Alzheimer’s: How to Cope when a Family Member Suffers

Emotionally stressed woman not feeling well

Alzheimer’s disease, or another kind of dementia, affects one in three seniors fatally, which makes it a deadly and devastating diagnosis. Nearly two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women, and it can affect anybody. It can be very difficult to watch your loved one slip away in bits and pieces and forget things, maybe even your name. These are some tips to help to ease the process along.

  1. Accept it for what it is.

This diagnosis is a terrible blow, but it is what it is. The sooner you can accept the fact that Alzheimer’s is here and it’s going to stay, the sooner you’ll be on a better path to coping.

  1. Stop asking questions that begin with, “Do you remember…?”

The sad fact is that they don’t remember. If you correct them every time they are wrong about a person or a story or a place, they will only feel shame, which will make the situation even worse.

  1. Spend quality time together.

If your loved one with Alzheimer’s used to love to paint or travel or listen to Bach, chances are that these things will still make them happy. Have conversations with them, even if they only answer in one-word sentences. They still are a person, and they still are your loved one.

  1. Separate the disease from the person.

When your loved one wants to go somewhere and you ask if they have their wallet and phone on them, they may think that you don’t trust them anymore. Be sure to let them know that it’s not them you don’t trust, it’s the disease of Alzheimer’s that is robbing them of their memory.

  1. Treat your loved one with dignity and respect.

It might be difficult at times, but do your best to be the very best version of yourself while your loved one is going through this heartbreaking time. You’ll thank yourself later when you have good memories, instead of angry or resentful ones.

  1. Take good care of yourself.

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” This applies in full to caretakers of people with Alzheimer’s. Practice self-care on a daily basis, and be sure to speak positively with yourself inside your head. This is not the time to beat yourself up. You will need all of the strength and stamina that you can muster, so take care of yourself first.

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