Alzheimer's: Dealing with family conflict

Alzheimer's disease creates major stress in families. Work through family conflicts together so that you can move on to more important things. By Mayo Clinic Staff

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the effects on the family can be overwhelming.

The reality that someone you love has such a devastating illness can trigger a range of emotions — including anger, fear, frustration and sadness. Conflicts are common as family members struggle to deal with the situation.

To minimize these conflicts, address the issues together.

Share responsibility

Consider each family member's preferences, resources and abilities.

Some loved ones might provide hands-on care, either in their own homes or in your loved one's home. Others might be more comfortable with respite care, household chores or errands. You and your family might also choose someone to handle financial or legal issues.

Meet regularly

Plan regular face-to-face family meetings. Include everyone who's part of the caregiving team, including family friends and other close contacts.

During family meetings, discuss each person's caregiving responsibilities and challenges — and make changes as needed. Be open to compromise and possibilities you hadn't considered on your own.

If time, distance or other logistical problems are issues for certain family members, consider conference calls or video conferencing. You might also share email updates with the entire family, send updates through Twitter or start a family blog.

If your family meetings tend to turn into arguments, consider asking a counselor, social worker, mediator or other professional to moderate.

Oct. 04, 2012 See more In-depth