A recent Reader’s Digest magazine article told the story of Geri Taylor, a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 69. Although shaken by the diagnosis, Taylor was determined not to let the disease keep her from living life to its full potential, even with new challenges. Taylor didn’t worry about what others would think and decided to use the disease and her background in healthcare to assist others living with Alzheimer’s. But, not everyone reacts the same. In fact, some people urged Taylor not to tell anyone about her diagnosis. They warned her that her friends would abandon her. These people were likely affected by the Alzheimer’s stigma—a common problem affecting both people with the disease and those who fear they may have it.
The Problem of the Alzheimer’s Stigma.
The stigma goes beyond people with Alzheimer’s being reluctant to tell others they have Alzheimer’s because they worry about the way others will treat them. Some people so fear being told they have the disease that they avoid being tested for it when troubling symptoms appear. As a result, they don’t receive the care they need and deserve.
Another problem with the stigma is that older adults may become isolated because they fear making a mistake in public. At the advanced stage, family members sometimes keep seniors with Alzheimer’s at home because of concern about the reactions of others to the older adult’s behavior.
Tips for Moving Past the Stigma.
If your aging relative has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there are ways you can overcome the stigma and allow them to lead more complete lives. Some of the things you can do are:
- Open Up: Talk to people about Alzheimer’s and its role in your aging relative’s life. Be honest but avoid defining the person by their disease. Also, talk to the older adult during the early stages while they can still make decisions about future care.
- Stay Positive: When other people treat the senior’s condition like it’s just a normal part of getting older, don’t get discouraged. Use the situation as a learning experience and offer information about the disease. Don’t take their denial of the condition personally.
- Encourage Involvement: Encourage the older adult to remain involved with family and friends. People with Alzheimer’s can still lead fulfilling lives and have the same needs and desires as everyone else. They just might need a little more understanding and accommodation as the disease worsens.
A senior care provider can assist your family member in overcoming Alzheimer’s stigma by allowing them to stay involved and active. Senior care providers can drive older adults to social functions and other activities, so that they can continue to enjoy their lives even when they are no longer able to drive safely. Senior care providers can also be helpers and advocates in public situations when your family member becomes confused or disoriented.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional senior care in Trussville, AL, call and talk to the staff at Lipford Home Care (205) 623-5700.