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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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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 6/24/2011...#9593