Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide (cont.)

Dressing a Person with Alzheimer's Disease

For someone who has Alzheimer's, getting dressed presents a series of challenges: choosing what to wear, getting some clothes off and other clothes on, and struggling with buttons and zippers. Minimizing the challenges may make a difference.

  • Try to have the person get dressed at the same time each day so he or she will come to expect it as part of the daily routine.
  • Encourage the person to dress himself or herself to whatever degree possible. Plan to allow extra time so there is no pressure or rush.
  • Allow the person to choose from a limited selection of outfits. If he or she has a favorite outfit, consider buying several identical sets.
  • Store some clothes in another room to reduce the number of choices. Keep only one or two outfits in the closet or dresser.
  • Arrange the clothes in the order they are to be put on to help the person move through the process.
  • Hand the person one item at a time or give clear, step-by-step instructions if the person needs prompting.
  • Choose clothing that is comfortable, easy to get on and off, and easy to care for. Elastic waists and Velcro® enclosures minimize struggles with buttons and zippers.

Eating: Getting a Person with Alzheimer's Disease to Eat

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Eating can be a challenge. Some people with Alzheimer's disease want to eat all the time, while others have to be encouraged to maintain a good diet.

  • View mealtimes as opportunities for social interaction and success for the person with Alzheimer's. Try to be patient and avoid rushing, and be sensitive to confusion and anxiety.
  • Aim for a quiet, calm, reassuring mealtime atmosphere by limiting noise and other distractions.
  • Maintain familiar mealtime routines, but adapt to the person's changing needs.
  • Give the person food choices, but limit the number of choices. Try to offer appealing foods that have familiar flavors, varied textures, and different colors.
  • Serve small portions or several small meals throughout the day. Make healthy snacks, finger foods, and shakes available. In the earlier stages of dementia, be aware of the possibility of overeating.
  • Choose dishes and eating tools that promote independence. If the person has trouble using utensils, use a bowl instead of a plate, or offer utensils with large or built-up handles. Use straws or cups with lids to make drinking easier.
  • Encourage the person to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
  • As the disease progresses, be aware of the increased risk of choking because of chewing and swallowing problems.
  • Maintain routine dental checkups and daily oral health care to keep the mouth and teeth healthy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/26/2014

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Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with an Alzheimer's disease patient.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Diagnosis Question: Has a friend or relative been diagnosed with Alzheimer's? Please share your story.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Communicating Question: Please share tips for communicating with a relative or friend who has Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Eating Question: Getting an Alzheimer's patient to eat can be difficult. Please share tips for meal ideas and routines.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Activities Question: In what ways do you help your friend or loved one with Alzheimer's stay active and engaged?
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Sleeping Question: Do you deal with a restless Alzheimer's patient? How do you make sure he/she gets sleep at night?
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Wandering Question: Alzheimer's patients tend to wander. What steps have you taken to ensure his/her safety?
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Nursing Homes Question: At some point an Alzheimer's patient will need assisted or residential care. How did you select one?