Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

People with Alzheimer's disease experience a mixture of emotions — confusion, frustration, anger, fear, uncertainty, grief and depression.

If you're caring for someone with Alzheimer's, you can help them cope with the disease by being there to listen, reassuring the person that life can still be enjoyed, providing support, and doing your best to help the person retain dignity and self-respect.

A calm and stable home environment can help reduce behavior problems. New situations, noise, large groups of people, being rushed or pressed to remember, or being asked to do complicated tasks can cause anxiety. As a person with Alzheimer's becomes upset, the ability to think clearly declines even more.

Caring for the caregiver

Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease is physically and emotionally demanding. Feelings of anger and guilt, stress and discouragement, worry and grief, and social isolation are common. Caregiving can even take a toll on the caregiver's physical health. But paying attention to your own needs and well-being is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for the person with Alzheimer's. If you're a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's, you can help yourself by:

  • Learning as much about the disease as you can
  • Asking questions of doctors, social workers and others involved in the care of your loved one
  • Calling on friends or other family members for help when you need it
  • Taking a break every day
  • Spending time with your friends
  • Taking care of your health by seeing your own doctors on schedule, eating healthy meals and getting exercise
  • Joining a support group
  • Making use of a local adult day center, if possible

Many people with Alzheimer's and their families benefit from counseling or local support services. Contact your local Alzheimer's Association affiliate to connect with support groups, doctors, resources and referrals, home care agencies, residential care facilities, a telephone help line, and educational seminars.

Jan. 19, 2013