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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer's Disease Frequently Asked Questions

4. My mother has Alzheimer's disease, and I've noticed she is getting more confused. How can I help her?

There are several things you can try to help a person who is confused:

  • Try to minimize any changes in the surroundings or to your loved one's daily routine. If you have to make changes in routines, do so gradually.
  • Follow simple routines and avoid situations that require the person with Alzheimer's disease to make decisions.
  • Help your loved one maintain his or her orientation by describing the events for the day, reminding him or her of the date, day, time, place, etc., and repeating the names of the people with whom he or she has contact.
  • Try placing large labels (with words or pictures) on drawers and shelves to identify their contents.
  • Simplify or re-word your statements or requests if the person doesn't seem to understand.
  • Make certain that medications are being taken regularly and at the right times.
  • Provide a nutritious diet and encourage your loved one to exercise, if he or she is able.
  • Be patient and supportive.

5. Is there anything I can do to help my mother preserve what memory she has left?

Losing cherished memories is one of the devastating consequences of Alzheimer's disease. Some medications used to treat Alzheimer's disease may help slow the progression of symptoms and there are some techniques you can use to help enhance what memory exists.

  • Use notes, lists, memos, etc., to help remind the person with Alzheimer's disease of his or her daily tasks.
  • Keep photos of family members and friends where the person can see them. Label photos with names, if necessary. Reminisce with him or her about the family, or activities he or she once enjoyed.
  • Use memory "tricks"; for example, thinking of the word HOMES to remember the great lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.
  • Use labels (with words or pictures) placed on drawers and shelves to identify their contents.
  • Limit your loved one's alcohol consumption and try to ensure he or she gets adequate sleep.
  • Remind him or her of the date, day, time, place, etc., and repeat the names of the people with whom he or she has contact.
  • Encourage your loved one to exercise his or her mind by reading, doing puzzles, writing, etc., as well as to exercise his or her body as appropriate. However, avoid challenging your loved one to the point of frustration.

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