what is happening to me?
 Alzheimer's disease causes gradual,
irreversible changes in the brain. These
changes usually cause problems with
memory, decision making and self care.
The disease also affects the ways we
communicate — both in expressing our
thoughts and in understanding what others
are saying. You may be worried or anxious
about the changes you've noticed so far.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's,
treatments might help you with some of
your symptoms. And having information
about the disease can help you cope.
It's important to know that:
 The changes you are experiencing are
because of the disease.
You will have good days and bad days.
The disease affects each person
differently, and symptoms will vary.
Trying different ideas will help you
find comfortable ways to cope.
Some suggestions may work for you,
and others may not.
You are not alone
— more than 5
million Americans have Alzheimer's.
There are people who understand what
you're going through and can help you
and your family.
1. what can i do?
Coping with memory loss
While you may clearly remember things
that happened long ago, recent events can
be quickly forgotten.  You may have trouble
keeping track of time, people and places.
You may forget appointments or people's
names. It might be very frustrating trying
to remember where you put things.
Suggestions for coping with
 Keep a book with you at all times
Important telephone numbers and
addresses, including emergency
numbers and your own contact
People's names and their relationship
A to-do list of appointments.
A map showing where your home is.
Thoughts or ideas you want to hold
Label cupboards and drawers with words
or pictures that describe their contents.
Get an easy-to-read, digital clock that
displays the time and date, and keep it
in a prominent place.
Use an answering machine or voicemail
to keep track of telephone messages.
Post phone numbers in large print next
to the telephone; include emergency
numbers along with your address and a
description of where you live.
Have a dependable friend call to
remind you about meal times,
appointments and medication.
Keep a set of photos of people you see
regularly; label the photos with names
and who each person is in relation
Keep track of the date by marking off
each day on a calendar.
Use pillboxes to help you organize
your medication; pillboxes with sections
for times of day — like morning and
evening — can help remind you when
you should take your pills.
 Finding your way
Sometimes, things that were once familiar
may now seem unfamiliar. A favorite place
may not look the same. Or you might even
Suggestions for finding your way:
Take someone with you when
you go out.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Explain to others that you have a
memory problem and need assistance.
Enroll in MedicAlert + Alzheimer's
Association Safe Return , a 24-hour
nationwide emergency response
identification and support program that
will reunite you with your family should
you ever wander.
Sign up for Alzheimer's Association
Comfort Zone — a Web-based location
management service that ensures you and
your family are always connected.
 Doing daily tasks
You may find familiar activities more
For example, you may have
trouble balancing a checkbook, following a
recipe or doing simple household repairs.
Suggestions for doing daily tasks:
Give yourself a lot of time, and don't
let others hurry you.
Take a break if something is too difficult.
Ask for help if you need it.
Arrange for others to help you with
Maintain a daily routine.
Over time, certain things may become too
difficult for you to do at all. This is because
of the disease. Do the best you can, and
accept help when it's available.
 Talking to others
You may have difficulty understanding
what others are saying. You may have
trouble finding the right words to express
Suggestions for talking to others:
Take your time.
Tell people you have difficulty
with thinking, communicating and
Consider with whom you will share
your diagnosis — it's helpful for others
to understand your condition.
Ask the person to repeat a statement if
you did not understand what was said.
Find a quiet place to converse if loud
noises or crowds are bothering you.
2. is what i'm feeling
 Living with the changes caused by
Alzheimer's disease can bring about many
unfamiliar emotions. These feelings are
a natural response to the disease. It is
important to share these reactions with
others. Tell someone with whom you are
comfortable how you feel.
The Alzheimer's Association can refer you
to a support group where you can meet
others who are living with Alzheimer's. You
can also connect with people who relate to
your experiences through ALZConnected
(alzconnected.org), an online social
networking community powered by the
You may find yourself saying:
“I worry more than usual.”
It's important to talk to your family and
friends about your concerns. You may worry
about what's going to happen to you in the
future. Or you may wonder how quickly
the disease will progress.
While there are no definite answers to
these questions, most people find that doing
something they enjoy — like walking or
gardening — helps them take their mind
off their worries.
“I sometimes think I'm
 The disease can make you feel as if you
are losing control. Telling those around
you how you feel may give you comfort.
Sharing your feelings with others who are
living with Alzheimer's may also help.
“I sometimes get into a
It's normal to experience mood changes.
On these days, it is important to remember
that tomorrow could be a better day. Try to
do things that will lift your spirits.
“Sometimes I feel angry.”
Feeling angry is natural. Sometimes being
part of a support group or talking to a
counselor who knows about Alzheimer's
can help. Your doctor or the Alzheimer's
Association can refer you.
It’s normal to go through a range of
emotions. You’re facing many challenges
and adjustments. It's important to find
ways to cope with these feelings.
“I sometimes feel sad.”
You may feel sadness when faced with the
changes that the disease brings to your life.
It may help to spend time with friends or
family, or to do something you enjoy. You
might also consider consulting your doctor
about medications that may help ease
feelings of sadness.
