Local experts weigh in on how to navigate an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Experts recommend that caretakers serve as advocates, but remember not to neglect their own health in the process.
Experts recommend that caretakers serve as advocates, but remember not to neglect their own health in the process.
Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - According to the Alzheimer’s Association, roughly 180,000 individuals are living with Alzheimer’s disease in North Carolina.

That number is expected to go up to 200,000 by the year 2025.

“We are somewhat disproportionately impacted as a state,” Katherine Lambert, the CEO of the Western Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said. “If you look at the demographics, we’re obviously a rapidly growing state, but we’re also a rapidly growing state in the north of 65 population.”

Lambert wants people to know there are resources available to help every step of the way, starting with that first conversation you may have to have with a loved one.

“Having some of those open-ended questions about you know these are some of the things I’m just I’m really concerned about you,” she said. “Opening that in as non-threatening a way as possible.”

Dr. Robert Wiggins, a neurologist with Novant Health, says caretakers play an integral role in helping doctors create a plan.

“One of the things that I find helpful is to start taking notes to really remember very specific situations where we’ve noticed or kind of questioned whether there might be something going on,” Dr. Wiggins said. “If someone has a change today compared to five years ago, that’s really, really important.”

While there’s no definitive cure, experts say there’s never been more research and new medications on the horizon, and there’s reason to have hope.

“If we just sit at home and don’t interact with the people that we care about, don’t address our sleep issues, don’t address our chronic pain, don’t address our anxiety, then it will probably get worse,” he said. “But if we address these things and try to make them better, then I have hope that people can at least feel a little bit better and have an increased quality of life.”

The Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to Know the 10 Signs that your loved one might have dementia. Click here for that information.

You can also call their 24/7 helpline for support as a patient or a caregiver at 1-800-272-3900.