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My Parent Has Alzheimer's, Now What?

Written by Jennifer Wegerer
 about the author
3 minute readLast updated April 20, 2023

Anger, denial, depression, fear. These feelings may just be the start of your reaction to a parent’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. There is no “right approach” in dealing with your loved one’s diagnosis. However, identifying and understanding your parent’s and your own emotional needs can help you come to terms with it. Educating yourself on the disease and learning ways to reduce your family’s stress are also recommended means for managing life with this disease.

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Finding support after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, your parent may experience an overwhelming sense of loss. Staying engaged with others and building a support network can help them feel connected and give them a sense of purpose. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that your support network include:
  • A counselor or clergy member who can help them work through their feelings
  • Family and friends with whom they feel comfortable speaking honestly and openly about their feelings
  • Others living in the early stages of Alzheimer’s who can listen to and share similar experiences
  • Their doctor, who can offer a treatment plan that addresses your overall concerns and well-being
Another way to support your parent’s emotional health is to encourage them to keep a journal. Writing about the emotional ups and downs and give themselves time to feel sad about the changes the disease will bring can help.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Learning about Alzheimer’s disease

Educating yourself and your parent on the disease can make you feel empowered and better informed when it comes to helping your parent make decisions about treatments, long-term care options and plans for their future. Other benefits of learning as much as you can about Alzheimer’s include knowing:
  1. How to make your parent’s wishes known regarding finances, power of attorney, care decisions and other issues important to them.
  2. How to participate in clinical trials, if they’re interested.
  3. How to recognize symptoms and develop their own coping strategies.
  4. How to set goals for what they want to accomplish while they still can, if that’s what they decide.
  5. How to share their knowledge of Alzheimer’s with others and help reduce the stigma of the disease.
  6. How to understand drug treatments as well as alternative approaches, such as music and art therapy.

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Reducing stress that accompanies Alzheimer’s

As much as knowledge and a support network can help your parent cope with Alzheimer’s, they’ll inevitably endure stress with each stage. Encourage them to find ways to relax and take care of themselves so they can maintain a positive state of mind and stay healthy physically. Suggestions for reducing stress linked to Alzheimer’s:
  • Doing something they enjoy, from a favorite hobby to caring for pets
  • Exercising to lower stress and relax their mind
  • Meditating to help them focus on the present without judgment or dwelling on the past
  • Playing music that lowers anxiety
  • Staying social and planning visits with friends and loved ones
  • Talking about the past, emphasizing positive memories
Ultimately, how your parent approaches their Alzheimer’s diagnosis depends on what makes them most comfortable when it comes to their health and well-being.
Taking the above approaches to their Alzheimer’s diagnosis will not stop the disease’s progression. But, they can help them manage the disease and gain a better understanding of what the future holds.


Meet the Author
Jennifer Wegerer

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.