Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert! When Do I Tell People?

Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert! When Do I Tell People?

Ask the Expert Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert is brought to you each week by Elayne Forgie and the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center.

Question:  When do I tell people that my loved one has Alzheimer’s disease?

Answer:  You can begin to tell others that your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease after a probable diagnosis has been made by a qualified physician – and when you are comfortable doing so.

Unfortunately, in our society a stigma is attached to Alzheimer’s disease, just as it is with cancer, AIDS, and many other diseases.  Some people do not want to acknowledge they have they disease, and their families agree that no one will talk about it.

This can cause the person with Alzheimer’s and his family to feel ashamed. No one is at fault by getting Alzheimer’s disease, and no person with Alzheimer’s or his family should feel ashamed.  Medical science does not yet understand how or why people develop Alzheimer’s disease. Currently no cure exists and a definitive diagnosis is only possible after death.

Admitting to a probable Alzheimer’s diagnosis allows a person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family to participate in planning for the future.  Everyone wants to have as much control over their lives as possible.  By telling others about the disease, one can find help from local organizations, and many others who have experience with the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed at many ages. Early-onset Alzheimer’s affects persons between the ages of 30 and 60 years, while late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed in persons 60 years and older.

Acknowledging the disease and planning for the future gives comfort to everyone involved and assures the person with the disease that their desires for their life will be respected.