Breaking the News to Family About Alzheimer’s

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When you or a person you are caring for is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, your life is going to change drastically. But it doesn’t only affect you; it also affects the lives of your family members and friends. They have a right to know. It is not an easy conversation, but being prepared can help make delivering the news go more smoothly. While there is no single right way to tell others, here are some approaches to think about.

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Educate Yourself First

Before you can explain Alzheimer’s disease to others, you first must understand it yourself. Once you educate yourself about the behaviors, side effects, challenges and changes that will occur in you or your loved one, you will feel more prepared to tell family and friends, explain the condition and answer any questions they may have.

Honesty is Best

You can’t hide Alzheimer’s. Eventually, the symptoms will be apparent. To start the conversation, explain the behaviors and symptoms that you or your loved one had been exhibiting, and how the diagnosis was made by the doctor.

Knowledge Helps the Shock

Explain that Alzheimer’s is a brain disease, not a psychological or emotional disorder. Share any educational materials that you have compiled. The more that people learn about the disease, the more comfortable they may feel. Point them in the right direction by telling them how to get more information.

Tell Kids too

Alzheimer’s disease can also impact children and teens. Just as with any family member, be honest about the person’s diagnosis with the young people in your life. Encourage them to ask questions.

Everyone Reacts Differently

Some people feel stigmatized and ashamed by having a family member with Alzheimer’s disease. Others may feel overwhelmed and depressed. And others are afraid their own time will come. You cannot control how others with react to the news.

Some People Will Stay Away

After all is said and done, and the news is communicated, you must expect a harsh reality that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease. No matter how well you communicate the diagnosis, some people may drift out of your life. They may feel uncomfortable around you or your loved one, unable to cope with the implications of the diagnosis, or they may not want to help provide care.

Guide Your Family’s Actions

When your family and friends are confronted with the news, they may express concern regarding how they should act around the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Should they pretend it isn’t a big deal? Should they act differently? Should they try not to cry? Explain to family and friends that they can still have a normal relationship with the affected person. They should not condescend, act differently or avoid contact.

Break the Ice

A good way to encourage interaction is to plan fun activities with your family and friends, such as having a barbeque, going to church, or renting movies.

At the end of the day, you can only do your best, and you cannot control how others will react. The most important thing is to build a support network for you or your loved one, and prepare to face the disease head on. If someone you love needs specialized care for Alzheimer’s disease, contact your local Brookdale Senior Care residences today.