Alzheimer's Caregiver Support

8 Maxims of Strength and Comfort for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Duke University social worker Lisa Gwyther is an Alzheimer's caregiving pioneer, having started working with families almost 40 years ago, back when Alzheimer's was, like cancer, a dirty word about which even less was known. She's also the coauthor, with psychiatrist P. Murali Doraiswamy, of The Alzheimer's Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems.

Here's some of her best advice:

  • Focus on what's left, not what's lost.

  • Good things and joy can happen to those who have Alzheimer's.

  • You, not your relative, will need to change.

  • Don't distress -- de-stress.

  • Your life is now about adapting to a chronic condition -- creating a "new normal."

  • This is the rainy day for which you have saved.

  • There are no perfect answers, no perfect families.

  • Memorize this: "I did what seemed best at the time."

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

almost 3 years, said...

I love your comforting and important message.

about 3 years, said...

All the statements touched home; my sister-in-law is in the mild stage and little things make her happy but more important than anything else she hopes her family does not tire out.

over 3 years, said...

Focus on what's left, not what's lost. However, me adapting is too much for me. I cannot as it changes everyday and I can't keep up. I do like "I did what seem best at the time". Beside, those who may ever be critical aren't here! Those who support the struggle are my loves and friends.

almost 4 years, said...

This is timely and helpful as i mentaly prepare to take my foks to the funeral of a lifelong friend this morning. It's an opportunity to reconnect to our happiest times past. Thank you!

almost 6 years, said...

It was a bad morning when he suddenly turned very anal retentive and selfish.

over 6 years, said...

Very helpful, and an excellent reminder to focus on the positives, whilst remembering that any diificulties encoutered are due the Alzheimer's, and not the person.

almost 7 years, said...

Yoy not your relative, will need to change and I did what seened best at the time

almost 7 years, said...

To make me mindful to refocus, de-stress. TY

almost 7 years, said...

Hello Anita, Thank you very much for your comment. One wonderful resource for support and tips about Alzheimer's disease is our Steps & Stages program: ( ). With Steps & Stages you will receive a Custom Care Guide with tips on your loved one's condition, a weekly newsletter, and access to our online support, Stage Groups. I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager

almost 7 years, said...

I have been caring for my husband who has dementia for several years now. I realize that I cannot change him and that I have to be the one to change. I have changed--quite a bit. But do you have any idea how HARD all of this is? A year ago I had a stroke as a result of caregiver burnout. I need some real help, not short catch phrases that sound good but solve nothing.