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Studies have shown that early intervention of a disease give better results. Alzheimer's disease is no exception. When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, my first reaction was to seek help. I sent a letter to the Alzheimer's Association of Puerto Rico and immediately received a phone call inviting me to participate in an early intervention project that the Association was planning to start. When they explained the details of the project to me, I accepted. The Association's president visited me at home, accompanied by a gerontology student. They evaluated and guided my husband and me and then we signed the participation documents. We then attended meetings for 8 consecutive Saturdays, in the conference room of the Veteran's Hospital.
It was a marvelous experience. We started out being 5 Alzheimer's patients accompanied by our families. It was a very interesting process. The dynamics differed between the group of patients and the group of family members, but both had the same objective: to know the disease so we could handle it.
Each Saturday we had different health professionals who would come to guide, motivate and make us feel like the more we knew about the disease, the easier it would be to accept it and fight against it. We received information on various subjects: physical care, therapies like aqua-aerobics, aromatherapy, music therapy, and others. These were all provided to us by professionals specializing in the different areas. We also received information from lawyers, doctors, nurses, and social workers.
After the 8 Saturdays had passed, we asked to continue with the group, and we did. In the end, we joined in with other support groups from our community. With my support group, I had very nice experiences. The one that caused the biggest impact, was when I had the opportunity to share my experiences with the disease, with the rest of the group. It was great. I still participate in walks and conferences that the Association sponsors throughout the island.
I can definitely say that after 10 years of being diagnosed with my condition, I have been able to remain stable. I visit my doctors regularly, take my medication, exercise, keep a balanced diet, and exercise my mind reading a lot and doing mental exercises. I learned to know the disease and with the help of my family, I've kept myself physically and mentally active. I'm convinced that early intervention helps. The most important thing is to make contact with those who can provide help. The Alzheimer's Association is key to start with early intervention.
The patient was a member of the First Group of Early Intervention of Alzheimer's Disease in Puerto Rico in the year 2000.
Asking for help was hard at first. I wanted my children to believe their father was fine!