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Managing Complications of Alzheimer's Disease

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People in the later stages of Alzheimer’s have a higher risk of infections, including bladder infections, flu, and pneumonia. They might sound like minor illnesses, but they can be deadly. Lower your loved one’s chances of getting sick:

  • Talk to his doctor about getting a flu shot 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. But you can help improve your loved one's ability to rest:

Stick to a schedule. Keep him 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 him to stop using caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

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


In the later stages of the disease, memory problems and confusion may give your loved one sudden urges to wander away from home. But if he leaves home alone, he could be in danger. To prevent wandering:

  • Make doors hard 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 he wears an ID bracelet to make it easier for him to get help finding his way home.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on August 19, 2015
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