How Alzheimer’s affects families

Posted: 12/17/2020 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
More than 5 million families in the United States are currently affected by Alzheimer's disease. The news of any illness in a loved one is stressful for families, but an Alzheimer's diagnosis can be especially debilitating. And while your mind is absolutely on your loved one and his or her battle with the disease, it's also normal to wonder how Alzheimer's affects families as well. 

Your family is about to go through a challenging journey, alongside your loved one. You probably have many questions about Alzheimer's, and your mind may feel like it's spinning.

We know that this is an incredibly difficult time, and that there is a lot of unknown for your family. Although there's no way to prepare for anything and everything that can and will happen down the road, understanding some of the more common changes that are going to occur in your family can be helpful while you emotionally and physically prepare for what's next. 

Here are some of the ways Alzheimer's affects families

While you know that there are many changes coming for your loved one on his or her journey, here are some of the ways that Alzheimer's will affect you and your family specifically: 

Relationship changes

Whether you're a primary caregiver for your loved one, or whether you simply love and support your loved one, now as he or she begins a journey with Alzheimer's, it's important to know that as time goes on, your relationship with your loved one will change.

As the disease progresses and it becomes harder to recall memories, names and faces, your relationship will evolve to meet the moments where they land. As you may be called upon to serve as more of a caregiver, it may also feel like your relationship with your loved one has morphed away from "loved one" and more toward that caregiver-type role. 

Emotional overwhelm 

As you absorb and adjust to these relationship changes, support is essential.  Feeling completely overwhelmed emotionally is normal right now, and as time goes on. You're dealing with the news of a loved one's prognosis, the stress of determining care, providing care and your own emotions about everything.

It's an awful lot!

Talking to a therapist, doctor, loved one or friend, or clergy member can help you work through those changes and emotions.


Unfortunately, an Alzheimer's diagnosis can affect families by leading to conflict. With emotions and stress running high, and everyone dealing with the news and decisions in their own ways, disagreements may arise regarding care, treatment and other issues.

Family squabbles are often normal and harmless, but they can turn into real conflicts during stressful times. You may want to bring in a family friend or someone outside your immediate family to help make important decisions, ask questions and serve as an intermediary when necessary.  During an already-stressful time, families should hopefully come together, not fracture apart.

Strengthened bonds

Conversely, sometimes Alzheimer's can affect families by bringing them closer. When everyone has a common goal, small squabbles and past incidents can be forgotten, and everyone works together. While no family welcomes an Alzheimer's diagnosis, sometimes good can come out of challenge. 

Not only can the challenging times following an Alzheimer's diagnosis strenghten your bonds with family and friends as your support circle tightens and works together, you may also feel strengthened bonds with your loved one. The stress, pain and fear in your loved one is unfathomable, even as you deal with your own grief and stress. Coming together, spending quality time and making every moment count can help you nurture a stronger relationship with your loved one than ever before. 

We are here to support your family after an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

There are so many questions and decisions affecting your family after an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Having the right partner in your corner is essential. Here at Interim HealthCare, our team is comprised of experts in care for Alzheimer's and dementia. Our patient-centered approach to dementia care helps your loved one live comfortably and safely at home, with meaning and dignity, while providing your family with much-needed support and peace of mind. 

To learn more about our specialized care program for Alzheimer's, contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location.