Monday, January 25, 2010

Coping with Alzheimer's Disease: Overview

Alzheimer’s disease will bring significant changes in your day-to-day experiences. Things you once did easily will become increasingly difficult. The following suggestions may help you cope with changes in your daily life and plan for changes that will occur in the future.

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Doing difficult tasks
You may find familiar activities such as balancing your checkbook, preparing a meal or doing household chores more difficult. Try the following tips:
  • Do difficult tasks during the times of the day when you normally feel best.
  • Give yourself time to accomplish a task, and don’t let others rush you.
  • Take a break if something is too difficult.
  • Arrange for others to help you with tasks that are too difficult.
Communicating with others
You may begin to experience difficulty understanding what people are saying or finding the right words to express your thoughts. The following tips are important in communicating:
  • Take your time.
  • Ask the person to repeat a statement, speak slowly or write down words if you do not understand.
  • Find a quiet place if there is too much distracting noise.
  • Understand that at some point it may no longer be safe for you to drive. Discuss with your family and physician about how and when you will make decisions about driving.
  • Make plans for other transportation options, such as family members, friends or community services.
  • Contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to learn what local transportation services are available.
Dealing with memory changes
While you may clearly remember things that happened long ago, recent events can be quickly forgotten. You may have trouble keeping track of time, people and places. You may forget appointments or people’s names. It might be very frustrating trying to remember where you put things. Suggestions for coping with memory loss:

  • Post a schedule of the things you do every day, such as meal times, exercise, a medication schedule and bed time.
  • Have someone call to remind you of meal times, appointments or your medication schedule.
  • Keep a notebook handy containing important notes, such as phone numbers, people’s names, any thoughts or ideas you want to hold on to, appointments, your address and directions to your home.
  • Post important phone numbers in large print next to the phone.
  • Use an answering machine to keep track of telephone messages.
  • Have someone help you label and store medications in a pill organizer.
  • Mark off days on a calendar to keep track of time.
  • Label photos with the names of those you see most often.
  • Label cupboards and drawers with words or pictures that describe their contents.
  • Have someone help you organize closets and drawers to make it easier to find what you need.
  • Post reminders to turn off appliances and lock doors.
  • Get an easy-to-read, digital clock that displays the time and date, and keep it in a prominent place.
  • Keep a set of photos of people you see regularly; label the photos with names and what each does.
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Living alone
Many individuals manage on their own during the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, with support and assistance from others. The following suggestions may help if you live by yourself.
  • Arrange for someone to help you with housekeeping, meals, transportation and other daily chores. To get information about assistance available in your community, talk to your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Make arrangements for direct deposit of checks, such as your retirement pension or Social Security benefits.
  • Make arrangements for help in paying bills. You can give a trusted individual the legal authority to handle money matters.
  • Plan for home-delivered meals if they are available in your community.
  • Leave a set of house keys with a neighbor you trust.
  • Make arrangements for someone to regularly check your smoke alarm.
  • Have family, friends or a community service program call or visit daily.
    • Keep a list of questions and concerns to discuss with them during your time together.
    • Keep a list of things for them to check out around the house, such as electrical appliances, mail and food items.
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Sources and Additional Information:
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