The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter, will participate in Union Station’s Annual Charity Drive on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Proceeds collected by our volunteers will go toward providing information, support, programming and services for the more than half million Illinois residents affected by Alzheimer’s throughout the 68 counties we serve. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Bethany Hein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847.779.6952.
Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is difficult. In fact, it’s life-changing. It’s normal to experience a range of emotions, but coming to terms with your diagnosis can help you accept it, move forward, and discover new ways to live a positive and fulfilling life.
Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is never easy — it’s life changing. It is normal to experience a range of emotions. Acknowledging your feelings can be an empowering first step in coping with the challenges ahead.
Emotions you may have
You noticed symptoms. You made a doctor’s appointment. You took tests. And you felt a roller coaster of emotions — fear, hope, despair, denial. Then you received a diagnosis. You may have felt numb, unsure of how to respond or where to turn.
You also may be grieving over the present losses you are experiencing, or the expectation of future changes as the disease progresses. It can be helpful to identify and understand some of the emotions you may experience after receiving your diagnosis.
These emotions may include:
- Anger. Your life is taking a different course than the one you and your family had planned. You cannot control the course of the disease.
- Relief. The changes you were experiencing were cause for concern. A diagnosis validated these concerns by assigning a name to your symptoms.
- Denial. The diagnosis seems impossible to believe. You may feel overwhelmed by how your life will change as a result of Alzheimer’s.
- Depression. You may feel sad or hopeless about the way your life is changing.
- Resentment. You may be asking yourself what you did to deserve your diagnosis or why this is happening to you and not someone else.
- Fear. You may be fearful of the future and how your family will be affected.
- Isolation. You may feel as if no one understands what you’re going through or lose interest in maintaining relationships with others.
- Sense of loss. It may be difficult to accept changes in your abilities.
If these feelings linger week after week, you may be dealing with depression or anxiety. Feeling depressed or anxious about your diagnosis is common, but both can be successfully treated.
> Learn more about symptoms of depression
Taking care of your emotional needs
Coming to terms with your diagnosis and the emotions you are feeling will help you accept your diagnosis, move forward, and discover new ways to live a positive and fulfilling life.
You are the only person who can change how you feel about your diagnosis. So it’s important to find healthy ways to deal with your emotions. This can be difficult at the beginning. But once you make the commitment to take care of your emotional needs, you may find that you can rise to the challenge and face your diagnosis. This is a new phase of your life, and you can choose to experience it with sense of connection to your emotional health.
When working through your feelings, try a combination of approaches. The following tips may be helpful:
- Write down your thoughts and feelings about your diagnosis in a journal.
- You may find your friends and family struggling with your diagnosis and their feelings. Learn more about how you can help family and friends.
- Share your feelings with close family and friends. Speak open and honestly about your feelings.
- Surround yourself with a good support system that includes individuals who are also living in the early stage of the disease and understand what you’re going through. Join our message boards or learn more about support programs.
- Join an early-stage support group. It can provide you with a safe and supportive environment of peers. To find a support group in your area, check with your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.
- Talk to your doctor if you or others are concerned about your emotional well-being. Your doctor can determine the most appropriate treatment plan to address your concerns.
- Seek help from a counselor or clergy member. He or she can help you to see things in a new way and help you understand more fully what you are feeling.
- If you are feeling misunderstood or stereotyped because of your diagnosis, learn what you can do to overcome stigma.
- Stay engaged. Continue to do the activities you enjoy for as long as you are able.
- Take the time you need to feel sad, mourn and grieve.
You are not alone
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can leave you feeling disconnected, isolated or abandoned from others. You may feel unsure of where to turn and that no one can possibly understand what you’re going through. People living with early-stage Alzheimer’s have stated that one of the most important lessons they learned early on in their diagnosis is this: they could not just wait for others to help them – they had to go out and help themselves to the best of their ability.
Whenever facing difficult times, having a good support network you can turn to for advice and encouragement may help you feel socially connected and give you a sense of belonging and purpose. Make sure your network includes other people who are living in the early stage of the disease. Connecting with others like you may help put your own experiences living with the disease in perspective, and provide you with the support and encouragement necessary to move beyond your diagnosis.
> Learn more about support programs
> Connect with others like you on our message boards
Questions for your doctor
After receiving your diagnosis, it’s normal to leave your doctor’s office unsure of what questions to ask. You just received life-changing news, and you need time to absorb this information and understand what it means for you and your family.
Your doctor is an important member of your care team. Use the opportunity to ask your doctor questions about your diagnosis, all the available options, and the benefits and risks of each choice you make.
You may be asking: “How do I know what to ask my doctor?”
Members of our Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group have shared their own experiences and questions they wish they had asked their doctors. You may find this information helpful as you develop your own list of questions.
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
- What test(s) or tools did you use to determine my diagnosis?
- What are you measuring with the tests you performed?
- How will the disease progress?
- What can I expect in the future?
- What treatment options are available?
