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What to do if life throws you a curveball

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POSTED: February 19, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Baseball season is just around the corner.  I love baseball because it gives me something to watch until football season starts again.
Some people say life is like a baseball game. I’m not sure who those people are, but for the sake of this article, let’s roll with that analogy.  So you are in the batter’s box and a curveball is coming right at you. As the pitch reaches the plate in the game of life, it hits you with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Wow, didn’t see that coming.  
Now what?
First thing I would do is ask for another pitch. Get a second opinion just to be sure, and if confirmed, get your coach involved and get to work. The game is far from over, so here we go.
Ask your doctor about treatment options. There are medications on the market that slow down memory loss. There is no cure right now, but research is ongoing.  Remember this is a progressive disease, so medication will not necessarily make things better, but it will slow down the progress.
Memory loss can increase the likelihood of making mistakes in other areas of your life. Decisions about taking medications, managing finances and other common activities can be affected, so plan now to have support later when it is needed. Family and friends are options for extra support. An outside “at home” agency that provides care and companionship is another. Many times, the combination of the two works well from a financial and emotional perspective. A specialized community offering memory care is a third option.
Oh yeah, the car. Driving will need to be addressed, so plan now to have that conversation. And good luck — this is an area that demands serious attention because folks do not readily give up their car keys. One suggestion is to recommend a driving evaluation at your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
Planning is critical for people dealing with Alzheimer’s. Talk with an elder-law attorney for advice.  The first consultation usually is free and well worth the effort. Make sure the attorney is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and you will be on your way to second base.
Stay mentally and physically active. Choose something you like to do because chances will be better that you will stick with it. If I had to work on a Sudoku puzzle every day to challenge my mind, I would go insane.
Eating right is a high priority. Talk to someone who knows both the disease and nutrition, but be wary of gimmicks and high-priced food supplements.  If there was a miracle food out there, we all would be hoarding it in our food pantries. Moderation still is a major factor in any diet.
Knowledge is power. Read all you can on the subject. Praying also is a very good thing. Take some advice and don’t try to handle this on your own. Every good batter has players and coaches ready and willing to support the cause. Too many times, the caregiver wears out before the Alzheimer’s patient. Then what? The Alzheimer’s Association is a good starting point for people who want to learn more.
Life can throw you a curveball at any moment. When you do get knocked down by a pitch, get up quick and be ready for the next one. Baseball is a long season.

DeLong is the executive director for The Suites at Station Exchange. Email him at  Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com.

 

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