When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is devastating news for the whole family. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that causes memory loss and drastic changes in behavior. Symptoms get progressively worse over time, which can take an emotional toll on those close to the individual.

If you’re the primary caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, how can you cope?

1. Continue to Act Normal

smiling woman with her father Whether your spouse, mother or father has been diagnosed with the disease, it is important to continue engaging him or her in favorite activities. As Alzheimer’s gets worse, you will be less likely to play games or go for walks together. Take advantage of the time you have in the early stages, while also trying to combat significant changes in personality and behavior.

2. Don’t Become Frustrated

Alzheimer’s disease causes your loved one to have trouble recalling memories, remembering certain words and carrying a conversation. The most important thing to remember is that you’re both frustrated at the disease, not each other. Keep your emotions in check and be attentive, helpful and display positive body language to reassure your loved one.

3. Know There Will Be Good and Bad Days

On any given day, Alzheimer’s patients can become upset and paranoid, experience hallucinations or wander off on their own. On other days, they can be quiet and reserved. When you establish a daily routine for your loved one, he or she is less likely to become agitated by the unplanned. If these negative emotions arise, take a step back and offer reassurance that the environment is safe.

4. Join a Support Group

Remember, your mental health is important too! There are many support groups available for family members of Alzheimer’s patients. You may be surprised at the number of people who experience the same troubles caring for a parent or significant other. It is extremely selfless to take on the responsibility of an ill loved one; give yourself the respite you deserve.

At West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center, we offer skilled Alzheimer’s care in a specialized, state-of-the-art unit that promotes safety and comfort. Learn more about admission to our facility today.