Steps to Living Well with Alzheimer’s

by Lesley Jenkins, Alzheimer’s Association Regional Executive for Northern Arizona

Part of living well with Alzheimer’s is adjusting to your “new normal” and helping family and friends do the same. Knowing what to expect and what resources are available can make the process easier for you and those close to you.

When the adjustment process gets stuck

There are times when it may feel like family members or friends are not connecting with you — when your relationship feels stuck. In these situations, it may be that the person or your connection with each other is confronting an emotional challenge that feels overwhelming.

If this happens, there are some ways to help move the adjustment process along:

  • Speak honestly and frankly about your feelings. Acknowledge the importance of the relationship to you and your desire to go through this difficult time together.
  • Try to listen to the other person’s feelings. Respond as much as you can, while saving your concerns for another time. Both of you need to feel heard by the other, and sometimes taking turns being the “listener” can help.
  • Focus on the positive changes you can make that might help you regain your sense of closeness.
  • Take action. Make plans to do something that you both enjoy together.
  • When friends and family get stuck in the adjustment process, help by directing them to our 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900) to get advice, message boards (www.alzconnected.org) to chat with others or in-person support groups (contact our helpline for a support group near you).
  • Consider bringing in a third party to help. Talking with a professional who has experience working with people facing chronic disease can help one or both of you deal with the impact of the disease. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter to help locate professionals with this type of expertise.
  • If you or a family member is experiencing depression or anxiety that seems to go beyond what feels normal, know that these are treatable conditions. There are professionals who can help.