Ways of Coping with Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease

Because of the many changes that Alzheimer's Disease brings, coping from day to day can be a challenge. Losing the ability to do things that used to be easy for you can be extremely frustrating. You may find that despite being able to perform daily functions, it is much more difficult to do certain tasks than it was before. The following strategies may be helpful to you to ease the impact of the disease on your daily life:

Coping With Memory Changes

  • Start a memory notebook where you can write down important things, such as the location of essential items in your home, names and phone numbers of people you may need to contact, your address, and directions to your home.
  • Use a calendar that is visible to you daily to keep track of time as well as important appointments.
  • Label your drawers and cupboards to help you remember their contents.
  • Use post-it notes to write yourself reminders to turn off appliances and lock doors.
  • Write down a schedule of daily tasks, including medications you take and the times of day you take them, meal times, bedtime, and any other parts of your schedule. Refer to it regularly.
  • Have somebody call to remind you of the key activities in your daily schedule.
  • Have somebody help you to organize a pill box that has separate compartments for each day of the week.

Coping With Changes in Your Ability to Perform Tasks

  • When tasks such as balancing your checkbook, preparing meals, or performing other familiar duties become more difficult, the following suggestions may be helpful: Be patient with yourself. Take your time and give yourself breaks when you need them. Attempt more difficult tasks at the time(s) of day when you feel best. Although you are not accustomed to depending on others, work on getting comfortable with asking for and accepting help when you encounter tasks that are too difficult.

Coping With the Emotional Impact of Changes

  • Continue to do things that you enjoy, even if it takes some extra effort.
  • Engage in social activities with friends and family as much as possible. You need their support, and your need for closeness to others will continue regardless of your stage of illness.
  • Exercise to maintain physical fitness and as an outlet for stress. Consult your physician to develop a safe and healthy exercise plan that meets your needs.
  • Seek support from others to process your anger and frustration, such as a close friend you can talk to, a support group, or counselor.
  • Try to stay focused on the present and capitalize on the abilities that you have intact.
  • If you feel depressed, seek help from a mental health professional. There are several treatment options, including counseling and medication that may be helpful to you during this difficult time.

Last updated August 2008

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Written by Suzette Glasner-Edwards, PhD Reviewed by George T. Grossberg, MD

St. Louis University School of Medicine

Department of Psychiatry

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