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After a Diagnosis: Early-Stage Caregiving Tips

Written by Alissa Sauer
 about the author
2 minute readLast updated April 21, 2023

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease where symptoms worsen over time. However, in the early stages of the disease, most people are able to function independently and some are still able to volunteer and work. This can be a challenging time for caregivers who want to be available to help while encouraging independence and respecting the privacy of a parent or senior loved one. Read our early-stage caregiving tips and how to prepare for a loved one’s future with Alzheimer’s.

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Early-stage caregiving tips for Alzheimer’s

Theearly stage of Alzheimer’s can be a difficult time for the person with the disease, their caregivers and loved ones who may be anxious about the future and unsure how to proceed. These feelings are normal and being honest and open about them can spur helpful conversations about the future, which now seems uncertain.
One of the biggest challenges in early-stage caregiving for Alzheimer’s is finding a balance between assistance and independence. You want to be there for your loved one without being offensive or overbearing.
While every relationship has its own unique dynamics, these general rules can help you decide when to step in and when to give your loved one space:

1. Assume the best.

Unless there is an immediate safety concern, assume your loved one is capable of performing the task at hand.

2. Break up your task list and include your loved one as much as possible.

For example, if grocery shopping is too overwhelming right now, ask your loved one to help plan meals and prepare the grocery list. Focus on what your loved one can do and encourage them in those tasks.

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3. Establish open communication.

Create a help signal that is just for you and your loved one that will let you know when they would like your help. Let them know that you want what’s best for them and are here to help in whatever form that takes.

4. Is there a safety concern?

Could performing this task alone cause your loved one with Alzheimer’s injury or harm? If yes, step in. If no, stand by and offer your encouragement and support.

How to prepare for a future with Alzheimer’s

As the disease progresses differently for each person, it can be hard for caregivers to know when to take the lead.
To ensure proper care is being provided, ask your parent or senior loved one if they would like your assistance with the following tasks:

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  • Arranging transportation or driving
  • Finances
  • Making and tracking medical appointments
  • Medication management
  • Planning and organizing daily tasks
  • Remembering names and words, and as the disease progresses, people
While you help your senior loved one cope with this new diagnosis, do not overlook its impact on you as a caregiver.


Meet the Author
Alissa Sauer

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom (of which OurParents is a trademark) and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.