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What to do after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

There are real benefits to getting your loved one seen by a doctor earlier rather than later. Getting a medical assessment for your loved one could also relieve anxiety if the symptoms you’re concerned about aren’t related to Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll help you understand why it’s helpful to get an early diagnosis and provide some practical next steps you can take—if you or your loved one are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s: benefits of getting diagnosed early

While it may be frightening to embrace the possibility of an Alzheimer's diagnosis—don’t put it off. A medical diagnosis could give you or your loved one: 
  • Access to treatment options 
  • An opportunity to participate in clinical trials 
  • A chance to prioritize healthy habits that may help 
  • Lessening anxiety about symptoms 
  • More time to plan for the future 
  • Cost savings 
Learn more at Alzheimer's Association, Why get checked? 

Alzheimer’s: after the diagnosis

Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia isn’t easy, for either the person living with dementia or their family and friends. It's not unusual to grieve over the present losses or the expectation of future changes. The more you educate yourself, the more confident and prepared you may feel about the future. Knowing what to expect and putting plans in place can empower you and your loved one. Speaking with a therapist or counselor could also help with feelings of depression and anxiety. 

Update legal documents, financial accounts 

Cognitive deterioration could eventually keep you or your loved one from being able to manage finances or live independently. There are a number of administrative things you can start to take care of to plan for the future. Make a list and work your way through it—that can help you and your loved one feel more in control. 

Consider getting some of these items created or updated as needed: 

  • Power of attorney 
  • Health care proxy 
  • HIPAA authorization forms 
  • Living will 
  • Estate plan 
  • Joint bank account 
  • Website and social media logins  

Learn more about the legal and financial things you can do now to help your loved one manage their affairs. It’s also a good idea to have relevant documentation kept together in a safe place for easy access. 

Create a care plan 

No matter how unpleasant it may seem, talking openly about the care and support that may be needed, specifically living arrangements and day-to-day care, can reduce distress later. Start the discussion about the available options early. 

Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's

As Alzheimer's progresses, the caregiver's role changes. Early-stage care can largely involve generalized support and getting things administratively in order. Middle- and later-stage care requires more hands-on help, which can increase dramatically over time. In the later stage, your loved one will be entirely dependent on others for their care.  
There can be special challenges associated with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia. Those challenges can evolve and change as the disease or condition progresses. As a caregiver, you may have to navigate difficult and distressing symptoms and behaviors in your loved one, including:  
  • Anxiety and agitation 
  • Anger and suspicion 
  • Wandering 
  • Confusion 
Be aware that no two people experience Alzheimer’s or dementia in the same way, with all the same symptoms. The disease progression can range from 4–8 years or as long as 20. You can learn more about how to help your loved one with these symptoms through the Alzheimer's Association®

Alzheimer’s resources

  • ALZNavigatorTM: Find resources to help assess your or your loved one’s needs and create an action plan. 
  • Community Resource Finder: Get easy access to community programs, housing options, medical services, and other resources. 
  • ALZConnected®: Connect with other people affected by dementia. 

Start a conversation

We'll meet you where you are on your financial journey and help you get to where you want to be.

More to explore

Create an action plan: ALZNavigator

Resources and tools to help you navigate each step of the disease.

Resources and learning: ALZConnected®

Get support from an online community of Alzheimer’s caregivers.

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.

Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.