Alzheimer’s Disease: Tips for the Newly Diagnosed

A person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease will notice many changes. It’s getting to be more difficult to remember things, make decisions, and find your way around. It’s frustrating a good deal of the time, but there are good days and bad days. Here are some things you can do to make things just a little better and to make things feel a bit more "normal" again.

How can I cope with my memory problems?

  • Always keep a notebook with you to record important information, phone numbers, names, ideas you have, appointments, your address, and directions to your home.
  • Place notes around the house when you need to remember things.
  • Label cupboards and drawers with words or pictures that describe their contents.
  • Place important phone numbers in large print next to the phone.
  • Ask a friend or family member to call and remind you of important things you need to remember, such as meal times, medication times, and appointments.
  • Use a calendar to keep track of time and to remember important dates.
  • Use photos of people you see often, labeled with their names.
  • Keep track of phone messages with an answering machine.

What’s the best way to plan the day?

  • Find things to do that you enjoy and are able to do safely.
  • It will be easier to accomplish tasks during the times of the day when you feel best.
  • Allow yourself the time to do the things you need to do, and don’t feel rushed or let other people rush you.
  • If something gets too difficult, take a break.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

How can I avoid getting lost?

  • Ask someone to go with you when you go out.
  • Ask for help if you need it, and explain that you have a memory problem.

What will make communicating easier?

  • Always take your time and don’t feel rushed.
  • If you need to, ask the person you’re speaking with to repeat what he or she is saying, or to speak slowly if you do not understand.
  • Avoid distracting noises and find a quiet place to talk.

Can I continue to drive?

No, driving is a very difficult task. Even persons with very mild symptoms have more crashes. This is a danger to you and others. Talk to your family about an alternative.

How do I take care of myself at home?

  • Your doctor or a local Alzheimer’s organization can tell you how to get help with things such as shopping, housekeeping, meals (including home-delivered meals), and transportation.
  • Ask a neighbor you trust to keep a set of your house keys.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you to organize your closets and drawers to make it easier for you 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 ensure that everything is all right.

How do I manage my responsibilities?

  • Ask a family member to check things around the house, such as electrical appliances, mail, and perishable food items.
  • Arrange for direct deposit of checks, such as your retirement pension or Social Security benefits.
  • Inform your bank if you have difficulty keeping track of your accounts and record keeping. They may provide special services for people who have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Ask someone to check your smoke alarm regularly.
References

Alzheimer’s Association.
www.alz.org
Accessed 8/3/2011

National Institute on Aging.
Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral Center.
www.nia.nih.gov
Accessed 8/3/2011

Carlsson Cynthia M, Gleason Carey E, Puglielli Luigi, Asthana Sanjay, "Chapter 65. Dementia Including Alzheimer's Disease" (Chapter). Halter JB, Ouslander JG, Tinetti ME, Studenski S, High, KP, Asthana S: Hazzard’s Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 6e: www.accessmedicine.com.


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