Alzheimer's Disease

Caregiver Guide

A person who has Alzheimer's disease may not be able to take care of himself or herself. He or she may need help with simple tasks. The tips below can help you care for the person.

MEMORY LOSS AND CONFUSION

If the person is confused or cannot remember things:

  • Stay calm.

  • Respond with a short answer.

  • Avoid correcting him or her in a way that sounds like scolding.

  • Try not to take it personally, even if he or she forgets your name.

BEHAVIOR CHANGES

The person may go through behavior changes. This can include depression, anxiety, anger, or seeing things that are not there. When behavior changes:

  • Try not to take behavior changes personally.

  • Stay calm and patient.

  • Do not argue or try to convince the person about a specific point.

  • Know that these changes are part of the disease process. Try to work through it.

TIPS TO LESSEN FRUSTRATION

  • Make appointments and do daily tasks when the person is at his or her best.

  • Take your time. Simple tasks may take longer. Allow plenty of time to complete tasks.

  • Limit choices for the person.

  • Involve the person in what you are doing.

  • Stick to a routine.

  • Avoid new or crowded places, if possible.

  • Use simple words, short sentences, and a calm voice. Only give 1 direction at a time.

  • Buy clothes and shoes that are easy to put on and take off.

  • Let people help if they offer.

HOME SAFETY

  • Keep floors clear. Remove rugs, magazine racks, and floor lamps.

  • Keep hallways well lit.

  • Put a handrail and nonslip mat in the bathtub or shower.

  • Put childproof locks on cabinets that have dangerous items in them. These items include medicine, alcohol, guns, toxic cleaning items, sharp tools, matches, or lighters.

  • Place locks on doors where the person cannot see or reach them. This helps the person to not wander out of the house and get lost.

  • Be prepared for emergencies. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses in a handy area.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

  • Talk about finances.

  • Talk about money management. People with Alzheimer's disease have trouble managing their money as the disease gets worse.

  • Get help from professional advisors about financial and legal matters.

  • Talk about future care.

  • Choose a power of attorney. This is someone who can make decisions for the person with Alzheimer's disease when he or she can no longer do so.

  • Talk about driving and when it is the right time to stop. The person's doctor can help with this.

  • If the person lives alone, make sure he or she is safe. Some people need extra help at home. Other people need more care at a nursing home or care center.

SUPPORT GROUPS

Some benefits of joining a support group include:

  • Learning ways to manage stress.

  • Sharing experiences with others.

  • Getting emotional comfort and support.

  • Learning new caregiving skills as the disease progresses.

  • Knowing what community resources are available and taking advantage of them.

GET HELP IF:

  • The person has a fever.

  • The person has a sudden behavior change that does not get better with calming strategies.

  • The person is unable to manage his or her living situation.

  • The person threatens you or anyone else, including himself or herself.

  • You are no longer able to care for the person.