Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are becoming increasingly common diagnoses. Worldwide, more than 55 million people are affected by dementia, with a new case emerging every three seconds. Given these staggering numbers, it’s highly likely that each of us knows someone impacted by Alzheimer’s or dementia, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a neighbour. The ripple effects extend beyond the individuals diagnosed to include the caregivers who devote their lives to supporting them, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive support systems for all those affected.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is a demanding and emotionally taxing journey. Caregivers often find themselves navigating a labyrinth of challenges, from the emotional and psychological toll to the physical demands of the role. Alzheimer’s caregivers commonly experience a range of intense emotions, including sadness, frustration, and anxiety. One of the most pervasive feelings is guilt. Caregivers may feel guilty for wishing they had more time for themselves, for feeling resentment towards their responsibilities, or for considering the use of professional care services. Understanding these emotions is the first step in providing effective support.

Strategies for maintaining mental health

It’s important to consider seeking professional therapy. Speaking with a mental health professional can help caregivers process their emotions and develop coping strategies. At Livewell, we also encourage joining a support group. These groups provide a safe space to share experiences and receive empathy and advice from others in similar situations.

Adopting mindfulness practices can be quite beneficial too. Regular meditation can help caregivers manage stress and maintain emotional balance and simple breathing exercises can be practised anywhere and anytime to reduce immediate stress and anxiety. Stress management techniques that we encourage include exercise, time management and respite care. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be extremely demanding. The aim of respite care is to provide some relief for carers and support them in having a break from their caring responsibilities, to look after their own health and wellbeing.

Addressing guilt

Guilt is a common and difficult emotion for caregivers. It’s crucial to acknowledge that feeling guilty is normal and doesn’t imply they are failing in their role. Firstly begin by acknowledging feelings. Accepting and expressing feelings of guilt can be the first step in overcoming them. Secondly, set realistic expectations. Caregivers need to understand that perfection is unattainable and that doing one’s best is enough. Finally, forgive yourself. Recognise that it’s okay to feel frustrated or overwhelmed and that these feelings don’t diminish the love and care provided.

How family, friends, and colleagues can provide support

Support from others can significantly impact a caregiver’s well-being. Here’s how to offer meaningful support:

  1. Be understanding:
    • Language to use: “I can’t imagine how tough this must be for you. If you need to talk, I’m here to listen.”
    • Avoid judgment: Refrain from offering unsolicited advice or criticism about their caregiving methods.
  2. Offer practical help:
    • Specific offers: “Can I bring over dinner this week?” or “Would you like me to run some errands for you?”
    • Regular check-ins: Consistent offers of assistance can be more helpful than one-time gestures.
  3. Provide emotional support:
    • Listen actively: Sometimes, simply being a compassionate listener can be incredibly comforting.
    • Encouraging words: “You’re doing an amazing job. It’s okay to feel tired and need a break.”
  4. Encourage self-care:
    • Support respite care: Encourage the use of professional respite care services to give caregivers time off.
    • Promote healthy habits: Encourage activities like walking, yoga, or hobbies that bring joy and relaxation.


Supporting a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s involves understanding their emotional and psychological challenges and offering practical and emotional support. By providing a compassionate ear, helping with day-to-day tasks, and encouraging self-care, family members, friends, and colleagues can make a significant positive impact. Remember, caregivers deserve just as much care and support as the loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or dementia that they are caring for.