The number of individuals being identified with early stage Alzheimer’s disease has grown in recent years. For the individual with the disease as well as for family members, the period of time surrounding a diagnosis can be frightening and overwhelming.
Professionals in the field of Alzheimer’s disease care are responding to this population growth by developing new educational and support programs for people living with the disease. Many of these programs focus on strategies to cope with memory loss, treatment and research options, diagnostic disclosure, and planning for the future. Strong components of the programs also include the opportunity to share information and insights with others with a similar diagnosis.
Research is beginning to show that involvement in early stage education programs can enhance quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Participants gain knowledge to cope with and understand their disease. Additionally, research shows that participation in an educational program can promote changes in behavior that include exercise and diet modifications as well as increased participation in financial and health planning. Finally, participants in these education programs were more likely to seek out support and to join an ongoing early stage support group.
With a growing number of early stage education and support groups available, the evidence shows that these programs can offer great benefit to individuals as they learn to cope with and live with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.