Part IV Coping With Alzheimer’s Disease- Top 10 Strategies Every Caregiver Should Know

This is the 4th and final blog in our series focusing on Alzheimer’s Disease. We hope you have enjoyed educating yourself about the symptoms, stages, and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease…and find the following strategies helpful when caring for your loved one.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can have high physical, emotional, and financial costs. Becoming well-informed about the disease is one important long-term strategy. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes memory difficulties, cognitive delays, communication problems, mood swings and personality changes. Caregivers can best meet these challenges by using creativity, flexibility, patience and compassion…and a sense of humor.

Coping Strategies for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Set realistic goals:

Don’t set your expectations higher than attainable. Maybe, a successful goal is that your loved one be clean, comfortable, and well nourished. Be flexible. Symptoms and needs will change over time and goals will need to be changed with time as well.

  1. State your message clearly:

Realize that someone with Alzheimer’s will misinterpret verbal and non-verbal cues often, causing frustration on both ends. Always identify yourself, call your loved one by name in order to orient or get their attention, and treat them with dignity and respect, as you keep eye contact and come to their level. Other strategies include: speak slowly and with a lower pitch (rather than loud or high), repeat demands using same words, ask simple questions with yes/no answers, reduce background noise and distractions, and use simple words (less pronouns, more specific names or titles) and sentences.

  1. Set a positive mood for interaction:

Use body language and nonverbal cues that create respect, acceptance, and a pleasant atmosphere. Use facial expressions, tone of voice and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection.

  1. Break down activities into a series of steps:

This makes many tasks much more manageable. Using visual cues and gestures can be very helpful.

  1. When the going gets tough, distract and redirect:

When your loved one becomes upset, try changing the subject or the environment. It is important to connect with the person on a feeling level, before you redirect. You might say, “I see you’re feeling sad—I’m sorry you’re upset. Let’s go for a walk.” Try to accommodate the behavior, rather than control it.

  1. Reminisce about the past:

Remembering the past is often a soothing and affirming activity. Many people with dementia may not remember what happened 45 minutes ago, but they can clearly recall their lives 45 years earlier. Watch family videos, look at old photographs, talk about past trips, share the history they remember with family members, grandchildren and friends.

  1. Offer a sense of control:

All of us want to feel like we’re in control of our own lives and have the capability to make our own choices. This doesn’t change when someone has dementia — even the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Offer an “illusion of control” by giving options, letting your loved one make choices within reason, thanking them for letting you help out with their care.

  1. Respond with affection and reassurance:

People with dementia often feel confused, anxious, and confused about reality. Avoid trying to convince them they are wrong, but rather respond with verbal and physical expressions of comfort, support and reassurance. Sometimes holding hands, touching, hugging and praise will get the person to respond when all else fails.

  1. Become an educated caregiver:

As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills may be necessary. The Alzheimer’s Association offers programs to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that often accompany Alzheimer’s.

  1. Take care of yourself:

Visit your doctor regularly. Watch your diet, exercise and get plenty of rest. Making sure that you stay healthy will help you be a better caregiver. Trying to do everything by yourself will leave you exhausted. Seek the support of family, friends and caregivers going through similar experiences.

pict_6Contact Luba Services, Inc. today for help with caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Part III Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease & Adaptations You Can Make for Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s

pills_2Alzheimer’s Disease is complex, and it is unlikely that any one intervention will be found to delay, prevent, or cure it. However, research has shown that the following treatment strategies can help improve the quality of life for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, as well as provide support for his/her caregivers.

MEDICATIONS help maintain mental function:

Several different types of medications are used to treat memory loss, behavior changes, sleep problems, speaking skills, and help maintain thinking. These drugs work by regulating neurotransmitters (the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons). These medications won’t stop the disease, but they can slow down the progression of symptoms for a few months or even years.

  • Antidepressantstreat irritability and mood disorders.
  • Anxiolyticstreat anxiety, restlessness, verbally disruptive behavior, and resistance.
  • Antipsychotic medicationstreat hallucinations, delusions, agitation, aggression, hostility and uncooperativeness.

[*The decision to use an antipsychotic drug needs to be considered with extreme caution. Research has shown that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of stroke and death in older adults with dementia.]


foodsPeople with Alzheimer’s may forget to eat, lose interest in preparing meals or not eat a healthy combination of foods. They may also forget to drink enough, leading to dehydration and constipation.

  • High-calorie, healthy shakes and smoothies-blend favorite fruits, veggies, yogurts, and add protein powders to supplement.
  • Water, juice and other healthy beverages-encourage several glasses of fluids per day, avoid beverages with caffeine, which can increase restlessness, interfere with sleep and trigger frequent need to urinate.
  • A diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables-heart-healthy choices support cognitive health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids– heart-healthy and supports cognitive health as well.


EXERCISE supports heart health, prevents cognitive decline, and improves mood:

Create a wellness plan that includes activities such as a daily 30-minute walk, 20 minutes on a stationary bike, chair aerobics, modified yoga, or exercise classes offered at your local senior center.  Social engagement will make life more enjoyable and promote intellectual stimulation.  Benefits include improved mood, healthy joints, muscles, and heart, more restful sleep, and prevention of constipation.