- Which symptoms are being targeting by each medication?
- What clinical trials are available?
- Where can I find published information about clinical treatment studies?
- How familiar are you with Alzheimer’s disease? Will you be managing my care going forward?
- If I need to be hospitalized, will you be able to provide care in this setting?
Care and support
- What resources are available to help me learn more about my diagnosis? My family?
- What support services are available to help me live well with the disease, for as long as possible?
When taking a trip to visit friends and family over the holidays, it’s important to consider the difficulties and benefits of travel for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. In the early stages, a person may still enjoy traveling; as the disease progresses, travel may become too overwhelming
We are excited to announce a formal collaboration between the Alzheimer’s Association ®, Greater Illinois Chapter and the Chinese American Service League (CASL). Both organizations share common priorities and interests in reaching the Chinese community with important messages relating to Alzheimer’s detection, diagnosis, care, treatment, research and advocacy.
We are excited to announce a formal collaboration between Chinese American Service League (CASL) and the Alzheimer’s Association ®, Greater Illinois Chapter. This is an exciting partnership that draws upon the unique knowledge of both organizations to achieve common goals.
The Greater Illinois Chapter will partner with CASL to elevate training for CASL’s team of care professionals working though CASL’s Elderly Service Department. Both organizations share common priorities and interests in reaching the Chinese community with important messages relating to Alzheimer’s detection, diagnosis, care, treatment, research and advocacy.
CASL is committed to finding ways to engage the Chinese community in the fight against Alzheimer’s through education, support, and grass root activation.
Alzheimer’s Disease affects more than 5 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the Unites States.
Overview of Partnership
This collaboration addresses internal and external needs for Alzheimer’s information and support within the Chinese community and engages the Chinese community in the full mission of the Alzheimer’s Association. With an emphasis on training, support, and grassroots activation overlaid with a focus on the unique needs of the Chinese community, this promises to be an evolving partnership that engages both organizations for a long period of time.
CASL and the Greater Illinois Chapter are committed to a strategic and multipronged partnership approach that will evolve as we identify needs, learn best practices, understand the unique cultural needs of the community and explore additional opportunities to engage the Chinese community in the full mission of the Alzheimer’s Association. The current key initiatives of this collaboration are further defined below and include:
– Co-development of culturally–appropriate Alzheimer’s training
– Establishment of support groups within the Chinese community at CASL
– Identification and/or creation of materials in Chinese language
– Culturally-sensitive training for Greater Illinois Chapter staff to learn how to engage with the Chinese community
Key Initiatives Defined
Culturally Appropriate Training
This collaboration provides both organizations with an opportunity to draw from the unique experiences, challenges and knowledge of the other. CASL and Greater Illinois Chapter staff will co-develop training for the Chinese community about Alzheimer’s disease. Association staff will teach key English-speaking CASL staff to deliver the training and who will, in turn, teach their Chinese speaking fellow staff to deliver the training. The opportunity will afford each partner the chance to identify and address the challenges of working in two different languages.
The Greater Illinois Chapter will include key representatives from CASL in support group training and assist in the formation of one or more groups at CASL’s location in Chinatown.
Both parties will seek to identify materials that are already translated in Chinese and available for CASL to establish an Alzheimer’s resource center on site at their facility.
Culturally-Sensitive Training for GIC Staff
CASL will provide training to Greater Illinois Chapter staff about the Chinese community to improve GIC’s ability to engage with the Chinese community.
Additional activities have been identified for expansion of the partnership at the appropriate time.
About the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter:
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter serves 68 counties in Illinois. Since 1980, the Chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes.
About Chinese American Service League (CASL)
A nurturing hub within the heart of Chinatown, the Chinese American Service League (CASL) connects families and individuals of all ages with the vital support they need to thrive and contribute to the greater Chicago community. CASL is the largest, most comprehensive social service agency in the Midwest dedicated to serving the needs of Chinese Americans. We provide child services, elder services, employment training services, family counseling, and housing and financial education to over 17,000 clients of all ages and backgrounds each year.
Our resources for Alzheimer’s disease caregivers can help during the holidays
Handling the daily duties of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is hard work and may be more difficult during the holiday season. The Alzheimer’s Association is here for you with resources and support. Our Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and ALZConnected, our online community, can help you cope.
The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call us toll-free anytime day or night at 1.800.272.3900.
Our 24/7 Helpline serves people with memory loss, caregivers, health care professionals and the public.
Our highly trained and knowledgeable staff can help you with:
- Understanding memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Medications and other treatment options
- General information about aging and brain health
- Skills to provide quality care and to find the best care from professionals
- Legal, financial and living-arrangement decisions
Our 24/7 Helpline also features:
- Confidential care consultation provided by master’s level clinicians who can help with decision-making support, crisis assistance and education on issues families face every day
- Help in a caller’s preferred language using our translation service that features over 170 languages and dialects
- Referrals to local community programs, services and ongoing support
Call us 24/7: 1.800.272.3900