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Tips for Helping Alzheimer’s Patients Who Lack Proper Family Support

Home Instead Senior CAREGiver helps an elderly woman in her own home.
Recommending community resources such as adult day care or home care services can help your patient retain some independence while ensuring that your patient is safe and well cared for.

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For individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, having loving spouses, children or grandchildren devoted to caring for them can make all the difference in the world. To senior care professionals, it's usually quite obvious when such a strong support system is absent. Not only is it heartbreaking, it also makes it difficult to ensure those Alzheimer's patients receive the care they need.

The following suggestions can help you address family support-related matters that may interfere with individuals receiving the proper Alzheimer's care.

  • Learn about community resources.
    Connect with your local Area Agency on Aging to familiarize yourself with options available to dementia patients lacking family support. If a patient with dementia lives alone without any family members or friends close by who can help, safety is a huge concern. But depending on the case, moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home may not be necessary or financially practical for the individual. Recommending community resources such as adult day care or home care services can help your patient retain some independence while helping to ensure that your patient is safe and well-cared for.
  • Educate family members.
    In cases where an individual has received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's and family members are around but seem unwilling or unable to help, perhaps denial or a fear of the unknown keeps them from stepping up to the plate. If possible, involve both patient and available family members in discussions about the disease management plan, and make sure the family understands the characteristics, progression and care requirements of the disease. Refer them to Alzheimer's family caregiver resources for additional education and support.
  • Help bridge the communication gap.
    As you may well know, family members often disagree over important care decisions, which can delay or keep your Alzheimer's patient from receiving the right care. If you or your patient feel caught in the middle of a family disagreement, the 70-40 Rule® and 50-50 Rule® publications offer some helpful advice for open communication and resolving family conflicts surrounding an older adult's care.
  • Recognize and report signs of elder abuse.

    Neglect—a caregiver's failure or refusal to provide for a vulnerable elder's safety, physical, or emotional needs—is a form of elder abuse. Learn the warning signs and report any suspicion of elder abuse to the local adult protective services agency or law enforcement.

No one deserves to find themselves at the end of their life with a disease like Alzheimer's and no one to advocate for them. Armed with these tips and resources, you can help your patients live a higher-quality life with the support they need.

Last revised: March 12, 2012

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. March 21, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Posted by Sandra

    My mom is in late stage of Alzheimer's. My stepdad is having issues of his own and the doctors have told him he needs to place my mom in a facility but he refuses to do it. I have 3 sister 3 of us want her placed one is the hold out and sides with dad. My question? If he passes before mom who do we contact? He will not put us on any accounts so we don't have access to money. We did go to a care facility with him but he didn't want to continue with all of the paperwork. I'm beside myself, I am not able to care for her nor can my sister. Any suggestions of where to begin??


  2. March 25, 2012 at 9:59 am | Posted by Valeria

    I would rather be blunt and say that this is a major issue, and if your Grannie has dminetea or Alzheimers she will suffer a progressive decline and it will get worse. Firstly, I would recommend you take a current picture of her in case she does wander off. Next, I would meet with her family physician and see if you can have her referred to a psycho-geriatric resource person so they can assess her memory and mental functioning. It's always good to document the times when your Granny's behavior occurs and see if it happens at the same time of day because she could be suffering from a condition that is called sundowning . In the United States and Canada you can place a call to the Alzheimer's society and see if they can help you. They are probably your best resource. Hope this helps.


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