Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: What You Need to Know

Is there help for caregivers?

John’s story

two men walking by threshing machineMy neighbor’s mom has Alzheimer’s disease. I never thought it would happen to someone in my family. I was upset and worried when I found out my father had the disease. I had so many questions. What is Alzheimer’s disease? Can it be treated? How is the disease going to affect my father? Will I be able to care for him? Where can I go for help? In time, I found information on the Internet and by calling Alzheimer’s groups.

Yes, there is help for caregivers. You don’t have to do everything yourself. See the list below for ways to get help.

  • Find a support group.
  • Use adult day care services.
  • Get help from a local home health care agency.
  • Contact local and national groups for information about Alzheimer’s disease.

See Where can you get more information? for groups and services that can help you. You can also find caregiving information and advice on many topics by reading the tip sheets on this website's Caregiving page.

Coping as a caregiver

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may have many different feelings. Sometimes, taking care of the person with Alzheimer’s makes you feel good because you are providing love and comfort. At other times, it can be overwhelming. You may see changes in the person that are hard to understand and cope with.

Each day brings new challenges. You may find yourself dealing with problem behaviors or just trying to get through the day. You may not even realize how much you have taken on, because the changes can happen slowly over time.

Take care of yourself

Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. You could:

  • ask friend and family to help you out
  • do things you enjoy and spend time with friends
  • take short breaks
  • eat healthy foods and get exercise

Taking these actions can bring you some relief. It also may help keep you from getting ill or depressed.

Publication Date: June 2011
Page Last Updated: January 22, 2015