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.

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.

Kitchen safety for persons with Alzheimer’s disease

The kitchen is often called the heart of the home. Make it safe for a person with Alzheimer’s with these tips:

• Install childproof door latches on storage cabinets and drawers designated for breakable or dangerous items. Lock away all household cleaning products, matches, knives, scissors, blades, small appliances, and anything valuable.
• Install safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove.
• Remove artificial fruits and vegetables or food-shaped kitchen magnets, which might appear to be edible.
• Insert a drain trap in the kitchen sink to catch anything that may otherwise become lost or clog the plumbing.

Learn more about making a home safe for a person with Alzheimer’s.

Tips for healthy eating with Alzheimer’s disease

Help a person with Alzheimer’s disease eat well:

  • Buy healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products. Be sure to buy foods that the person likes and can eat.
  • Give the person choices about what to eat—for example, “Would you like green beans or salad?”
  • Buy food that is easy to prepare, such as pre-made salads and single food portions.
  • Give the person plenty of time to finish his or her meal.
  • Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and way whenever possible.

View these tips to get more information on encouraging healthy eating for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sign Up for NIA’s New Caregiving E-Mail List

Caregivers—get helpful resources delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up for the NIA for Caregivers list and receive biweekly e-mails with information and tips about:

• Alzheimer’s caregiving
• Long-distance caregiving
• Caregiver health, and more!

Exercise for Persons with Dementia

Exercise helps keep their muscles, joints, and heart in good shape, while also helping maintain a healthy weight and promote good sleep.

Being active and getting exercise helps people with Alzheimer’s disease feel better.

Here are some tips to get started:
• Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several 10-minute “mini-workouts” may be best.
• Make sure the person with Alzheimer’s disease has an ID bracelet with your phone number if he or she walks alone.
• Break exercises into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
• Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!

Read this tip sheet to learn more about exercise and physical activity for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Talking with Children about Alzheimer’s disease

When a family member has Alzheimer’s disease, it affects everyone in the family, including children and grandchildren.

Talking with children is important. How much and what kind of information you share depends on the child’s age and relationship to the person with Alzheimer’s.

Here are some tips to help kids understand what is happening:

• Answer their questions simply and honestly. For example, you might tell a young child, “Grandma has an illness that makes it hard for her to remember things.”
• Help them understand that their feelings of sadness and anger are normal.
• Comfort them. Tell them no one caused the disease.