While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early onset Alzheimer’s patients are proving that the best treatment for the disease is to stay as active as possible for as long as possible. Early-onset Alzheimer’s is defined as those cases diagnosed in people younger than 65 years. While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is depressing at any age, an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis is particularly devastating. Furthermore, it is quite difficult to diagnose early onset Alzheimer’s, even if the patient displays clear signs of Alzheimer’s. Doctors first assume other diagnoses, and it is only through a process of elimination that Alzheimer’s is eventually diagnosed.
So how are early onset Alzheimer’s patients staying active? Cindy Kolick, a professional theater actor, first presented signs of Alzheimer’s at the early age of 42 and was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 52. Alzheimer’s disease forced her to resign from her profession; nonetheless, she remains as active as possible. She sings in the chorus at the residential complex she lives in, exercises, and participates in online Alzheimer’s drug studies on a daily basis. Another early-onset Alzheimer’s case is that of Pati Hoffman. Hoffman used to have a corporate marketing job but was forced to leave it with the early diagnosis at aged 55. Hoffman now speaks about her struggles at events and continues to stay active by volunteering at the local food bank and walking.
Doctors and nurses also recommend that early onset Alzheimer’s patients join support groups. As Danielle Arends, a nurse practitioner stresses, Alzheimer’s disease “can be an isolating disease”. A peer support group, staying active, and medication to treat dementia, will aid in the fight against the onset of Alzheimer symptoms.
With all this in mind, here is the Prescription Point checklist for ways to stay active when diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s:
- Daily exercise is essential for promoting both mental and physical health. Chose something therapeutic and repetitive. If you enjoy yoga, make yoga a daily excursion. If you enjoy swimming, take up swimming. If you enjoy walking, go on walks with your dogs or your friends!
- Continue doing what you are passionate about, just do it on a smaller scale. In Kolick’s case, this meant continuing singing, just not at the professional level; while in Arends’ case, she continues to fulfill a leadership role by speaking at conferences and events about her personal struggles.
- It goes without saying that this illness requires medical treatment – both with therapy and medicine. Follow the directions of your doctor and take whatever dementia medication prescribed. Attend personal counseling sessions and peer support groups.