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A Proactive Approach to Alzheimer's

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PAUSE to Thrive

Life, and even joy, are not over with an Alzheimer's diagnosis. The hundreds of families who have experienced our Alzheimer’s Discovery™ program over the last 20 years understand this reality.

Our family-focused research shows that a strategic approach to mindset and daily life habits, combined with prescribed medications, is vitally important. Our training promotes a mindset that reframes a diagnosis, focusing on potential rather than current or anticipated loss. Feeling discouraged or fearful is natural, but Alzheimer’s Discovery can prepare you to move forward with intention.

Our message is simple: Don’t panic. Push P.A.U.S.E. This tactical (and practical!) brain strategy consists of five empowering components – Purpose, Acceptance, Understanding, Support and Energy.

P.A.U.S.E. Keys to Reframe

PURPOSE Continue to invest in your world
ACCEPTANCE Focus on what you can change
UNDERSTANDING Give each other the benefit of the doubt
SUPPORT Keep the people around you in your life
ENERGY Reset your brain throughout the day
Shot of a mature senior couple using a digital tablet while relaxing at home

Purpose

Purpose is what gives meaning to life and fuels our brain energy. Purpose is how you engage with your world. It gets us out of bed in the morning. It is the "why" behind all we do. Without that "why" – everything we do becomes more difficult, mundane and draining.

Purpose can come from many places, like love of family, faith, creativity, helping others ... The list is endless. Whatever motivates you – that’s is what gives you purpose. We all need to know our life still matters and can continue to bring value to our world, including people with Alzheimer’s. The activities that gave you a sense of purpose before a diagnosis can continue to motivate and shape your life moving forward.

An elderly woman is thinking deeply while holding her glasses. Pensive. Older.

Acceptance

Part of acceptance is the willingness to share your diagnosis. Allow yourself time to adjust to a new reality, but try not to let fear keep you from enjoying life. Some friends or family may pull away, but other people will surprise you. You may need to practice new ways of communicating your needs to those around you.

Sharing a concrete idea or clear task that would help – “Can you take Joy to get a manicure each week?” – can be an incredible motivator for people who want to support you but don't know how. This approach requires that you be willing to ask for help and accept help when offered.  

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Understanding

“Once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, everything is suspect,” points out Audette Rackley, assistant director of strengths-based programs. "In the early years, people with Alzheimer’s have a great deal of insight into their difficulties and still want to feel a sense of purpose." 

Conversely, care partners can sometimes help too much or have difficulty knowing when or how to help. Keep communication open. Both parties need to find balance through understanding. A general rule of thumb: if the person is safe, let them try.

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Support

Acceptance creates a doorway to support, and support makes us stronger by redistributing the load. Some of the best people you can have on your team are people who are on the same journey. 

There is nothing as exhilarating as sharing with someone who truly understands, or hearing someone put your thoughts into words and make sense of your feelings. Building your support team and finding ways to connect with a community reminds you that you are not alone.

Diverse group of senior adults coming together at a support group and listening attentively to one another. Male and female.

Energy 

Energy is about fuel – gas for our car, power for our cell phones and more than just food to energize our brains. Too often, caregivers and people with a diagnosis find themselves depleted of energy needed to make positive changes happen.

On a scale of one to ten, how do you feel you physically? Mentally? Emotionally? If you’re exhausted, you need to find a way to recharge each day. You know your car can’t run on empty, and neither can you. You can’t store up energy. Your brain energy must be refueled day by day.

Personal Stories of Alzheimer’s Told by Participants

Hundreds of families have participated in Alzheimer’s Discovery™ over the last 20 years. Our approach is unique because we …

  • Target families soon after a diagnosis

  • Focus on potential rather than loss

  • Communicate strategies that enhance quality of life

  • Care for both the diagnosed and the care partner

  • Discuss challenges in terms of brain health

Start watching by clicking play, or enjoy the series on YouTube. Each story is unique and provides a personal point of view for how to manage a diagnosis and move forward.

The Engaged in Living video series was made possible by AWARE


Assistant director of strengths-based programs Audette Rackley introduces the video series with insights from participants about ways in which the program has transformed their lives.

Alzheimer's Discovery Program

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We are here to help families with a diagnosis or individuals who have noticed changes in themselves or a loved one.  Our goal is to help families realize continued potential and enjoyment of life while they forge a positive path in the midst of a diagnosis – by pushing pause, setting a plan and then moving forward with intention.

Alzheimer's Discovery is moving online to reach more families. We expect our program to be available May 2022. Please read more information and fill out the form to receive updates.

The Center for BrainHealth is a research center focused on cognitive neuroscience. We are not medical, and our events, programs and content should not be construed as offering medical advice. For medical issues, please contact your doctor.