There is some evidence that sensory therapies such as music therapy and art therapy can improve Alzheimer’s patients’ mood, behavior, and day-to-day function. By stimulating the senses, these therapies may help trigger memory recall and enable Alzheimer’s patients to reconnect with the world around them.

As you can see, managing the behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease requires a multi-faceted approach. Along with the above strategies, adapting the living situation to the needs of a person with Alzheimer’s is an important part of any treatment plan. For someone with Alzheimer’s, establishing and strengthening routine habits and minimizing memory-demanding tasks can make life much easier.

And support is only a phone call away…contact Luba Services, Inc. today to inquire how we can help!

Click here to see our guide to making daily life easier for a family affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

Part II The Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and Symptoms – When and How to Prepare for a Visit With Your Doctor

Welcome to the 2nd piece of our 4-part blog series highlighting helpful information about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In this article, we will define the 3 stages of AD, the importance of early detection, and what information you should take to your doctor regarding Alzheimer’s symptoms.


Early (Mild) Stage

The most common early symptom is trouble recalling something you just learned.  Some other common symptoms are:

  • Forgetting things like where you placed personal items
  • Getting lost in familiar environments
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, like paying bills,  handling money, making dinner
  • Difficulty making decisions, poor judgment
  • Having trouble coming up with the right words sometimes
  • Repeating questions
  • Visual/spatial issues and slow reaction times
  • Having mood and personality changes, irritability, anxiety, and depression

If you or a loved one have these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Most cases of Alzheimer’s are diagnosed in this stage. With early detection, a health care professional can prescribe medications or treatment that may slow down memory loss, preserve function for some time, and provide support for the diagnosed individual as well as family members.

blog_photo_7Mild Alzheimer’s can last for years. A loved one may function quite well overall and be able to live on their own.  But they will need to rely on a strong support system of family, friends, and caregivers to ensure their safety, health, and well-being.


Middle (Moderate) Stage

This is the longest stage of Alzheimer’s. It can last many years, depending on the individual. Damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. Symptoms include:

  • Short-term and long-term memory loss, such as forgetting home address or phone number, not always recognizing family or friends, etc.
  • Increasing difficulty communicating with others
  • Demonstrating very poor judgment
  • Having trouble carrying out multiple-stepped tasks such as getting dressed, personal care, hygiene tasks
  • Being restless, resistive, or combative with physical care (often toward loved ones)
  • Potential for wandering away from home
  • Personality changes such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, depression, anxiety, anger, impulsiveness, or violence

blog_photo9When a loved one has Moderate Alzheimer’s, providing care may be taxing for the primary caregiver. Many families benefit from home care services, such as Luba Services, Inc., which will provide support from nursing assistants that are trained in Alzheimer’s care. Loved ones with Alzheimer’s might also need to move to a facility specializing in Alzheimer’s care, such as an assisted living center or nursing home.

Late (Severe) Stage

In late-stage Alzheimer’s,a loved one may no longer be aware of where they are or remember their life history. Other symptoms are:

  • Inability to recognize others, or recognizing familiar faces but not names
  • Difficulty communicating due to decreased vocabulary
  • Demonstrating habits like wringing hands or shredding tissues
  • Diminishing physical abilities, including decreased mobility, strength, difficulty with eating, and incontinence
  • Wandering and getting lost
  • Increasing personality changes, withdrawal from surroundings

With Severe Alzheimer’s, family members will need a great deal of help with daily activities and personal care. By the final stage, plaques and tangles have spread throughout the brain, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly. Those with severe Alzheimer’s cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others for their care. Near the end, your loved one may be in bed most or all of the time and are more prone to illnesses as their body loses strength. Vulnerability to pneumonia, aspirating food, urinary tract infections, and injuries from falls are noted risks. Your loved one may not be able to communicate pain or symptoms of an illness, side effects of medications, or follow a treatment plan.

Check back with us next week for Part III of our Alzheimer’s Series, focused on the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Part I What is Alzheimer’s Disease 10 Warning Signs That Caregivers Should Look For in an Aging Loved One

Welcome to our 4-part blog series focused on the most common progressive degenerative disorder seen in today’s aging population…Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

In this opening blog, we will look at the definition of AD, how to differentiate between dementia and AD, common signs of memory loss, and warning signs that indicate it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

nfts__apIt is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s Disease,currently affecting one in ten of people aged 65 and over. Due to advanced medicine and improved health care, the number of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050 to 88.5 million or 20 percent of the population.   In turn, those 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Like all types of dementia, AD is caused by brain cell death, killing nerve cells and tissue in the brain, causing it to shrink dramatically. Plaques (“amyloid plaques”) are found between the dying cells in the brain, and tangles are within the brain neurons. AD affects a person’s ability to communicate, to think and, eventually, to breathe. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

Quick Facts About Alzheimer’s:

  • The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning.
  • Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.
  • Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
  • People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends.

As we age, most of us eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing. There is a significant difference between being absent-minded or preoccupied and having Alzheimer’s.