Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
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,
Failure to effectively communicate
Difficulty doing common tasks or activities
Physical discomfort because of an illness or
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
Make the instructions simple. Put instructions into simple steps if
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
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
control help lines.
Check fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, fire alarms,
and other security devices. Regularly conduct fire drills.
Alzheimer disease (Alzheimer’s disease, AD), the most common cause of dementia1, isan acquired cognitive and behavioral impairment of sufficient severity that markedly interferes with social and occupational functioning.