Even though you have received a life-changing diagnosis, there is much to be said for maintaining a good quality of life. Most people in the early stage find that they are able to continue doing many of the things they enjoy without letting their illness get in the way. However, there may also be days when you find that it becomes harder to motivate yourself and stay involved in daily activities. When this happens, it’s often better to push yourself and not give in to the urge to stay in bed later than you ordinarily would or to just sit at home and do nothing. It can be more beneficial to do things like take a walk, go shopping, or talk with a friend rather than to isolate yourself from life and those around you. During the early stage, you still have a lot of choices to make when it comes to deciding how to spend your days and live your life. Following are some things you can do to help you keep a positive outlook on life, in spite of your diagnosis.
Maintaining Your Physical, Mental and Emotional Health
Research has shown that a good diet and regular exercise can help you to stay strong and healthy. In fact, exercise is emerging as a very beneficial way to boost brain health. Studies show that as little as 30 minutes of brisk walking each day can improve blood flow to the brain and elevate your mood. Practicing tai chi is shown to reduce stress, improve balance, and increase energy levels. Besides being a fun social activity, dancing is another good way to relieve tension and it can also help you burn those excess calories. Other types of exercise including bicycling, running, working out at the gym, skating or swimming can all be beneficial to your health.
Use it or lose it! Research supports the importance of exercising the brain. Although there is no evidence that brain exercises will improve the memory of a person with Alzheimer’s, there is absolutely no harm in keeping your brain stimulated and active.
Some of the ways you can give yourself a mental workout are by taking a class, playing cards or word games such as Scrabble, listening to music, attending lectures, visiting museums, and by engaging in thought-provoking discussions with friends or family. Whatever you may choose to do, the goal is to challenge yourself by doing activities that you don’t normally do. In this way, you’ll be exercising a lot more brain muscle and you’ll feel better about yourself.
People who have been diagnosed with dementia often find that talking about their situation can be helpful. If you’re experiencing feelings of isolation, sadness, fear, frustration, or anger you may want to join a group with other early-stage people. A support group can provide you with a comfortable outlet for expressing your feelings. A support group is also a place where you can talk about what it’s like to cope with this diagnosis and get good advice from others who are in the same situation as you are. As one member of our weekly support group said, “I really love coming here because it makes me feel like I’m not alone, and people really understand what I’m going through.”
For more information about programs at the Early Stage Center, click here.