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2272481Alzheimer’s is a devastating diagnosis to hear, but accepting, treating and planning early can greatly minimize the disruptive impact of this progressively degenerative disease.

The first step, when Alzheimer’s is suspected, is a thorough medical evaluation complete with tests to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms, which can actually be the result of reversible causes such as depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies.

In the early stage of dementia, once it is confirmed, it is wise to put financial and legal plans in place so the senior can express his or her wishes for future care and decisions, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA). The path forward can involve complex issues involved in long-term care. Safety and well-being are the focus during this time.

Wandering and getting lost is common among people with dementia and can happen during any stage of the disease. A person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time. It’s important to plan ahead for this type of situation by having a routine to provide structure, identifying the most likely times of day that wandering may occur, offering reassurances to them, ensuring all basic needs are being met, and avoiding busy places like shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy locations.

“Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm,” AA advises on its website, http://www.alz.org/

“Never lock the person with dementia in at home alone or leave him or her in a car without supervision.”

The designated caregiver needs to establish routine habits, encourage regular exercise to improve the senior’s mood and maintain the health of joints, muscles and the heart, plus provide meals with good nutrition. It comes as no surprise that being the caregiver involves a lot of responsibility and can lead to feelings of stress and social isolation.

One option for those who need help is Pathways Memory Care, North Georgia’s Specialty Care Assisted Living Community located within Rosewood Retirement Community. In this special care center, apartments are located on the secured wing of the 2nd floor. This special unit provides limited-access key-pad security, their own dining area, and both private and semi-private accommodations.

Beyond the practical matter of providing around-the-clock care in a secure environment, the social engagement and intellectual stimulation found in a community like Pathways Memory Care may be a good fit for North Georgia seniors and their families who are coming to grips with dementia.

To learn more about Rosewood Retirement Community, call (706) 866-4443. For information and resources from the Alzheimer’s Association, visit http://www.alz.org/