NIA’s Alzheimer’s Caring Guide in Spanish

Looking for Alzheimer’s caregiving information in Spanish?

Check out Cómo cuidar a una persona con la enfermedad de Alzheimer: Una guía fácil de usar del Instituto Nacional Sobre el Envejecimiento.

This new book from the National Institute on Aging (part of the National Institutes on Health) has helpful tips on topics including: changes in behavior; wandering; healthy eating and exercise; and caregiver health.

Copies are available to order for free on our website, or read the new Alzheimer’s caregiving information in Spanish online.

How Alzheimer’s affects the brain

In Alzheimer’s disease, changes to the brain likely start a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. This new video developed by the National Institute on Aging shows what we’ve learned about the brain in Alzheimer’s, and where research on treating or curing the disease is headed.

Learn more about what happens to the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.

How do doctors diagnose dementia?

To diagnose dementia, doctors do a medical assessment to determine whether changes are because of an underlying treatable condition like depression or vitamin B12 deficiency. Then, they will assess whether there are signs of dementia.

A medical assessment for dementia generally includes:

  • Patient history. Typical questions about a person’s medical and family history might include asking about whether dementia runs in the family, how and when symptoms began, changes in behavior and personality, and if the person is taking certain medications that might cause or worsen symptoms.
  • Physical exam. Measuring blood pressure and other vital signs may help physicians detect conditions that might cause or occur with dementia. Such conditions may be treatable.
  • Neurological tests. Assessing balance, sensory function, reflexes, vision, eye movements, and other functions helps identify conditions that may affect the diagnosis or may be treatable with drugs.

Learn more about diagnosing dementia.

Home safety checklist for a person with Alzheimer’s

Help make home safer for a person with Alzheimer’s disease with a room-by-room checklist to alert you to potential hazards and help you record any changes you need to make.

Keep in mind that it may not be necessary to make all the suggested changes and that you will need to re-evaluate home safety periodically as behavior and abilities change.

Use this checklist to look for hazards in the following locations:

  • Entryway
  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Living room
  • Laundry room
  • Garage/shed/basement

Find the checklist on the ADEAR website and share this information with others

Tips for dealing with forgetfulness

People experiencing forgetfulness can use a variety of techniques that may help them stay healthy and deal with changes in their memory and mental skills.

Here are some things to try:

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Stay involved in activities that can help both the mind and body.
  • Volunteer in your community, at a school, or at your place of worship.
  • Spend time with friends and family.
  • Use memory tools such as big calendars, to-do lists, and notes to yourself.
  • Put your wallet or purse, keys, and glasses in the same place each day.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Get help if you feel depressed for weeks at a time.

Visit the ADEAR website to get more tips and learn about what to do if you start noticing memory problems.

What to do when a person living with Alzheimer’s disease hides things

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may start rummaging or searching through cabinets, drawers, closets, the refrigerator, and other places where things are stored.

He or she also may hide items around the house. This behavior can be annoying or even dangerous for the person, caregiver, or family members.

Here are some tips to help cope with this behavior:

  • Keep the person with Alzheimer’s from going into unused rooms. This limits his or her rummaging through and hiding things.
  • Search the house to learn where the person often hides things. Once you find these places, check them often, out of sight of the person.
  • Keep all trash cans covered or out of sight. People with Alzheimer’s may not remember the purpose of the container and may rummage through it.
  • Check trash containers before you empty them, in case something has been hidden there or thrown away by accident.

Learn more about rummaging and hiding in Alzheimer’s disease.

Managing sleep problems in people with Alzheimer’s — Tips

Alzheimer’s disease often affects a person’s sleeping habits. It may be hard to get the person to go to bed and stay there. Someone with Alzheimer’s may sleep a lot or not enough, and may wake up many times during the night.

Here are some tips that may help caregivers manage sleep problems in people with Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Help the person get exercise each day, limit naps, and make sure the person gets enough rest at night. Being overly tired can increase late-afternoon and nighttime restlessness.
  2. Plan activities that use more energy early in the day. For example, try bathing in the morning or having the largest family meal in the middle of the day.
  3. Set a quiet, peaceful mood in the evening to help the person relax. Keep the lights low, try to reduce the noise levels, and play soothing music if he or she enjoys it.
  4. Try to have the person go to bed at the same time each night. A bedtime routine, such as reading out loud, also may help.
  5. Limit caffeine.
  6. Use nightlights in the bedroom, hall, and bathroom.

Learn more about sleep and Alzheimer’s disease on the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral website.