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Early Alzheimer's Disease
Patient and Family Guide

© Agency for Health Care Policy and Research

Recognizing Alzheimer's disease in its early stages, when treatment may relieve mild symptoms, gives you time to adjust. During this time, you and your family can make financial, legal, and medical plans for the future.

Coordinating Care
Your health care team may include your family doctor and medical specialists such as psychiatrists or neurologists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, social workers, and counselors. They can work together to help you understand your condition, suggest memory aids, and tell you and your family about ways you can stay independent as long as possible.

Talk with your doctors about activities that could be dangerous for you or others, such as driving or cooking. Explore different ways to do things.

Telling Family and Friends
Ask your doctor for help in telling people who need to know that you have Alzheimer's disease members of your family, friends, and coworkers, for example.

Alzheimer's disease is stressful for you and your family. You and your caregiver will need support from others. Working together eases the stress on everyone.

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Where To Get Help?

Learning that you have Alzheimer's disease can be very hard to deal with. It is important to share your feelings with family and friends.

Many kinds of help are available for persons with Alzheimer's disease, their families, and caregivers. Turn to the back of this booklet for a list of resources for patients and families. These resources include:

  • Support groups. Sometimes it helps to talk things over with other people and families who are coping with Alzheimer's disease. Families and friends of people with Alzheimer's disease have formed support groups. The Alzheimer's Association has active groups across the country. Many hospitals also sponsor education programs and support groups to help patients and families.
  • Financial and medical planning. Time to plan can be a major benefit of identifying Alzheimer's disease early. You and your family will need to decide where you will live and who will provide help and care when you need them.
  • Legal matters. It is also important to think about certain legal matters. An attorney can give you legal advice and help you and your family make plans for the future. A special document called an advance directive lets others know what you would like them to do if you become unable to think clearly or speak for yourself.
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Other Booklets Are Available

The information in this booklet is based on Recognition and Initial Assessment of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias: Clinical Practice Guideline No. 19. The Clinical Practice Guideline is scheduled to be released later this year (Winter 1996). A multidisciplinary panel of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, nurses, a geriatrician, a social worker, and two consumer representatives developed the guideline. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supported its development. Other AHCPR guidelines may be helpful to families affected by Alzheimer's disease. They include:
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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.