Living with dementia

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Impact of the disease

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have a deep impact not only those who are diagnosed, but also on the people who are closest to them. Family members have to take on different responsibilities when a relative is diagnosed with dementia. Sons and daughters of a parent with dementia may become caregivers and husbands and wives of the person with dementia see their roles change. They often find themselves in the role of primary caregiver.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, you or others in your family may find the changing roles tough to accept. It may become harder when roles change in some ways, but not in others. When this happens, it can lead to some confusion about how to act. It sometimes takes a while to figure out just who will do what.

The family member with dementia usually becomes the family’s centre of attention. A Energy is focused on this person. This can lead to other family members, including spouses or other children, feeling neglected. They may become resentful because they feel they are not getting the attention they need.

Some people have to take over everyday things, like chores, and they may feel burdened. The result can be that they may withdraw, avoiding family activities, or in the case of married people, they may end up getting divorced.

It is important to remember that different people react to the same situation in different ways. Some people will not be helpful at all and will put distance between them and the family. This is often because they feel that cannot cope with the changes. However, some people who care for a family member with dementia find that their families experience a new kind of closeness, as they work together to deal with stressful situations. Some people even show strengths that they never knew they had.

Last Updated: 12/02/14
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