My mother was just diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, she is only 49 years old and I’m terribly scared, not only for her but for myself and my whole family, I also have an almost 10-year-old little sister and we are lost at how to tell her how sick my mom is. I don’t really know how to cope. It all started with her forgetting about simple things now it all has come to this and I’m just scared.

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“Dear Rachael, my mother was just diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, she is only 49 years old and I’m terribly scared, not only for her but for myself and my whole family, I also have an almost 10-year-old little sister and we are lost at how to tell her how sick my mom is. I don’t really know how to cope. It all started with her forgetting about simple things now it all has come to this and I’m just scared.”

I’m really sorry that this has happened to you and your family. If it were me, I would just tell my younger sister to expect some changes with mom–she’s probably too young to completely understand. It sounds like it’s still pretty early in the diagnosis, so I would also talk to your mom and other family members about the future. I’m sure she’s been to a physician, but I would also encourage her to get on Aricept or another drug to slow the progression of the disease. There have been a lot of studies showing that a combination of these drugs, physical exercise, and healthy eating can actually reverse and slow some effects of the disease.

It’s going to be hard, but I feel like you’re already more prepared than other people in your position because you’re reaching out for help. You may need to slowly become your mom’s guide and helping hand. She’s going to be upset and frustrated, so try to be patient with her memory. As hard as it is, you’re going to be her champion through this because she’s going to need your love and assistance.

You can contact me directly via my email in my “About” page.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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