Many people are afraid to talk about mental health. In many ways, it is one of the last great taboos in modern society. But talking is very important. When a loved one begins to lose their mental faculties, they may feel vulnerable and need reassurance and support from the people closest to them.

Talking is the best way to make everyone ready for the changes that are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Breaking the news can be a difficult and upsetting experience for everyone, but you should not pretend that everything will continue as before. Life in the family home will change, but you can prepare the way and make sure that everyone is ready.

You should explain to relatives and close family friends about:

  • The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and what changes may occur in the future
  • The medical treatments recommended by the doctor
  • Any upcoming hospital or health center appointments
  • If any care plans are needed

In particular, it is important to take the time to talk to children and teenagers who are close to a person who has been diagnosed with the condition. They may be feeling:

  • Sad about the changes to a loved one’s personality
  • Afraid of what the future holds for them and the family
  • Frustrated at the person’s loss of memory and the need to repeat themselves
  • Embarrassed to have friends over to the family home

Children and teenagers will sometimes show their emotions in less direct, non-verbal ways, and these may not be easy to recognize. For example, they may:

  • Talk about vague health complaints like a headache or stomach ache
  • Struggle with school work
  • Spend more time away from the home
  • Stop inviting friends to the house

When a family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you can help young people to understand and cope with the changes by:

  • Offering them comfort and support
  • Giving them the opportunity to express themselves
  • Talking to them about the disease and explain the symptoms
  • Answering their questions openly and honestly

Many people will be sad that the family will not be able to do the same things they used to, for example during Christmas, New Year and other public holidays. You can help to maintain the family bond by doing simple activities together, such as:

  • Going for a walk or a drive to a special place that the family enjoys together
  • Looking at old family photographs
  • Watching a favorite family movie
  • Engaging in a shared activity, like gardening or cooking

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Practical Alzheimer's

The Practical Alzheimer’s team ( brings together practical information on living with Alzheimer’s and the latest news and views on the disease, informed by medical opinion and patient experience. We regularly meet with specialists in Alzheimer’s and dementia to make sure the content we produce is credible, relevant and newsworthy. We also seek the views and feedback of those living with Alzheimer’s. Email the team at:

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