Dealing with Alzheimer’s

The first point is to understand what behaviour is common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, people may have personality changes, have difficulty communication, and may have trouble remembering recent events. In later stages, people become more confused, and may not recognize family and friends.

The thing to remember is: “If they do behaviours that are out of the ordinary or so unlike them, it is caused by the disease; the person is not doing it on purpose,” the Byrd Institute says.

Because AD causes brain cells to die, the brain works less well over time. This changes how a person acts. You will notice that he or she will have good days and bad days.

Here are some common personality changes you may see:

·         Getting upset, worried, and angry more easily

·         Acting depressed or not interested in things

·         Hiding things or believing other people are hiding things

·         Imagining things that aren’t there

·         Wandering away from home

·         Pacing a lot of the time

·         Hitting you or other people

·         Misunderstanding what he or she sees or hears

  • Paranoid about their possessions

Also the following:

  • Refusal to acknowledge that there is something wrong with them
  • In addition, you may notice that the person stops caring about how he or she looks, stops bathing, and wants to wear the same clothes every day.
  • Getting very upset with change in routine

Other factors that may affect how people with AD behave

How they feel:

  • Sadness, fear, or a feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Stress caused by something or someone
  • Confusion after a change in routine, including travel
  • Anxiety about going to a certain place
  • Someone with AD may think that a mirror image is another person in the room.

Things the person living alone may do or forget to do

  • Forget to eat or take prescribed medication
  • Forget to bathe or change their clothes regularly
  • Lack awareness of potentially hazardous situations such as fire or electrical appliances
  • Show poor judgement about who they let into the house
  • Forget to feed or care for pets
  • Have unrealistic ideas or suspicions which can lead to trouble with neighbours, the police or the community.

Some of these situations may be able to be dealt with fairly simply. For instance, if the person is forgetting to eat, arranging for delivered meals, such as meals-on-wheels and then making a phone call or have a person visit to remind them to eat the meal may help. Some of the situations however may compromise the person’s safety and well-being, and a move to more supervised care may have to be arranged.

Alzheimer’s tips for family members:

  • Keep communication simple and questions to a minimum to prevent frustration.
    • If they ask you the same question repeatedly, don’t point out they just asked it. Keep your answer short and to the point.
    • Do not quiz or try to reason with a person with Alzheimer’s because it may upset him or her.
    • Make eye contact, smile, and hold hands. Non-verbal contact is often helpful in calming people.
    • Do not ask them: “Do you remember who I am?” Instead, introduce yourself and your connection to them. For example, say, “Hi, Sarah. It’s your next door neighbour Elizabeth.”
    • Focus on the skills they have, not the skills they’ve lost.
    • Keep distractions at a minimum. Lower the volume of the television or radio.
    • Ask the caregiver what activities the person still enjoys.
    • Be patient.
    • Be reassuring.



  1. Do use techniques to attract and maintain the person’s attention.
  2. Do make all communications short, simple, and clear.
  3. Do identify yourself to person with Alzheimer’s disease if there appears to be any doubt he or she knows who you are.
  4. Do call the person by name.
  5. Do speak slowly.
  6. Do use closed-ended questions that can be answered “Yes” or “No.”
  7. Do find a different way to say the same thing if it wasn’t understood the first time(s).
  8. Douse distraction, partial truths, or even “fiblets” when necessary, if telling the whole truth will upset the person with dementia.
  9. Do use repetition as much as necessary.
  10. Do be aware that the tone in which something is said may be as important, or more important, than the actual content.
  11. Be prepared for the unexpected. A person with Alzheimer’s will suddenly hit out at someone they know well.
  12. Be prepared for a challenging time. Alzheimer patients will act unexpectedly. Family members or caregivers will bear the brunt of emotional and physical outbursts.



  1. Don’t ever say:    Do you remember? Did you forget…? How could you not know that? Try to remember!
  2. Don’t argue with the person if he/she says they are going away/on a trip/ want to go home. Play along and say you will help them pack later. They will forget about it in a few seconds.
  3. If they say they want to go home, don’t argue with them. Calm them down and say you will go later.
  4. Don’t ask questions that directly challenge short-term memory.
  5. Don’t talk in paragraphs.
  6. Don’t say anything that points out the person’s memory difficulty.
  7. Don’t talk in front of the person as if he or she were not present.
  8. Don’t use lots of pronouns.
  9. Don’t use slang, unfamiliar words, or jargon.
  10. Don’t use patronizing language or “baby talk.”
  11. Don’t use sarcasm, irony, or similar forms of banter.
  12. Don’t be impatient.

Home Based Caregiving