10 Things to Never Say to an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

5. “You look so tired.”

Thanks? How is the caretaker supposed to respond to that statement? Besides, they already know they look tired. They are tired. Telling them this just makes them feel like they’ve failed to appear “normal” despite their difficult situation, and it doesn’t solve the problem at all (unless, perhaps, you follow the statement with an offer for them to take a nap while you keep an eye on their loved one).

4. “Your mother/father was such a wonderful person.”

The key word here is “was.” Don’t go using that past tense yet. Mom or Dad is still alive, even if they’re not in their right mind. A disease is no reason to discount a person’s existence or to talk about them in the past tense. Using “was” implies that the Alzheimer’s patient is no longer a wonderful person, which will undoubtedly hurt the feelings of the person caring for them. Alzheimer’s patients may not be the people they once were, but they are still people and worthy of respect.

3. “Why don’t you just put him/her in a nursing home?”

There are various reasons why a family member might decide to care for this person, and none of them are probably your business. Whether it’s the inability to pay for a nursing home or just a desire to personally ensure Mom or Dad is getting the best care, it is the family’s right to make these decisions. Besides, asking a question like this may make the caregiver feel like you don’t think they’re doing a good job.

Senior woman with her elder care nurse

2. “He/she doesn’t even know who you are. Why do you spend so much time with them?”

Because it matters. Even an Alzheimer’s patient who doesn’t recognize any of his or her loved ones anymore needs to be loved all the same. They still need companionship and care. There’s a reason so many Alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes end up falling in love (although whether it’s real love or not is debatable) with someone new. They’re still human beings. They still seek joy and comfort and all the other things the companionship of other people can bring them. Spending time with a loved one who doesn’t remember you is a difficult task, but it is a brave way to improve the quality of the last few years of that beloved person’s life.

1. “You should be relieved that it’s over and they’re in a better place.”

Stop. Please stop. Whether or not the person with Alzheimer’s is in a better place is irrelevant. Don’t make their loved one and caretaker feel guilty for mourning their loss. Losing a loved one is hard regardless of the circumstances, and no one should ever have to feel like they’re not allowed to be sad about that, even if the situation preceding the death was becoming very difficult and painful for all involved.

Now that you know what not to do, get out there and give some support to that person you know who’s caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s. You never know when something small will change their entire outlook on life!

Want to learn more about potential treatments for a loved one? Click “next” to read about a study that decreased the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in all 10 of their patients!

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