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If You Have Alzheimer's

Introduction
Coping with memory loss
Coping with your feelings
Planning for the future

Introduction

Alzheimer's disease causes gradual, irreversible changes in the brain. These changes cause problems with memory and decision making. You may be worried or anxious about the changes you've noticed so far. Here are tips to help you increase your comfort, allow you to remain active and help you cope – and make your years ahead the best they can be.

Coping with memory loss

While you may clearly remember things that happened long ago, recent events can be quickly forgotten. You may have trouble keeping track of time, remembering people and finding the right words.

Tips:

  • Keep a notebook with you that has people's names, telephone numbers and addresses, including your own.
  • Label cupboards and drawers with words or pictures that describe their contents, such as dishes and silverware or sweaters and socks.
  • Keep a set of photos of people you see regularly; label the photos with names and what each does.

Coping with your feelings

Living with the changes caused by Alzheimer's disease can bring about many unfamiliar emotions. These feelings are a normal response to the disease.

Tips:

  • The disease can make you feel as if you are losing control. Telling those around you how you feel may give you comfort.
  • Feeling angry is OK. Sometimes being part of a support group or talking to a counselor who knows about Alzheimer's disease can help.
  • You may feel sadness when faced with the changes that the disease brings to your life. It may help to spend time with friends or family or to do something you enjoy.

Planning for the future

The symptoms you are experiencing will gradually worsen and you will need more help. There is no way to predict how or when this will happen. Make decisions about your living arrangements and legal and money matters as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Tips:

  • Talk to your family about where you want to live, and with whom, to prepare for the time when you will need more care.
  • Make sure your money matters are in the hands of someone you trust, like your spouse, your child or a close friend.

Consider naming a person to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so. This person should know your wishes about your health care and future living arrangements.


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