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Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Support Programs & Resources

Getting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming or intimidating, for both patients and caregivers. People may not know a lot about the disease, or have a lot of misinformation, or simply not know where to start to learn about the disease or what to expect. Support programs like support groups, informational groups, helplines, and other support resources are wonderful tools that patients, family members, and caregivers can use to help navigate living with Alzheimer’s disease while also providing a sense of community.

What is early-stage Alzheimer’s disease?

In early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, a person may still seem like nothing’s wrong but may have trouble with making sense of things, remembering basic things, or navigating their life. Other symptoms can include1:

Even in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, when symptoms may not be severe or that noticeable, support is important.

Support programs

Especially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, when cognitive functioning is minimally impacted, support is important. Learning about the disease and how it will impact one’s life can be empowering, as it provides information so that a person can plan for their needs and what they want in the future, restoring a sense of control over one’s life.2 Depression is common in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease for a variety of reasons, including feeling isolated from former friends or social groups and dealing with the initial diagnosis.3 Support programs provide both social engagement and tools to cope with the diagnosis, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and depression. Spending time with others who understand what a shared experience is like can provide comfort and guidance. Social support also has the added benefit of slowing the rate of cognitive decline.

There are various kinds of social engagement programs that can help those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease through organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association. They provide phone contacts with others who are living with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, run support groups, and also have social outings so people can stay active and connected while in a safe environment. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association at (800) 272-3900 to learn more.2

If you or your loved ones would rather seek support online, there are numerous tools for doing so. You can connect with others affected by Alzheimer’s here, and on our AlzheimersDisease.net Facebook page. ALZConnected is another helpful resource, which is an online community where those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease can connect with one another and find support. Additionally, Alzheimer’s Navigator is a useful tool for those affected by Alzheimer’s. Finally, check out the Community Resource Finder, where people living with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones can find local resources like programs and events, community services, care services, housing options, and more.

Support for caregivers

Caregiver support is important, no matter what stage Alzheimer’s a person has. Caregiver support programs can improve quality of life, reduce depression, and even possibly reduce institutionalization for care recipients.4 Even if the caregiver is taking care of a person with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, support is crucial and can help reduce caregiving stress. A support group can help provide information and tips and tricks for caregiving in the early stages, and as the disease progresses, provide more intensive emotional support and practical information. As the demands of caregiving increase as the disease progresses, that support will already be in place, leaving one less thing to do for the caregiver. Caregivers can find resources in the links mentioned above, or speak with the person’s doctor about any local resources or caregiver groups that might be available.

Written by: Jaime Rochelle Herndon | Last reviewed: June 2019
  1. National Institute on Aging. What Are the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease? 2017. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-are-signs-alzheimers-disease Accessed May 23, 2019.
  2. Alzheimer’s Association. Programs and Support. 2019. https://www.alz.org/help-support/i-have-alz/programs-support Accessed May 23, 2019.
  3. Alzheimer’s Association. Depression. 2019. https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/depression Accessed May 23, 2019.
  4. National Institutes of Health. Studies Show Benefits of Caregiver Support Programs. 2006. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/studies-show-benefits-caregiver-support-programs Accessed May 23, 2019.