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Alzheimer's Disease Support (cont.)

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease can involve a lot of work and worry. Following the tips below may help you spend more quality time with your loved one and cut down on worrying when you can't be with him or her.

Alzheimer's disease can cause a person to exhibit unpredictable and uncharacteristic behaviors, including mood swings, aggression, combativeness, delusions, wandering, and repetition of words. Both the person with Alzheimer's disease and his or her caregiver can become frustrated and tense. Realizing that the person is not acting this way on purpose and adjusting to the changes can help you not to become so frustrated.

Behavior changes can be caused by any of the following:

  • The inability to recognize familiar people, places, and things

  • Failure to effectively communicate

  • Difficulty doing common tasks or activities

  • Physical discomfort because of an illness or medications

  • Overstimulation from a loud or busy environment

When responding to behaviors, try the following:

  • Use a calm and relaxed tone of voice

  • Be patient, flexible, and understanding

  • Acknowledge and respond to requests

  • Don't argue or interrupt

  • Try not to take behaviors personally

  • Show interest in what the person is saying or doing

  • Point to things you are talking about

Staying involved in daily activities is important for a person with Alzheimer's disease. You can help your loved one remain involved for as long as he or she is able to.

  • Make the activities part of your daily routine so that they stay or become familiar.

  • Make the instructions simple. Put instructions into simple steps if necessary.

  • Focus on the enjoyment and involvement of the activity, not necessarily the achievement of it. If your loved one becomes frustrated, take a break.

  • Decide what time of day is best for each activity.

  • Be willing to transport your loved one to meetings, appointments, or engagements that are important to him or her.

  • Offer supervision if necessary.

  • Be patient and flexible.

  • Help the person remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.

When caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease at home, whether in your home or in his or hers, safety and accessibility are concerns.

  • Make potentially dangerous areas less accessible by using safety devices such as childproof locks and door knobs (for instance, to limit access to places where knives and cleaning fluids are stored).

  • Because changes in levels of light can be disorienting, adapt for visual changes.

    • Diffuse bright light by covering windows and removing or covering up mirrors and glass-top furniture.

    • Add extra lighting in entries, by landings, in hallways, and in bathrooms.


  • Prevent harm during daily activities.

    • Supervise the person in taking medications.

    • Monitor the temperature of water faucets and food.

    • Install walk-in showers, grab bars, and decals to slippery surfaces in the bathroom.


  • Beware of hazardous objects and substances.

    • Limit the use of potentially dangerous appliances and equipment such as mixers, grills, knives, and lawnmowers.

    • Remove furniture with sharp corners.

    • Regularly clean out the refrigerator.

    • Supervise smoking and alcohol consumption.


  • Prepare for emergencies.

    • Keep with you a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses including local police and fire departments, hospitals, and poison control help lines.

    • Check fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, fire alarms, and other security devices. Regularly conduct fire drills.
Medical Author:

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