Health professionals—get tools and training for your practice

Health professionals—physicians, nurses, social workers, and others—play an important role in identifying and caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Check out Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resources for Professionals to access FREE resources on topics like:

  • Tools for assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management
  • Disease-specific information
  • Professional training and curricula
  • Clinical trials and studies
  • Patient care
  • Patient and caregiver education

Minimize danger around the house—tips for caregivers

People with Alzheimer’s disease may not see, smell, touch, hear and/or taste things as they used to. Make life safer around the house by:

  • Checking foods in the refrigerator often. Throw out anything that has gone bad.
  • Put away or lock up things like toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, rubbing alcohol, soap, or perfume. They may look and smell like food to a person with Alzheimer’s.
  • If the person wears a hearing aid, check the batteries and settings often.

Remember to re-evaluate the safety of the person’s home as behavior and abilities change.

Learn more about home safety for people with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s research—what you can do to help

“When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I wanted to do everything possible to fight the disease, not give in to it. I talked with my doctor about possible treatments. He helped me find a clinical trial that was right for me. Now I get to talk with Alzheimer’s experts. Plus, I know I’m doing something that might help my children and grandchildren avoid the disease.”

This is an exciting time for Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Advances are being made because thousands of people have participated in clinical trials and studies to learn more about the disease and test treatments.

You can help. Check out Participating in Alzheimer’s Research: For Yourself and Future Generations to learn about:

  • Types of clinical research
  • Common questions about participating in research
  • Why placebos are important

Why studies need all kinds of people

Make communication easier for a person with Alzheimer’s disease

Check out these 5 tips to make communication easier between you and a person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Make eye contact and call the person by name
  • Be aware of your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at the person, and your body language
  • Encourage two-way conversation for as long as possible
  • Use other methods besides speaking, such as gentle touching
  • Try distracting the person if communication creates problems

Visit the ADEAR website to learn more about the changes in communication that may accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Care Professionals: Online course for Practical Discussions about Cognitive Impairment with Patients

Discussing memory concerns with your patients can be difficult. Alzheimer’s and other dementias are complex, and patients often have a lot of questions and concerns.

To help you prepare for these visits, the Alzheimer’s Association® presents Challenging Conversations About Dementia.

The five-module online course covers:

  1. Counseling the Worried Well Patient: Review of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Risk Factors
  2. Diagnosing the Cause of Dementia: Why Is This Important?
  3. The Road Ahead to a Differential Diagnosis: What Can the Patient Expect?
  4. Caring for a Patient Newly Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease: What Needs to be Addressed?
  5. Driving Retirement: Challenging Conversations in Community Mobility

In this free course, you’ll receive information to confidently approach the detection, diagnostic and care-planning process for your patients with cognitive impairment and dementia.

Complete this course at alz.org/FreeCME.

Libraries: A valuable component of the Dementia Friendly Illinois initiative

As Illinois embarks on its journey to make the State dementia friendly, an important resource to include in the planning process is its public libraries.  Public libraries are respected institutions that can be found in nearly every town, village and city in the state.  No longer content to be mere warehouses for books, libraries are increasingly taking on inclusive projects as vital participants in their communities.

Libraries can make a valuable contribution to the Dementia Friendly Illinois initiative.  The Dementia Friendly America website includes a Library Sector Guide that outlines a wide variety of activities and resources available through libraries.  In addition to offering educational and informational programming about dementia to caregivers and the general public, libraries contain a wealth of materials that can be used to stimulate and engage people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

A growing number of Illinois libraries are already offering programs and services directly to this population.  Here are just a few of the things that libraries are doing:

  • Bringing programs to memory care facilities – for one example see Tales & Travel Memories at the Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin (check out the video of the program in action)
  • Hosting Memory Cafes – see Memory Lane Social at the Mokena Community Public Library District
  • Circulating memory kits – see the Forget Me Not Resource Center at the Effingham Public Library

Illinois libraries are banding together to share ideas and expertise in an effort to expand services to persons living with dementia.  Libraries belonging to the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) in northern Illinois have formed a Serving Patrons with Dementia Group that meets quarterly and has a discussion listserv.  This idea has recently been shared with the Illinois Heartland Library System in hopes of involving libraries in the southern part of the state in this discussion.

There is also a national group of librarians who are passionately interested in serving people living with dementia and their care partners.  The Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group (IGARD) is a part of the American Library Association.

As Illinois communities begin the process of becoming dementia friendly, an invitation to the local library to participate would be of benefit to all.  In addition to contacting the library director, ask to talk with the Outreach Librarian, who may already be involved in reaching out to this too often forgotten population.

Submitted by Mary Beth Riedner, Chair, Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group/American Library Association

Exercising with Alzheimer’s

Regular exercise can have many benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease, though some people may have trouble getting around during the later stages. If the person with Alzheimer’s has trouble with tasks like walking, choose gentle forms of exercise like:

  • Simple household chores like sweeping and dusting
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Using soft rubber exercise balls or balloons for stretching or throwing back and forth
  • Using stretching bands
  • Lifting weights or household items (such as water bottles)

Check out Go4Life, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging, for more ways to be active.