Managing the symptoms of Alzheimer's | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog

By sitecore\ZSnyder


What You Need To Know About The Illness of The Memory & Mind

Alzheimer's disease steals memory. And as this progressive disease gets worse, your loved one will lose crucial communication skills, such as remembering and understanding words.

Alzheimer's disease can also affect personality, and your loved one may become agitated and aggressive. He or she may also start wandering aimlessly and could even get lost—a safety concern.

But you're not powerless. There are ways to make these changes less stressful for both you and your loved one. Steps like these can help:

Improve communication

  • Get your loved one's attention. Make eye contact and call him or her by name. Limit distractions—turn off the TV or radio, close the curtains or shut the door.
  • Be positive and patient. Hold your loved one's hand when talking. Keep your voice gentle. Be open to his or her concerns, even if you have a hard time understanding. If you're frustrated, take a timeout for yourself.
  • Show respect. Avoid baby talk or using a baby voice. Don't talk about your loved one as though they weren't there. Encourage two-way conversation for as long as possible.
  • Avoid criticism. For example, say, "Let's try it this way," rather than pointing out mistakes.
  • Keep it simple. Break down directions into single steps. You might also ask questions that require a "yes" or "no" answer, such as "Are you cold?" instead of "How do you feel?"

Ease agitation and aggression

  • Offer reassurance. When your loved one is angry or fearful, show you understand by listening and responding calmly.
  • Don't take away all control. Try to give your loved one as much personal choice as possible. For example, offer him or her simple options whenever possible.
  • Try to stick to a routine. For instance, your loved one might eat, bathe and dress at the same time every day. And be sure to build in consistent quiet times, along with activities.
  • Know how to soothe. To help your loved one feel secure, keep photos and keepsakes easily visible. Reduce potentially startling noise, clutter and number of people near him or her at any time. Look for early signs of agitation and calm your loved one right away with soothing music, a gentle touch or the distraction of a favorite activity.

Control wandering

  • Make time for exercise. See that your loved one stays active to help minimize restlessness that might trigger wandering.
  • Take precautions. Because you can't always prevent wandering, you may want to camouflage doors with a barrier like a curtain. A sign that says "stop" may help too. You might also add child-safe plastic covers to doorknobs and put away his or her coat or hat. This may help discourage him or her from heading outside.