alzheimer's in your family, and you are caring for that parent, there is a chance that you, too, carry that gene.
The third factor is stress. While stress can cause dementia-like symptoms without being dementia, studies show that stress hormones can actually contribute to the disease.
If you are diagnosed with dementia, it's important to take these steps while you can still think clearly:
- Make sure that adult children or other trusted parties have the ability to help you.
- Begin making lists and notes. These should be for your own use and those who may be caring for you and the other person with dementia.
- Contact your local Alzheimer's organization.
- Prepare to hire in-home help.
- Work with the person you have chosen to be your Power of Attorney for finances.
- With family members, tour assisted living facilities with memory units.
- Beware of denial.