Alzheimer's Disease - Home Treatment
If you have just been diagnosed with
Alzheimer's disease, you may feel angry, frightened,
depressed, anxious, and worried about the future. Although the disease does get
worse over time, some people are able to continue their usual activities for
many years, even if at a reduced level or in different ways.
Common issues faced by people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease
and by their families include:
- Whether to continue
driving. People in the very early stages of
Alzheimer's disease can have their driving performance checked regularly to
make sure they can drive safely. Family members can help find out about changes
in the person's ability to drive by riding along when the person is driving.
Talk to your loved one's doctor if you are concerned about his or her ability
to drive safely.
- What kind of
legal and financial planning to do. Soon after the
diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, consider writing a
living will and assigning a
durable power of attorney for health care. These
documents will ensure that your wishes for medical care are documented.
The following tips may be helpful in the early stages of
- Tailor tasks to abilities. A task may take
longer than it used to, but if you want to continue doing it, you should try.
Make changes as needed. For example, if you no longer feel comfortable cooking,
consider other tasks you are comfortable with, such as helping with shopping
and meal planning or setting the table. Try making recipes that are
- Make your home safe. Tack down rugs, put nonslip tape in
the tub or use handrails, and put safety switches on stoves and appliances if
you have trouble remembering to turn them off. Think about the risk of injury
as well as the benefits of independence from continuing to
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet. It's important to get
plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables every day. If you aren't hungry
at mealtimes, plan snacks for midmorning and afternoon. Consider supplement
drinks such as Boost, Ensure, or Sustacal if you are having trouble gaining
- Some people with dementia have trouble sleeping. If you do,
avoid napping during the day, get regular exercise (but not within several
hours of bedtime), and try drinking a glass of warm milk or caffeine-free
herbal tea before you go to bed.
- Deal with depression. Many people
with dementia have a problem with depression too. Talk with your family or
friends about how you feel. And ask your doctor what you can do to help with
depression. You may feel better if you spend more time with other people (for
example, going to events at a senior center or volunteering). Or you may need
to talk to a counselor or try medicines.
- Schedule activities and
tasks for times of day when you are best able to handle them. It may be helpful
to build a routine that doesn't vary much from day to day. You may feel less
frustrated or confused with a clear, simple daily schedule.
creative in dealing with memory problems. Use labels, lists, sticky notes, and
other helpful devices as reminders. Write daily activities on a calendar or
daily planner, and keep it where you can refer to it often. Keep calendars and
clocks in clear view.
- Before you go out alone, write down the
destination, how to get there, and how to get back home, even if you have gone
there many times before. Take someone along with you when
- Remain active. Staying active and involved may slow the
deterioration of mental abilities.
- Plan for the future. You should
review legal and financial documents while your judgment is clear and you can
Information for caregivers