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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer’s: Answers to Common Questions

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

  • Keep her surroundings and routine the same. If you have to make changes, do it gradually.
  • Make things simple, and avoid situations where she has to make decisions.
  • Describe the events for the day to her. Remind her of the date, day, time, place, etc. And repeat the names of the people she sees often.
  • Put large labels (with words or pictures) on drawers and shelves so she’ll know what’s in or on them.
  • If she doesn't seem to understand something you’ve said, use simpler words or sentences.
  • Make sure she takes her medicines on schedule.
  • 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 hardest parts of Alzheimer's disease. Some medicines may help slow down symptoms. There are also some ways to help her hold on to the things she does remember.

  • Use notes, lists, and memos  to remind her of her daily tasks.
  • Keep photos of family members and friends where she can see them. Label them with names if you need to. Get her to talk about the people or the hobbies she used to enjoy.
  • Make sure she gets enough sleep.
  • Encourage her to read, do puzzles, write, or do other things that keep her mind active. But if she gets frustrated, don’t push her to keep going.

6. Can ginkgo biloba cure Alzheimer's?

For many years, people thought this extract from the ginkgo tree might be a memory booster. But there’s no evidence that it works in treating or preventing Alzheimer's. In fact, it may be harmful. Other studies show that taking it every day may cause dangerous side effects, such as too much bleeding.

7. Is exercise good for someone with Alzheimer's disease?

Yes. Exercise improves strength and endurance and keeps the heart healthy. It can also give your loved one more energy and improve his mood and sleep. Physical activity also helps people with Alzheimer's disease keep up their motor skills and balance, which can help them avoid serious injuries from falls. It can make the brain work better, too.

The type of exercise that’s right for your loved one depends on how much the disease affects him. Someone in the early stages of the disease may enjoy walking, bowling, dancing, golf, and swimming. As the disease gets worse, he may need more supervision. Talk to his doctor before he starts any exercise program.

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