“Now What?” Next Steps After a Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease from the National Institute on Aging, NIH

October 31, 2017

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult, but getting accurate information and support can help you know what to expect and what to do next. Use this checklist to get started.

Learn about Alzheimer’s disease

Being informed will help you know what to expect as the disease progresses. Here are some resources:

  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: 1-866-232-8484; www.alzfdn.org
  • Local hospitals: May have educational programs about Alzheimer’s disease/dementia.

Get regular medical care

  • Make regular appointments with your primary care doctor or specialist (neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, geriatric psychiatrist).
  • Consider going to a specialized memory disorders clinic. Ask your doctor for a referral if desired.

Find local services and support

  • Find local services by contacting Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116; eldercare.gov
  • Find your local Alzheimer’s organization, such as an Alzheimer’s Association Chapter: 1-800-272-3900; www.alz.org/apps/findus.asp
  • Find local member organizations and providers affiliated with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: 1-866-232-8484; alzfdn.org
  • Contact relevant local healthcare and social service agencies.

 Do some legal, financial, and long-term care planning

  • Prepare or update your will, living will, healthcare power of attorney, and financial power of To find a lawyer, contact your local bar association or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: www.naela.org
  • Learn about care you may need in the future and how to pay for it: longtermcare.gov
  • Explore getting help to pay for medicines, housing, transportation, and Visit the National Council on Aging: www.benefitscheckup.org

 Get help as needed with day-to-day tasks

  • Use simple memory aids like a notepad or sticky notes to jot down reminders, a pillbox to keep medications organized, and a calendar to record appointments.
  • Ask family members or friends or find local services to help with routine tasks, such as cooking, paying bills, transportation, or shopping.
  • Consider using technology solutions for medication management, safety (e.g., emergency response, door alarms), and other care.
  • See tips about coping daily, sharing your diagnosis, changes in relationships, and more: alz.org/living_with_alzheimers.asp.

Be safe at home

  • Ask your doctor to order a home-safety evaluation and recommend a home health care agency to conduct it. Medicare may cover the cost.
  • Consider joining the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® program: alz.org/care/dementia-medic-alert-safe-return.asp

 Stay safe on the road

 Consider participating in a clinical trial

Stay healthy

  • Be active! Getting exercise helps people with Alzheimer’s feel better and helps keep their muscles, joints, and heart in good shape. For tips, see nia.nih.gov/Go4Life.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products: nia. nih.gov/health/publication/whats-your-plate
  • Continue to enjoy visits with family and friends, hobbies, and outings.

If you live alone

  • Identify someone who can visit you regularly and be an emergency contact.
  • If you are at risk of falling, order an emergency response system. A special pendant or bracelet lets you summon help if you fall and can’t reach the the phone.
  • Consider working with an occupational therapist. This person can teach you ways to stay independent. Ask your doctor for more information.
  • Get tips about self-care, preventing falls, staying connected, and more: alz.org/i-have-alz/if you-live-alone.asp
  • Stick with familiar places, people, and Simplify Your Life.

If you are working

  • If you have problems performing your job, consider reducing your hours or switching to a less demanding position.
  • Consult your employer’s HR department or employee assistance program about family leave, disability benefits, and other employee benefits.
  • Find out if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits through “compassionate allowances.” Visit socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances or call 1-800-722-1213.

NIH, National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center, April 2016

Locally, if you have questions, concerns, a need for help, contact PA HOME CARE of Lancaster at 717-464-2006 or by email to PAHC@pa-homecare.com.  We’ll be glad to help.

Isolation and the Older Adult by Kathy Spence

May 16, 2016

Sad older woman










Recently much has been said about “sitting being the new smoking” when it comes to health risks.  For our senior population another risk has been well known in anecdotal form, but much less well documented.  That is the inherent risk associated with social isolation as it relates to chronic depression.  According to the National Institute on Health, frequent feelings of loneliness are linked to higher rates of infection, cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, depression, morbidity and mortality.  This risk is magnified among our older population as they are facing retirement and a perceived loss of self as well as health limitations and possibly disabilities limiting their mobility and ability to do all of the things they want to do.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Older adults, in particular, have shown an ability to thrive with a minimal level of social connectedness.  Even a small social network, church activities, volunteering, visits with family, etc. can bring a level of satisfaction much greater than the lack of same can lead to health issues, particularly depression.  However, this is not a “one size fits all” resolution.  Some folks are happy with little outside contact while others crave more activity.    This is the difference between actual social disconnectedness and perceived isolation.  One elder who appears to be socially disconnected may, in fact, thrive on a certain level of contented solitude.  Another apparently active senior may feel unsupported and not intimate in their relationships and actually perceive themself as isolated.  Ask your older loved one the following questions; “How often do you feel that you lack companionship?” “How often do you feel left out?” and “How often do you feel isolated from others?”  Their answers will be very telling.


Sad older man










So what do we do?  First and foremost, you must know the senior adult that you are concerned about.  Not just know who they are and what their physical needs are, but know them as a person.  What do they enjoy, who do they enjoy time with, what would a perfect day look like to this individual?  Now, how do we get them there?  What resources are available to the elder and their family? What is reasonable and sustainable?  For instance, if regular family time is what your senior craves, is it possible to have a standing date every week, every month, whatever works for you and your family?  If church and activities revolving around church is enjoyable, does the church have transportation available or any kind of outreach program for those at home?  If regular exercise is what’s most enjoyable, a walk can do wonders and can be done with a “buddy” for companionship and safety.  Senior centers are often a viable option and can best be approached on a temporary basis with enough time allowed for the elder to build friendships and enjoy the socialization.  Following are a few more suggestions:

*  Courses in the following, often leading to clubs or informal gatherings to do same; Cooking, Crafting, Computer/Internet, Bird-Watching, Gardening, or any other new activity.

*  Volunteering; opportunities abound across many areas of need; hospitals, churches, schools, public service organizations, also check with your local United Way.

*  Exercise programs geared specifically towards the older adult; check with your local YMCA, Office of Aging, or Senior Centers, as well as Health Clubs in your area.

The possibilities are really endless if approached from a position of what can we do, instead of what the senior is no longer able to do.  At PA HOME CARE we are happy to help in any way that we can.  We’re available by the hour or by the day and anything in between.                                                                                                                    grandparentslrg

Call us today and let’s talk @ (717) 464-2006.

PA HOME CARE of Lancaster;

“With Hearts and Hands, We Care”,

about you and the elder loved one in your life.




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