“When things go wrong, I feel
 Getting lost, forgetting a once-familiar face
or not being able to find the right word
can feel embarrassing. But this is a part
of the disease. Explain to people that you
have memory problems to help ease any
awkward feelings. Keeping a sense of humor,
whenever possible, can also be very helpful.
why you are feeling this way. See if there
is anything that you, or those around you,
can do to make things easier.
“Sometimes I feel very lonely.”
You may think that the people around
you do not understand what you're going
through. It can be comforting to talk to
others who are living with Alzheimer's
disease. The Alzheimer's Association can
refer you to a support group. You can
also connect with others online through
“I feel guilty asking for help.”
Few of us like to ask for help. We often
resist relying on others.  Over time, you
will find it necessary to ask for help more
often. Try to accept the assistance you
need. Chances are that others will be
pleased to provide it.
how else can i take
care of myself?
Two of the most important ways to maintain
your well-being are to stay healthy and safe.
Take good care of your body.
Suggestions for your health:
Rest when you are tired.
Exercise regularly, with your doctor's
Cut down on alcohol — it can make
your symptoms worse.
Take your medications as prescribed, and
ask for help if it is difficult to remember
when they should be taken.
Reduce stress in your daily life.
Memory problems, difficulties with decision
making, and communication changes can all
create new safety concerns.
Suggestions for your safety:
Consider a companion
The person you live with may worry
about leaving you alone for long
periods of time. While you may feel you
will be fine alone, having a companion
can help the time pass more pleasantly.
It can also lessen worry for those close
Stop driving when it's no longer safe
Memory loss can hinder your ability
to drive safely. You may also become
less able to make decisions and react
quickly. While it is not easy to give
up your license, at some point it will
no longer be safe for you to drive.
Look into other ways to get around,
like friends, family, taxi cabs or public
Just as people can wander while
walking, they can also become lost
when driving or taking a bus, train or
airplane. Some wander hundreds of
miles away from home.
Visit alz.org/safety for information,
tips, and resources to assist you with
safety inside and outside of the home,
wandering and getting lost, and driving
Be mindful of electrical appliances
Leave written reminders to yourself
like, “turn off the stove” or “unplug the
iron.” Be sure you have an automatic
shut-off feature on the appliances you
use most often — especially the ones
that can cause harm if left unattended.
Use smoke detectors
Make sure your home has working
smoke detectors, which could save your
life in a fire. Put a reminder in your
calendar to change the batteries.
Be careful of people you don't recognize
If someone you don't recognize comes
to your door, don't let them in. Instead,
write down the person's name and
telephone number. Later, you or a
family member can call the person.
what if i live on my own?
Many people with Alzheimer's continue to
live successfully on their own during the
early stages of the disease. Making simple
adjustments, taking safety precautions and
having the support of others can make
Suggestions for living on your own:
Get advice from the Alzheimer's
Association or your doctor about
where to get help for things like
housekeeping, meals and transportation.
Inform your bank if you have difficulty
with record-keeping and keeping track of
your accounts; they may provide special
services for people with Alzheimer's.
Arrange for direct deposit of checks,
such as your retirement pension or
Social Security benefits.
Plan for home-delivered meals, if
available in your community.
Have a family member regularly sort
your closet and dresser drawers to
make it easier for you to get dressed.
Leave a set of house keys with a
neighbor you trust.
Schedule family, friends or a community
service to make a daily call or visit; keep
a list of things to discuss.
At some point, living alone will become
too difficult or dangerous. Make plans
now for where you will live as the disease
progresses. You may want to get a helpful
roommate, live with relatives or move to a
residential care setting.
what about the future?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive illness,
and the symptoms you're experiencing will
gradually worsen. You will need more help.
There is no way to predict how or when
this will happen. It's a good idea for you to
make decisions about your future as early in
the course of the disease as possible.
Suggestions for future plans:
Make arrangements at work
Talk to your employer about
Alzheimer's. Take someone with you to
help explain and clarify your symptoms
and particular situation.
Cut down on your hours or
responsibilities, if possible.
If you own your own business, put
plans in place for its future operations.
Consider future living arrangements
Talk to your family or friends about
where you want to live, and with
whom, to prepare for the time when
you will need more care.
Consider all of the options available,
including adult day programs, in-home
care and hospice services.
Settle your money and legal matters
Consider naming a person to make
health care decisions for you when you
are unable to do so. This person should
know your wishes about your health care
and future living arrangements.
Make sure your money matters are in
the hands of someone you trust, like
your spouse or domestic partner, your
child or a close friend.
See a lawyer about naming a person to
legally take care of your money matters
when you can no longer do it.
Take someone with you to the lawyer to
help explain your situation and to help
interpret what the lawyer says.
Find out about any available options for
long-term care insurance.
Planning ahead ensures that your future will be
in good hands. It also helps those close to you
make the right decisions for you in the future.
Map out your plan to approach Alzheimer’s
The new Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s
Navigator™ (alzheimersnavigator.org) online
assessment program can help you create a
customized action plan to proactively face
Implementing your action plan is easy
with help from local resources located
one click away via the Alzheimer’s
Association Community Resource Finder