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Alzheimer's disease: Tips for maintaining a normal life

Coping with the memory problems and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be challenging.

Here are some tips to help maintain as normal a life as possible after an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

How do I cope with my memory problems?

To help cope with memory problems:

  • Always keep a book with you to record important information, phone numbers, names, ideas you have, appointments, your address, and directions to your home.
  • Use sticky 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 that you need to do in the day, like meal times, medication times, and appointments.
  • Use a calendar to keep track of time and to remember important dates.
  • Use photos of people you regularly see labelled with their names.
  • Keep track of phone messages by using an answering machine.

What's the best way to plan the day?

In planning your day:

  • Find things to do that you enjoy and are able to do safely on your own.
  • 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, have a rest.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

How do I avoid getting lost?

To stop yourself 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.
  • Always take directions for where you're going with you.

What will make communicating easier?

Communicating with others will be easier if you:

  • 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.

What about driving?

If someone has been diagnosed with dementia, they may be able to continue driving for some time, but they must fulfil some legal requirements. This includes telling the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about the condition. When a person's condition deteriorates so that they would be unsafe on the road, they must stop driving. The Alzheimer’s Society says many people find this very difficult to accept, and has advice on its website.

How do I take care of myself at home?

To make sure you are well taken care of at home, put some of these measures into place early so they become routine:

  • Alzheimer’s disease organisations or your doctor will be able to tell you how to get help with things like shopping, housekeeping, meals (including home-delivered meals), and transportation.
  • Ask a neighbour you trust to keep a set of house keys.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you to organise your cupboards and drawers to make it easier for you to find things.
  • Ask a family member, friend or neighbour to check things around the house, such as electrical appliances, post, and perishable food items.
  • Keep a list of important and emergency numbers by the phone.
  • Have family, friends, or a community service programme call or visit daily to ensure that everything is OK.
  • Ask someone to check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm regularly.
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