It can be difficult to know the right words to say when a friend or family member tells you that they have a lifelong illness, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Do you tell them that everything will be ok? Talk about something else?

Let's talk about how you can be there for them.

Photo of older man kissing older woman on side of her face.Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplash

Offer Help In Concrete Ways

You can...

  • Drive them to a doctor's appointment

  • Pick up groceries

  • Sit with them and listen when they need someone to talk to

Animation of 2 yellow birds exchanging a pink heart with the caption

Change How You Communicate

Older woman and older man sitting on a bench on a boardwalk overlooking the ocean.Photo by James Hose Jr on Unsplash

The way you talk to and with your loved one as the disease progresses will change. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Let them know it's ok to feel how they are feeling

  2. Listen with respect and compassion

  3. Share good memories to help relax them

  4. Use humor when appropriate

  5. Allow plenty of time for your loved one to respond during conversations

What Not To Do

Stevie from television show

  • Don't shout at or talk really loudly to the person as if they were a child.

  • Don't pull away or avoid them. They need your friendship and support.

  • Don't talk about them like they aren't in the room. Speak directly to them.

  • Don't minimize their feelings. This can do more harm than good.

  • Don't give unsolicited advice. Instead, ask "How are you doing this week?"

Quiz

What would be a good example of what you could say to a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's?

At least you don't have xyz...

How can I help you today?

Don't worry, it will be alright

I think that's what my grandma had

Take Action

If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, here are a couple of resources to get more information on the disease and how you can help.

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This Byte has been authored by

SE

Stephanie Euland

Instructional Designer/Educator