In the United States alone, there are more than 16 million Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers. During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness & Family Caregivers Month, we honor the people who serve as care partners and caregivers by providing tips for those looking to support these families living with the disease.
Whether you are seeking to support a person with Alzheimer’s or the person that cares for him or her, you will find helpful ways to lend a hand – in ways both big and small.
10 Ways to Help a Family Living with Alzheimer’s
People living with early-stage Alzheimer’s would like you to know:
- Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease. Learn about its effects and how to respond.
- Stay in touch. A card, a call or a visit means a lot and shows you care.
- Be patient. Adjusting to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is an ongoing process and each person reacts differently.
- Offer a shoulder to lean on. The disease can create stress for the entire family. Simply offering your support and friendship is helpful.
- Engage the person with dementia in conversation. It’s important to involve the person in conversation even when his or her ability to participate becomes more limited.
- Offer to help the family with its to-do list. Prepare a meal, run an errand or provide a ride.
- Engage family members in activities. Invite them to take a walk or participate in other activities.
- Offer family members a reprieve. Spend time with the person living with dementia so family members can go out alone or visit with friends.
- Be flexible. Don’t get frustrated if your offer for support is not accepted immediately. The family may need time to assess its needs.
- Support the Alzheimer’s cause.
“I’m still the same person I was before my diagnosis.”
“My independence is important to me; ask me what I’m still comfortable doing and what I may need help with.”
“It’s important that I stay engaged. Invite me to do activities we both enjoy.”
“Don’t make assumptions because of my diagnosis. Alzheimer’s affects each person differently.”
“Ask me how I’m doing. I’m living with a disease, just like cancer or heart disease.”
“I can still engage in meaningful conversation. Talk directly to me if you want to know how I am.”
“Don’t pull away. It’s OK if you don’t know what to do or say. Your friendship and support are important to me.”
Family members would like you to know:
“We need time to adjust to the diagnosis.”
“We want to remain connected with others.”
“We need time for ourselves.”
“We appreciate small gestures.”
How have you helped a family with Alzheimer's? Tell us in the comments.