If you have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may be experiencing a wide range of difficult emotions. From fear, confusion, despair or resentfulness, learning to cope with the emotions that accompany a dementia diagnosis takes time, especially as you learn more about your disease and what your life might look like in the future. Among the greatest concerns of newly diagnosed individuals is the fear of losing their independence. Whether you worry about burdening your loved ones or dread moving out of your home one day, the inevitable need for support may be the most challenging change to come to terms with. However, Rob Low, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Pensacola, a memory care assisted living community in Pensacola, Florida, reassures individuals with dementia that independence is still possible after a diagnosis. “Many people in the early stages of the disease continue to maintain an independent lifestyle, live alone and even continue to work,” says Low. “Additionally, those of us who work in memory care and recognize the necessary demands for support realize that the definition of independence changes for those with memory loss. Whereas independence might have used to mean living in your home with no need for support from others, perhaps it now means celebrating everything you can still do on your own, and accepting the need for help in other areas.” If you want to know how to maintain as much independence as possible following a dementia diagnosis, the team at YourLife™ suggests you prepare to change your mindset about independence and instill self-care habits to increase your longevity.
Maintaining our independence is important for all of us as we age. We don’t want to be a burden on our spouses or children, but it’s also unpleasant for us to think about “getting old.” However, for those diagnosed with dementia, remaining independent in the popular sense actual creates a lifestyle that diminishes one’s quality of life. As dementia progresses, individuals need support in order to live as fully as possible. Without the proper care, one’s possibilities for living well are lessened. For this reason, those living with dementia can benefit from viewing independence not as the absence of personal care support, but as the ability to continue living to the fullest extent possible. For example, if you eventually require a caregiver or home-care professional to help you prepare a meal or keep the house clean, this support is actually making it possible for you to maintain a high quality of life – another way of considering independence. Even if someday you need to make the move to a residential memory care community, you can still be independent by making your own choices about what you do each day, such as participating in your favorite pastimes, and enjoying the company of friends and visiting family members. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, we understand that independence often takes on a new meaning for those living with dementia. When you view independence as your ability to enjoy your best possible life, the requirements for support or assistance become tools to help you maintain an independent lifestyle, not take it away.
Tips for Remaining Independent as Long as Possible
Even though independence might change its meaning as your dementia progresses, there are still many things you can do now to maintain an independent lifestyle. Consider incorporating some of the following suggestions from the Alzheimer’s Association®:
- Educate Yourself – After your diagnosis, one of the best things you can do is learn all you can about dementia, its stages and the possible symptoms you could experience. Being aware of how your disease will affect your daily life will help you prepare to manage your symptoms and make proper plans for future care.
- Practice Self-Care – Do what you can to promote cognitive well-being. Stay physically active and eat a healthy Mediterranean diet. Continue to do activities that stimulate the brain to slow down the progression of memory loss.
- Make Plans Now – Recognize that someday, you will need greater care. Make decisions and plan for your future care now while you can still participate in the process. Let loved ones know what kind of care you would like to receive, and get your finances in order. It’s wise to legally draft a living will or set up trusts while you are still cognitively capable.
- Discover Possible Resources – If you live alone, consider your possibilities for making life easier as your disease progresses. Research local resources, such as Meals on Wheels, home health agencies, homemaker services and others, that could be useful down the road.
- Reduce Stress – Learning to cope with your diagnosis can be stressful, as can making big decisions about future care. However, reducing your stress as much as possible will be good for your health. Maybe you need to step down from a leadership position in your community, or limit traveling by asking your family members to come to you for visits.
- Accept Help – As dementia progresses, you will experience symptoms that require you to seek support from others. Do not let this discourage you. Accepting the help you need will allow you to live a better, healthier lifestyle and enjoy the activities you can still do on your own or with some support. If friends or family offer to help make your life easier in any way, graciously accept.
At YourLife™ of Pensacola, our mission is to enhance the lives of those living with memory loss. If you could use some advice on living independently with dementia, or simply wish to talk with a professional caregiver, don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.
Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles. Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more!