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Managing Complications of Alzheimer's Disease


Many people with Alzheimer's disease die of other problems, including bladder infections, flu, and pneumonia. You can help prevent infections and get prompt treatment for complications by taking these steps for your loved one:

  • Talk to their doctor about getting a flu shot for them each year.
  • A one-time pneumonia shot after age 65 is also a good idea.
  • Cranberry juice or capsules may help protect against urinary tract infections.
  • Watch for sudden changes in symptoms or behaviors, or a fever. These can point to an infection.


Sleep Problems

People with Alzheimer's may feel sleepy during the day but have trouble sleeping through the night. Here's how you can help improve your loved one's ability to rest:

Stick to a schedule. Keep them on a regular schedule for bedtime, waking up, and meals.

No naps. Discourage napping during the day. Save sleeping for nighttime.

Get outside. Spend time outdoors, especially in bright sunlight early in the day. This can promote better sleep at night.

Avoid "sleep wreckers." Urge your loved one to stop using caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Check medications. Ask their doctor or pharmacist if any of their medicines could affect sleep.


Someone with Alzheimer's may feel a strong need to go elsewhere. However, if your loved one leaves home alone, they could be in danger. To prevent wandering:

  • Make doors difficult to open. You may need to place locks higher on doors.
  • Put alarms on doors so they sound an alert when they're opened.
  • Keep car keys hidden.

In case your loved one does wander away, be sure they wear an ID bracelet to make it easier for them to get help finding their way home.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on June 26, 2013
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