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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Alzheimer disease (AD) is a brain disorder that causes memory loss over time. Parts of the brain die and cannot make normal levels of brain chemicals. This causes problems with how you think, behave, and remember things. The disease usually starts at about age 65 to 70 years but can start earlier. The exact cause of AD is not known.
Call your doctor or neurologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You have a rash or your skin is itchy and swollen.
- You are depressed and have difficulty coping with your symptoms.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to help you think better or to slow the death of brain cells. You may also need medicines to help you feel less depressed, anxious, angry, or restless. These medicines can also help you sleep better. Medicines can also help with bladder and bowel control or to control delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask about counseling (talk therapy) that may be available:
Counseling can help you find ways to cope with AD. You may work only with a counselor, or also with family members or others with AD. Counseling may help you talk about your feelings. You may learn ways to control your actions and emotions. Stimulation therapy can help keep your mind active. Counselors may use music, art, or animals in this type of therapy.
You may have a family member or friend who can help you with daily tasks. Your healthcare provider can give you information on how to find someone if needed. The person can help set up alarms or timers to remind you to eat, take medicines, and use the bathroom. He or she may be able to help you prepare meals, bathe, and get to appointments. The kind of help you need will change over time. The following can help you manage AD:
- Place clocks and calendars where you can see them. This will help you remember appointments and tasks.
- Keep activities the same from day to day. Take breaks often. Save difficult activities for when you are the most alert. Choose activities you are interested in doing.
- Keep mealtimes at the same time each day. Your healthcare providers can help you create a meal plan.
- Create a bathroom schedule. An example is going every 4 hours.
- Limit the amount of liquid you drink in the evening. This may help you sleep through the night. Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
- Keep your mind and body active. Call or visit people often. This will keep your social skills sharp, and may help reduce depression. Do activities that you love, such as art, gardening, or listening to music. Regular physical activity, such as exercise, may help if you feel depressed or anxious. Exercise can also help you sleep better.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Ask someone to go with you to help you remember what your healthcare provider tells you. The person can take notes for you during the visit and go over the notes with you later. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
For more information:
- Alzheimer's Association
225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17
Chicago , IL 60601-7633
Phone: 1- 800 - 272-3900
Web Address: http://www.alz.org
- Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center
P.O. Box 8250
Silver Spring , MD 20907
31 Center Drive, MSC 2292
Bethesda , MD 20892
Phone: 1- 800 - 438-4380
Web Address: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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