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Daily Care Tips

Currently I'm following 2,300 Alzheimer's patients in my practice.  These patients are all unique and, in spite of the commonality of the symptoms, each individual experiences life with Alzheimer's or Mild Cognitive Impairment differently.  And the loved ones and care givers of these individuals encounter an entirely different set of challenges.  Here I will share with you some tips for daily care, to help you better cope with the struggles that accompany this illness.


• Maintain a routine; if the AD sufferer has a particular time of day that is best, schedule activities accordingly. Try to do things at the same time of day.

• Eliminate clutter and distractions; minimize background noise to help the person focus better on the task at hand.

• Maintain a quiet, calm atmosphere as much as possible.

• Prepare for tasks ahead of time and gather everything you need to complete the task so there are no unnecessary interruptions.

• Encourage the person to do as much as possible for himself or herself, whether it is bathing, dressing, eating or other daily chores.

• Offer limited choices to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed.

• When the person becomes agitated or frustrated, offer help or provide a distraction.

• Serve small food portions with varied colors and textures. Look for familiar flavors.

• Choose tools, such as eating utensils or grooming items, that are easy to handle. For example, a bowl may be easier than a plate; cups with lids or straws may make drinking easier.

• Help maintain functional skills by involving the person in daily chores.

• Use soothing rituals, especially at night, with dim lights, quiet voices, and peaceful music.

• Aim for the same bedtime every evening. Develop routines associated with going to bed.

• Use night lights to combat fear or disorientation

• On any outing, bring along something to eat and drink as well as an activity to occupy time.

• When scheduling appointments, aim for the person’s “best” time of day or the least crowded time.

• Notify the office staff ahead of time that the person may be confused or agitated.

• Wait until shortly before the appointment to discuss it so there is no time for worrying.

• Avoid violent or disturbing television programs. Some AD sufferers cannot separate them from reality.

• “Sundowning” syndrome refers to restlessness and agitation that many people with AD experience in the evening. Limit daytime napping, schedule exercise and more demanding activities earlier in the day.

Health and Safety

• Remove loose rugs or anything else that might cause a trip-and-fall accident.

• Store any dangerous items. Use childproof latches on drawers or cabinets where knives, medications, chemicals or cleaning supplies, and other dangerous items are kept.

• Be vigilant about cooking safety. Look into automatic shut-off features for stoves, irons and other potential fire hazards.

• Do all you can to prevent wandering: keep outside doors and windows locked, sometimes with additional high or low locks; install buzzers if needed.

• Make sure the person wears some type of identification, such as a bracelet, that provides both contact information and alerts others to the person’s medical condition.

• Keep a recent picture of the person at hand if he or she becomes lost.

• Find out if the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program is available in your area.

• Let your neighbors know about the possibility of wandering.

• Encourage drinking plenty of fluids. Limit fluids, especially those with caffeine, in the evening to prevent nighttime accidents.

• Incorporate some type of exercise into the daily routine. Start slowly and build up. Look for exercise programs available nearby, such as walking clubs at the mall.

Grooming and Hygiene

• Establish a routine for bathroom visits at preset intervals, such as every two or three hours; the person may not remember to ask.

• On outings, plan ahead by knowing bathroom locations; always take a change of clothing in case of accidents.

• Plan bathing for the “best” time of day. Remember that it can be scary for some people.

• Choose clothing that is easy to put on or take off without the fuss of snaps, buttons and zippers.

• Arrange items, such as clothing or grooming implements, in the order they are to be used to help the person go logically through the process.

Social Interaction

• Explain what you are doing to do. Give step-by-step instructions to help the person to do things on his or her own. Break tasks into small pieces.

• Help the person get started on a task. Break it into small steps and offer praise and encouragement as each step is completed.

• Speak calmly in simple, positive sentences. Call the person by name to focus attention. Allow time to think through the response. Curb your inclination to interrupt or hurry.

• Respond calmly to fears and anxieties and don’t try to argue. Sometimes hallucinations or delusions occur, and it’s best to respond to those feelings with comfort and distractions, such as going to another room or outside for a walk. of the person at hand if he or she becomes lost.