The emotional journey of facing a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be overwhelming for both the patient and their families. Feelings of fear, stress, anxiety and loss can overpower all individuals involved and the ability to have questions answered is essential to easing these emotions.
Although there are a multitude of support groups available through local community organizations, access, availability, and comfort level of participating in a group setting can all be barriers to participation. A health coach can be a crucial lifeline to supporting the needs of both the family and the patient. Health coaching services can be made available either 1:1 with the patient, loved one or as a family in which everyone is able to process many common issues facing Alzheimer’s patients.
This can include but are not limited to:
- Understanding and adjusting to the diagnosis
- Future care plans/options
- Medical options and support resources
- Managing symptoms and keeping loved one’s safe
- Caregiver balance and managing one’s own health needs
- Financial planning for support and medical management
A health coach does not necessarily need to be an expert in Alzheimer’s disease per se, but rather, have the ability to connect their client to professional, expert resources in their area. Their common goal is to navigate the needs and connect families to trusted experts that can create a network of safety and security throughout the progression of the disease. The supportive ear of a trained health coach can be enough to provide assurance that help is available and neither the patient nor the caregiver(s) are alone in this journey. Often the health coach is available to meet in convenient settings (including in-home or telephonically) as they realize that transportation can be a barrier to accessing resources.
In addition to care navigation, the health coach can connect the family to therapeutic resources such as exercise facilities, memory classes, and social support systems that can contribute to overall quality of life and management of symptoms. Their expert advice can help to remove burdensome details and guide the process in a meaningful, manageable way whereby the caregiver and patient are able to focus on enjoying their time together.
Jaclyn Chadbourne, MA is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Principal, Director of Research and Development – Universal Medical Technology, LLC and United Medical Gym, Inc in South Portland, ME. With a passion for sustainable healthy living and desire to advocate for patient-centered care, Jaclyn works to help support community resources for all special populations and to implement and oversee clinical protocols.