Living with Alzheimer’s as a Caregiver
Alzheimer’s or any other kind of dementia is an awful disease. Finding out your loved one has Alzheimer’s is initially a shock and then fear and grief move in. Here is a brief message for newly diagnosed patients and their families:
What Do I Do Now??
What Do I Do Now??
- Take a slow, deep breath. If it will comfort you, say a prayer and have a good cry. Hug your loved one.
- Educate yourself. There are several resources available:
- Talk to your doctor. Does he/she have experience with Alzheimer’s/dementia patients? Should you see a specialist such as a gerontologist or neurologist? Ask about medications. Although there is nothing to cure Alzheimer’s, there are medications to slow the progress of the disease.
- Find a support group. (link to supportgroups.html) YOU ARE NOT ALONE! A support group provides a safe place to share, cry, laugh, and learn. Still not sure you need a support group, see more at “Why Are Support Groups Important?”
Consider your legal matters before it is too late. We offer free legal consultations to help you with your decisions. Call our office at (916) 483-2002 or
One of the most overlooked persons is the caregiver -- YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!! This is not an act of selfishness. It will give you the capability to take better care of your loved one.
- Take care of your physical health.
- Get lots of rest.
- Take time to review your daily goals. Are they realistic?
- Eat balanced meals and eat regularly.
- Don't give up your outside interests.
- Ask for help!
- Trying to communicate with a person who has Alzheimer's disease can be a challenge.
- First and foremost, do not argue with them. They are in their own world - their own reality. Go along with what they say (or say you'll check into "their concern"). That doesn't mean you have to "act" on it (because they'll soon forget). "Divert" them if they request something (or want to go somewhere) that would be inappropriate. Trying to reason is an exercise in futility.
- Learn the “therapeutic” lie. You are bending the truth to be kind. For example, my father wanted to get his driver’s license again although he was no longer capable of driving. I told him I would bring him a driver’s manual so he could study for the test. That was it – he was happy and didn’t ask again. It felt strange to lie to my father but it was necessary for his peace of mind.
- Choose simple words and short sentences and use a gentle, calm tone of voice. Give instructions one step at a time.
- Avoid talking to the person with Alzheimer’s like you would a child or someone without common sense. Their intelligence has not been diminished.
- Don't say, "You already asked that," or "You already told me that." They simply don't remember. Just continue to respond as if it is the first time.
- Minimize distractions and noise (TV or radio) to help the person focus on what you are saying. Call the person by name, making sure you have his or her attention before speaking.
- Allow enough time for a response. Try not to interrupt. Patience is key to caregiving.
- Don't talk in front of the person as if he or she weren't there. Although some of the things they do and say aren't normal, they still have "feelings" and may become agitated as a result..
- It is difficult for them to "choose" when asked for a decision. Their minds are scattered. Rather, ask, "Would you like this to eat? (or this to wear?), etc."
- If your loved one is struggling to find a word or communicate a thought, gently try to provide the word he or she is looking for.
- Important! -- Reverse roles. How would you like to be treated if you were in their shoes?