Reviewed by Benedict Albensi, PhD, BCMAS, CRQM
Alzheimer's can be a scary diagnosis for the entire family, but families can adjust their daily lives with information & support. Feelings of sadness, anxiety and loss are normal. Whether you are a patient, caregiver, or family member, read below for clinical information, latest research, and support!
New Diagnosis of Alzheimer's
Caretalk is a resource to support you and connect you with the care you need. Once you are given a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, it is important for you and your family to learn about the stages of disease and what to expect. A dementia-trained social worker or counselor can assist in finding resources, encouraging caregiver self-care, and providing strategies for managing the patient's mood and behaviors, to help your family plan for the future.
While Alzheimer's is not fully understood, there is emerging research around prevention. Lifestyle changes such as physical exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and cognitive stimulation may decrease the risk of Alzheimer's. Read more below about changes you can make today to lower your and your family's risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
Alzheimer's Disease is a family experience, and it impacts each person differently. On this page, no matter who you are, what your background is, or what your relationship is to a person with Alzheimer's, you can join in to read and share the unique journeys of people with Alzheimer's, caregivers, and families.
This is the Caretalk Community.
We are an open, medically-reviewed community of doctors, researchers, clinicians, patients, advocates, caregivers, and family members who share knowledge to improve health and research in Alzheimer's Disease.
Caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer's experience increased rates of depression, anxiety, caregiver burnout, and adverse health outcomes. Experts argue that at a certain point, improved outcomes for the patient means partnering with and increasing support for caregivers. Caregiver burden is a term to describe the interplay between the emotional, physical, financial, and social stressors related to caring for someone. Alzheimer's Disease lasts for many years and is often referred to as a marathon rather than a sprint. Support from a professional as well as caregiver support groups can be a lifeline for caregivers.
Alternatives & Supplements
Research suggests that deficiencies in Vitamin D and B Complex can increase one's risk of developing dementia. An experienced memory specialist will run a blood test to determine whether you should take Vitamin D or B supplements. There is not much evidence that other supplements or alternatives can cause or prevent AD, though you may hear claims about coconut oil, tumeric or other alternative medications that people claim are effective. Consult with a memory specialist before taking supplements to prevent or treat dementia.Read More
Diet & Exercise
People in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer's Disease can benefit from physical exercise. In fact, for people in the early stages, physical exercise can yield even better results on slowing memory loss than medication. A heart-healthy diet is usually a brain-healthy diet. Increase the person's intake of protein (such as eating fish), decrease fatty foods (including sugars and red meats), and eat more vegetables. The more color on the plate, the better! The benefits of this Mediterranean diet are seen most in early to moderate stages. People in the moderate to late stages may experience changes in taste preferences and prefer to eat sweets. That's ok! In the later stages of disease, the person can eat whatever they desire.Read More
It's normal for both the person with Alzheimer's disease and their family caregivers to experience feelings of loss, depression and anxiety. Spending time doing things you enjoy and socializing with people you love can help improve mood. Seeking therapeutic support from a counselor (licensed clinical social worker or psychologist) with expertise in aging, memory disorders or caregiving issues can help you process your emotions and reduce some of the stress or negative feelings you may experience.
Life Changes & Sleep
People with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders may experience changes in sleep patterns. In the early stages, sleep is typically not affected. As the disease progresses, some people sleep more than usual, and some people experience a change in the sleep cycle, staying up at night and sleeping during the day. Keeping a person with Alzheimer's Disease engaged during the day may promote better sleep at night.
Short-term memory loss is the hallmark of the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease. In the early stages, people may forget people's names or they may find that they need to write things down more as a way of supporting memory. Keeping a calendar and/or a white board can be helpful to support the person with Alzheimer's Disease. Eventually these tools will not be effective, but it's important to help the person with Alzheimer's Disease identify strategies that can help support his or her memory and keep them organized and oriented to their day.Read More
Stats & Facts
Learn the latest facts about Alzheimer's Disease, from how the population with Alzheimer's Disease is changing, to the rate of people who are undiagnosed in the early stages, to how costs breakdown, to how many trials are currently happening. Together, we can work towards changing these statistics of Alzheimer's Disease.