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Tips for Alzheimer Patient Caregivers & Visiting an Alzheimer Patient

By HERWriter
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Alzheimer's Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

Caregiving for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is extremely difficult. The AD patient may not always remember the caregiver.

One incredible free resource and book for caregivers is called “Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.” http://www.alzheimersplaybook.com/downloads/category/1-alzheimers-playbook.html

The book is written by retired football coach and former University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles. Broyles wrote the book with the assistance of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

The book was inspired by Broyles' own personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Broyles, “When my wife, Barbara, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I didn’t know much about the disease or the impact it would have on our lives; much of what I learned was trial and error.”

Broyles continued, “Early on I promised myself that one day my family would share with other families dealing with Alzheimer’s all that we had learned, from our research and experiences.”

The free 110-page book offers a plethora of tips for AD caregivers. Some of the tips include: finding the right doctor, putting together your special team, legal issues, home safety and communications tips.

The book has a sports theme and is written from the view-point of a loving caregiver.

Also, the book discusses the three stages of AD. Valuable and vital caregiving information is provided for each stage of AD.

The book is available in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Danish and Hindi.

There is also a 17-page pocket reference guide with easy and quick tips. For example, it discusses why an AD patient may be pacing. An AD patient generally paces back and forth or rocks because they are unsure of their location and they are extremely frightened. To counter their behavior, a caregiver can try the following:
• Tell the AD patient they are loved and safe
• Try to distract the AD patient with an activity. View a magazine or put together a puzzle with the patient
• Hold his or her hand
• Walk with the AD patient
• Keep the walking path clear to avoid a fall or collision with household items
• Offer the AD patient a snack to carry while he or she paces or walks

Also, the U.S. National Institute of Health offered these tips when visiting a patient with AD. Patients with AD may not recognize their visitors but visits to an AD patient are important to their overall health.
• Visit the AD patient when they are having a good day. If possible, call in advance to check their mental health.
• Understanding and patience is key when visiting an AD patient.
• If the AD patient doesn’t recognize you, remind the AD patient of your relationship and your name.
• Try not to get too close to the AD patient's personal space.
• Call the patient by his or her name and make eye contact.
• Bring photos, book or other activities in which the AD patient can participate.
• Always speak softly and calmly to AD patients. Loud noises may frighten the AD patient.
• If the patient is confused, make him or her feel safe and respond gently to his or her feelings. You can also try to change the subject to a happy topic.
• Also, if the AD patient doesn’t recognize you, don’t take it personally and act angry or bitter.


Reviewed July 13, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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