Living with a Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

05/16/24  9:30 AM PST
Communicating with Individuals with Alzheimer's/Dementia (Webinar)

An estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. As the size of the 65 and older population continues to grow, so too will the number with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and symptoms gradually worsen over several years. It can start with mild memory loss in early diagnosis, and lead to potentially losing the ability to carry on a conversation in later stages.

A person with Alzheimer’s can live as long as 20 years after diagnosis. On average, most people live 4 to 8 years after diagnosis. Alzheimer’s currently has no cure.


Diagnosing Alzheimer’s

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other dementias cause memory and behavior changes that interfere with daily living. It is important to know the early signs of this disease. The earlier it is caught, the quicker treatment can be received. Treatments such as Lecanemab (Leqembi), can slow the progression, giving you more time with your loved one.

10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory loss of newly-learned information
  2. Difficulty planning or solving problems
  3. Challenges completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with times and places
  5. Trouble handling money or paying bills
  6. Problems with previously known words (speaking and writing)
  7. Misplacing items (and being unable to retrace steps to find them)
  8. Poor judgment
  9. Withdrawing from social activities
  10. Change in moods and personality

Avoid self-diagnosing Alzheimer’s at home without speaking to a physician. Many conditions share the same symptoms as dementia, such as depression, stress, hormone disorders, addiction disorders, and brain tumors.

If you notice any of the above changes in a loved one, it is worth discussing this with other family members to share
observations. Keep a record of every time you notice dementia-like symptoms, and write your observations down
with the date and time they occurred. This can help their physician when diagnosing the condition.

Encourage your loved one to visit their physician, and offer to attend this appointment with them. It may be worth
contacting their physician beforehand with your concerns, so the physician is aware to ask the right questions.


Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s

It is estimated that more than 11 million Americans provide free care for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This selfless caregiving is valued at nearly $340 billion in the United States.

When supporting a person with Alzheimer’s, you can find helpful ways to make a difference – both big and small.

  1. Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease
    Understanding Alzheimer’s will help you deal with their actions and reactions. It can be easy to take something said
    personally, especially when it comes from a loved one. By understanding their frustrations and confusion, you can
    help overcome any hurdles along the way.
  2. Be patient and understanding
    People with Alzheimer’s will eventually need more help with everyday tasks. This may include bathing and
    dressing. This can be a particularly upsetting time for your loved one, and they may react poorly out of
    embarrassment or pride. Ensure you are clear and supportive – Tell the person what you are going to do, step by
    step, while you help them.
  3. Ask for help when you need it
    It can be easy to feel responsible for a loved one in their time of need. Supporting them while they are vulnerable can give you peace of mind. However, caregiver burnout can hinder their care, and cause you resentment. If possible, share the caregiving duties.
  4. Timing and routines
    Try and stay consistent with routines and times, especially around meals. This will allow them to keep as much
    control in their life as possible, easing daily frustrations.
  5. Consider safety
    Think of hazards around the home and in routines that could cause harm. Clear away unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other items. Hide or lock away chemicals and cleaning products. And make bathroom or dressing routines easier by doing things like buying loose-fitting, easy-to-use clothing.


Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with
Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. Be patient, seek support, and look after yourself.

Recent Caregivers

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