The Emotional Journey of the Alzheimer's Family

Robert B. Santulli, MD, Kesstan Blandin, PhD

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing public health crisis. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 5.4 million victims of this disease; by 2050, there will be close to 15 million people who suffer from this debilitating disorder of memory, thinking, personality, and functioning. The disease profoundly affects immediate family members, close friends, and neighbors. These people—the Alzheimer’s family—undergo tremendous psychological and emotional change as they witness the cruel and relentless progression of the disease in their loved one.

Incorporating over thirty years of experience with Alzheimer’s patients and their families with current medical knowledge, the authors chart the complex emotional journey of the Alzheimer’s family from the onset of the disease through the death of the loved one. They discuss the anger that rises in the face of discordant views of the disease, the defenses that emerge when family members are unwilling to accept a dementia diagnosis, and the common emotions of anxiety, guilt, anger, and shame. They focus especially on grief as the core response to losing a loved one to dementia, and describe the difficult processes of adaptation and acceptance, which lead to personal growth. Final chapters emphasize the importance of establishing a care community and how to understand and cope with personal stress.

This volume will be useful to medical professionals and ordinary people close to or caring for a person with dementia.

Paper: $19.95 | E-book: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9781611687446
Pages: 232 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: March 22, 2015


  • Timely and excellent in reaching the core of Alzheimer’s disease and all of its ramifications.

    Library Journal
  • The book looks at the myriad ways in which families react to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Each case is as individual as the patient and the family itself; and when Santulli speaks of a case, he means both patient and family.

    Valley News
  • [This] is an important contribution to the literature on Alzheimer’s that should prove helpful both to psychotherapists and also to psychologically sophisticated readers who are seeking an understanding of the emotional dynamics in families that come with the disease.

    Metapsychology Online Reviews
  • Much has been written about Alzheimer’s disease and the family, but surprisingly little has been said about the emotional journey along which people travel from the early symptoms of the disease to its ultimate ending in death. In The Emotional Journey of the Alzheimer’s Family, Santulli and Blandin address these struggles and triumphs in a straightforward and accessible way. People with early dementia, family care providers, and health-care professionals will all gain from the wisdom they provide.

    Peter Rabins, MD
    professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

About the Author

Robert B. Santulli

Robert B. Santulli, M.D. is an Honorary Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth, and Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He was formerly Director of the Memory Clinic at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and President of both the New Hampshire Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Dr. Santulli is the …

Kesstan Blandin

Kesstan Blandin, PhD is a psychologist and psychosocial researcher specializing in dementia for the Dartmouth Centers for Health & Aging, Dartmouth College, Lebanon NH. Dr. Blandin provides clinical lectures and training in dementia, consultations to families, and designs therapeutic research interventions. As a scholar and researcher, her interests are in structures of self and identity in consciousness as correlated with brain functions, body-mind relationships, humanistic-existential …

Other Recent Titles

Life Beyond Medicine

Sharon Romm, MD; Paul Wick, MD, fwd.

A Doctor's Dozen

Catherine Florio Pipas, MD, MPH

That’s Gotta Hurt

Dr. David Geier


Catherine Musemeche

Needless Suffering

David Nagel