Being diagnosed with a dementia like Alzheimer's is intimidating. To know that your future involves cognitive decline and lack of personal control, is very frightening. In this sharepost I have put together a few strategies that I know can help to reduce stress and help you maximize your coping strategies.
Negative feelings such as anger, disappointment and feeling a failure can overwhelm you at first as you lose confidence and self-esteem. Anxiety and fear are common emotions when you are diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's, and many other types of dementia such as vascular dementia , Pick's disease or Lewy Body dementia .
Strategies for Reducing Stress That We know Work
When you have Alzheimer's you have to work harder at all the things you do. You want to be as self sufficient as possible and one way people with dementia manage this is by developing their own strategies, such as:
- Memory aids. Making lists and notes, reminder boards wall charts/chalk boards with daily events/things you have to do, times and people involved with event.
- Alarms/electronic reminders of ‘to do's'. Medicine dispensers. This interesting sharepost by Leah, who has vascular dementia gives some ideas for memory aids.
- Stay organised and keep the things you need and use a lot close at hand. Organization develops into routines and these are , mostly, retained for longer.
- Slow down and give yourself time. Make others give you sufficient time to complete tasks.
- Simplify daily schedules.
- Maintain your routine if possible. This is going to be very important throughout the rest of your life and will help you maintain your independence for as long as possible.
- Reduce demands you make on yourself and focus on what is most important to you.
Avoid Challenging Situations?
This is a highly individual de-stress technique. Do you avoid all challenging situations or do you adapt and make the best job of dealing with them? Many people with dementias such as Alzheimer's do use the avoidance technique.
If social situations are a particularly stressful thing for you, do risk making yourself more socially isolated as it can feed into negative thoughts. Maybe avoiding the most stressful social situation then becomes a better option. Maybe taking a family member will help reduce anxiety? You have to decide.
Finding and Accepting Help
Some people who have early stage Alzheimer's find minimising or even denial that anything is wrong becomes their coping strategy. Comparing yourself with others who have greater memory loss or normalizing the effects of the disease do reduce stress but may cause you more problems in the long run.
One of the most difficult aspects of Alzheimer's is becoming less independent and relying on the help of others a little more. However, seeking and accepting help is one of the most important of all the coping strategies. How you accept that help is totally up to you.