Day-to-Day Living With Alzheimer's Disease

Living with Alzheimer's disease is a challenge for anyone. You’ll have good days and bad days. But there are some things you can do to help your memory, plan your day, and get around.

How Do I Deal With Memory Problems?

As it gets harder to remember things, you can use a few strategies to help your memory. You may have to try a few different ones before you find what works for you. To start:

  • Keep a notebook or smartphone with you to keep track of important information, phone numbers, names, ideas you have, appointments, your address, and directions to your home.
  • Put sticky notes around the house with reminders for yourself.
  • Label cupboards and drawers with words or pictures that describe their contents.
  • Ask a friend or family member to call and remind you of important things you need to do during the day, like taking medication and going to appointments.
  • Keep photos of people you see often, and label the photos with their names.

What's the Best Way to Plan the Day?

  • Focus on things you enjoy and are able to do safely on your own.
  • Take advantage of the times of the day when you feel best. It will be easier to get things done.
  • Allow yourself the time to do what you need to do. Don't feel like you have to hurry or let other people rush you.
  • If something gets too hard, take a break.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

How Do I Avoid Getting Lost?

You may not be able to find your way around as well as you used to, even in familiar places. Take steps to prepare, such as:

  • Ask someone to go with you when you go out. Take directions with you, even if you’re going somewhere you’ve been before.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you want to, you can explain that you have a memory problem.

What Will Make Communicating Easier?

Keep these tips in mind when you’re trying to talk with others:

  • Always take your time, and don't feel like you need to rush.
  • If you need to, ask the person you're speaking with to repeat what she’s saying or to speak slowly.
  • Avoid distracting noises, and find a quiet place to talk.

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What About Driving?

Talk to your doctor at each visit about driving. At some point, it may no longer be safe for you to drive. Until that happens, try to drive only in areas that you know well so you won’t get lost. Ask the Department of Motor Vehicles about testing your driving skills.

Just because you no longer drive doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get where you need to go. Try other ways to get around:

  • Have someone give you a ride.
  • If you tend to get lost or confused easily, take taxis or public transportation.

Contact organizations like the Alzheimer's Association to learn what local transportation services are available.

How Do I Take Care of Myself at Home?

To make sure you’re safe and have what you need at home, put some of these measures in place early so they become routine:

  • Look into getting help with things like shopping, housekeeping, meals (including home-delivered ones), and transportation. The Area Agency on Aging or a local Alzheimer’s organization can recommend some services.
  • Ask a neighbor you trust to keep a set of your house keys.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you organize your closets and drawers to make it easier to find things.
  • Keep a list of important and emergency numbers by the phone.
  • Have family, friends, or a community service program call or visit daily to make sure everything is OK.
  • Ask someone to check your smoke alarm regularly.

How Do I Manage My Money?

  • Arrange for direct deposit of checks, such as your retirement pension or Social Security benefits.
  • Choose someone you trust to handle your finances should you no longer be able to. Then visit a lawyer to be sure that you have the proper paperwork in order for any Living Will or Power of Attorney that you may need.

It’s important to realize that at some point, it will be too hard or dangerous for you to live by yourself. But in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s, many people do manage on their own with support and help from friends, family, and community programs. Simple changes and safety practices can make a big difference.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on March 10, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Alzheimer's Association: "10 Tips for Keeping Your Independence" and "Daily Care."

National Institute on Aging: "Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease."

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