Family and friends
You may feel socially isolated if your family and friends have pulled back from your relationship or you have little time to spend with them. They may hesitate to spend time with you and the person with Alzheimer’s disease because they worry about not knowing what to do or say. They may also not understand the behaviour changes caused by the disease or be unable to accept that the person has the disease.

Take the initiative to contact family and friends and explain that, while Alzheimer’s disease has changed your lives in some ways, you value their friendship and support. After inviting them for a visit, prepare them for the changes in the person with Alzheimer’s — physically, emotionally, mentally and intellectually. Provide suggestions as to how to communicate more easily with the person and about what activities they might be able to do together.

Resolving family conflict

Caregiving issues can often ignite or magnify family conflicts, especially when people cope differently when faced with caregiving responsibilities. Family members may deny what is happening or resent relatives who live far away or are not helping enough. There may also be disagreement about financial and care decisions.

To minimise conflicts, try to acknowledge these feelings and work through them.

  • Have a family meeting. Talking about caregiving roles and responsibilities, problems and feelings can help ease tensions. You may want help from a professional or religious counsellor.
  • Recognise differences. Some family members may be hands-on caregivers, responding immediately to issues and organising resources. Others may be more comfortable with being told to complete specific tasks.
  • Share caregiving responsibilities. Make a list of tasks and include how much time, money and effort may be involved to complete them. Divide tasks according to the family members’ preferences and abilities.
  • Continue to communicate. Periodic family meetings or conference calls keep the family up-to-date and involved. Discuss how things are working, reassess the needs of both the person with Alzheimer’s and the caregiver, and decide if any changes in responsibilities are needed.