Harvard Health Letter

The emotional side of Alzheimer's disease

Instead of trying to bring people back to reality, caregivers are advised to empathize and establish an emotional connection.

Alzheimer's disease is usually depicted as mainly a disease that affects memory and thinking, partly because memory lapses are so noticeable during the beginning of the disease. People in the early stages of the disease start to lose things, forget once-familiar faces, and struggle to recall recent events. Other cognitive problems soon develop, including a shortened attention span, difficulties with language, and an inability to think logically. In the later stages, people may completely lose the ability to speak. Eventually, much of what we consider conscious thought disappears.

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