A Surefire Way to Protect Family Bonds in the Face of an Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Was someone you love recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's? Make this your new mantra: Get mad at the disease, not at each other.

Alzheimer's caregiver champion Lisa Gwyther of Duke University Medical Center has dispensed that maxim to decades of family caregivers. Though you're probably still wrapping your head around what dementia will mean for you and your family, one thing is certain: It can draw you together or tear you apart.

One of the most protective things you can do for your family? Talk -- even if you've never been a chatty clan before. Some tips:

  • Start talking early. Avoiding the subject of Alzheimer's only makes it an ever-bigger elephant in the room.

  • Keep talking. This is part of your everyday life. Alzheimer's talk needn't take over your life -- but neither should it be relegated to the shadows.

  • Avoid secrets or partial disclosures. Families who fail to keep everyone on the same page often wind up with more alienation and disagreements later.

  • Share information, including problems with new symptoms, concerns about money or health, medical updates. This makes it easier to collaborate together to solve problems as they crop up.

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