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March 13, 2018 06:04 PM

Alzheimer's Diagnosis: What's Next?

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. 

A diagnosis is a scary one for both the patient and family members. 

Alzheimer's disease typically starts out as mild memory loss, possibly leading to the loss of the ability to carry on a conversation, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Registered nurse Kellee Nelson says the disease can be dangerous. 

"They just don't have the ability to make safe decisions. You have to have someone there with them to decide is this going to be safe for me to do," Nelson said.

Experts say symptoms can first appear after age 60, and increase from there. 

"You know, hearing the words Alzheimer's disease does bring a lot of fear. What's going to happen to me, am I going to forget who I am, my family, my friends?" Director of assisted living Jill Fries said.

These fears bring up an important question: what's next?

"Having the stove on safe for them. Are they going to walk out of their home and not return?" Fries said.

When your loved one begins to neglect their own health, it's time to have a serious conversation. 

"You know you might notice that they're not paying their bills. That they're not eating is the big one too where they just are not thriving at home. They're losing weight," Nelson said.

These symptoms signal it's time to seek help. 

"Long term care, assisted living, or even a senior community living is a scary thought. We all want to live in our homes for as long as we can," Fries said.

But this may be the best option, and Fries says in her experience, you won't regret it. 

"In my years of serving with long-term care and assisted living, I've had multiple people come to me and as they're touring say, this is not for me, I'm not going to move in," Fries said.

This isn't an uncommon reaction, but the decision usually doesn't stick.

"Down the road they end up moving in, and they're my next spokesperson for, how come I didn't do this a long time ago?" Fries said.

Because making a plan for the future could be lifesaving. 

For help you can call 1.800.272.3900 the 24/7 Alzheimer's Association number, or click here. 

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