Alzheimers Tips

When it comes to Alzheimers, we've been there, done that, now serving 23 tips in 6 categories ranging from Caregivers and Coping to Life Modifications.

Coconut Oil: Does It Really Slow the Progression of Alzeimers?

Coconut Oil and Alzheimer's Disease

There have been many individual reports about the positive effectiveness when coconut oil is taken internally by Alzheimer's patients. Dr. Mary Newport, a pediatrician, has written extensively about the role that ketones can play in slowing down the effects of this disease. Her husband has Alzheimer's.

Ketones normally occur within the human body as a by product when the fats are broken down. Dr Newport suggests that by boosting their levels, some neurological disorders may benefit. Coconut oil is a fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). After this type of fat is changed into ketones within the liver, it is able to deliver energy to the brain. The belief for some is that it can restore the energy lost by the inability for the human body to make insulin that once guided the glucose into human cells. This causes the brain and other organs to regain the nourishment that has previously been lost.

According to Elizabeth Edgerly, Ph.D for the Alzheimer's Association of the North Carolina and Northern Nevada Chapter, it is best to discuss this issue with the doctor before giving coconut oil to any Alzheimer's patient. She suggests that, as with anything, this should be done to make sure that there is no harm in trying out this new digestible diet. Dr. Edgerly further says that the difficulty is that there have not been any large studies done. Without these studies, verification cannot be made. There is no actual data suggesting that coconut oil can improve the current physical and mental effects of patients with Alzheimer's disease or any other neurological problems.

What can I do to reduce anxiety in my mother who has Alzheimer's Disease?

Reducing Anxiety In Alzheimer's Patients

If you are the caregiver for a loved one who has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, you understand how difficult it is to keep your loved one safe. One of the ways to keep your loved one is safe is to reduce their level of anxiety in their own home.

Alzheimer’s symptoms vary from person to person. But due to the nature of the disease, specifically the deterioration of the brain itself, different areas of the brain are affected. If your loved one is experiencing increased anxiety, try some of these tips to lessen the effects.


1. Offer simple instructions or directions. Complex instructions such as put on your clothes, brush your teeth and hair and come down to breakfast, can cause someone with Alzheimer’s to become anxious due to having to remember all of those instructions. In processing these instructions, steps are missed and your mom or dad could come downstairs wearing just their shirt with clean teeth and freshly combed hair. Their brains are unable to process several instructions strung together as one. Giving instruction for each step will help reduce that anxiety.

2. Offer clothing that is simple to manage. Shirts with too many buttons can cause your loved one to become frustrated and agitated because of their inability to use their hands to perform the desired tasks. Keep clothing items simple with plain patterns. Slip-on shoes provide an alternative to having to tie shoelaces, as this requires several steps to complete.

3. Reduce visual stimuli in their home environment. Alzheimer’s patients sometimes have difficulty with paintings and artwork that require interpretation. They look at it and try to comprehend what they see but are unable to because of the complexity of the piece. Consider landscapes and simple artwork to reduce the need for comprehension. Wall coverings, curtains and rugs should be simple, solid colors to reduce the visual stimuli. Eliminate large wall mirrors as well, as Alzheimer’s patients have been known to think they are much younger than they really are. When they see this “stranger” in the mirror, anxiety can set in.

4. Ensure your loved one is eating a balanced diet full of whole foods and plenty of fluids. A common cause of disorientation among elderly women comes from the onset of a urinary tract infection. This is true for anyone regardless of having been diagnosed with Alzheimer. By drinking plenty of clear fluids, your loved one will be well hydrated, preventing them from urinary tract infections.

5. Take your loved one for a walk or some form of exercise. Exercising or doing some physical activity has been shown to relieve stress for anyone. Routine exposure to sunlight and fresh air could help to reduce some anxiety that may result of being in the home for too long.

The next time you see your loved one with Alzheimer’s suffering from anxiety, try implementing some of these tips. Talk to your doctor to see what is appropriate, and to ensure that the anxiety does not have some other underlying cause.


The Long Alzheimer's Good-Bye

Alzheimer's has been called the "long goodbye," and "fading into the sunset." While these phrases definitely ring true, they do not necessarily reflect some of the practicalities that will emerge.

Many other deaths are sudden, quick or dramatic enough that intervention and care is at the hospital or handled mostly by health care staff. Alzheimer's is not this way, we as caregivers have lots of time to prepare and muddle over the last days.

As is typical, however, most Alzhiemer's resources only give brief mention to the topic of end-of-life. Certainly it's necessary to do what we can to maintain function and living, but it's to our detriment not to prepare for the eventuality.

Here are some links that talk about the details of caring for end-of-life: including things like how to handle constipation, diarhhea, pain, etc.

American Academy for Hospice Care

American Family Physicians

Merck Manual for Health and Aging


Alzheimer's The Need to Run Away

You'll probably read about wandering and Alzheimer's. What I would like to talk about here, however, is you running away. One day, every day, or at some point you will feel like you want to run away from this situation. Alzheimer's isn't like a cold that gets better, a tumor that gets cut out, or even a migraine. It's constant, invisibile, and tenacious. It's natural to want to run from it all. When these feelings emerge, be selfish, enlist friends and family to give you a break. The burden isn't all supposed to fall just on you. It just feels that way. Do what you need to do to get a break, whether it's a few hours, a day, or a week -- do run away; so that you can come back.


Northwester Offers Great Alzheimer's Tips

Some of the most practical info I've ever read:

Structure the environment

  • Perhaps the most useful factor in preserving orientation is creating a home environment that is simple, orderly, and predictable, yet also allows freedom of movement. The more variability in the patient's surroundings, the more likely it is that he or she will become confused and disoriented.

  • One room, or a portion of a room, can be modified to fit the needs of the patient as an "orientation area." This helps create simplicity and order in the home environment. This orientation area should be centrally located and easily accessible.

  • Items essential to the patient for daily living activities, such as eyeglasses, keys, and writing accessories, might be placed in this area. Thus, the orientation area can serve as a focal location in which the patient can find orientation clues, specific information, and items needed in the course of a day.

  • A clock (perhaps digital), a calendar, and a bulletin board or slate will provide a means for keeping track of the time and important messages.

  • A daily schedule of activities for the patient and family members should be posted to assist the patient in remembering what appointments or activities are scheduled and where family members are at all times.

  • Labeled pictures of family members, close friends, or pets will help the patient associate names with faces (such as, brother John); our cat (Sigmund).

  • Structure can be imposed on the remaining portions of the house by labeling drawers, closets, or rooms.

  • Avoid changing the arrangement of furniture, color schemes, or anything else that will reduce familiarity of the surroundings.

  • Make sure that frequently used areas such as the bathroom and hallways are well lit at night.

  • Keep the bedroom located as close to the bathroom as possible and have conspicuous cues directing the patient to the bathroom.


Celebrate the Parts that Still Work: Alzheimer's Bit By Bit

My father used to be able to quote P/E ratios of stocks in his portfolio. Now he's more likely to blow up an egg in the microwave. Slowly he's lost many mental abilities, much like turning off circuit breakers one at a time; you can see each room growing dim as a circuit closes down.

Then again, he'll still make the same jokes, tell the same stories and likes the same things as he did before. Try to expect less, enjoy the parts that still work.

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Kristle Jones