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.

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.

Health professionals—get tips on talking about cognitive problems

Healthcare providers, particularly primary care clinicians with long-standing relationships with a patient, are often in an ideal position to notice signs of cognitive decline in older adults. Visit Talking with Your Older Patient to learn about:

  • Screening for cognitive impairment and how to talk to the patient about screening
  • Communicating with a confused patient
  • Conveying findings
  • Working with family caregivers

Talking about your health care wishes

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it is important to start thinking about and documenting your health care wishes. It’s best to have these conversations between you, your family and caregivers, and your medical team early in the disease progression while you can still understand the issues and make your wishes known.

You may want to create documents like:

  • A living will, which records your wishes for medical treatment near the end of life.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care, which designates a person to make health care decisions when you are unable to.
  • A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order, which instructs health care professionals not to perform CPR if your heart stops. Make sure a copy is included in your medical chart.

Learn more about health care, legal, and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s disease on our website.