What to Do if You Suspect Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease can present heart-breaking challenges. But if you suspect that your loved one has Alzheimer’s, getting help can be as simple as going with them to their next family physician visit.

Alzheimer’s disease attacks brain cells, destroying one’s memory and ability to carry out everyday tasks, explains Tara O’Rourke, LNHA, MA, administrator at ProMedica Goerlich Center, which specializes in treating patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The disease may come on gradually over years or suddenly over just a few weeks. Symptoms can include:

  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks.
  • Problems communicating.
  • Mood swings, anxiety and other personality changes.

If you notice these changes in a friend or family member, encourage them to see their doctor, who will take a medical history and do tests to determine if their behavior is a sign of Alzheimer’s. A physician can recommend treatment options, including medication and recreation therapy.

If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are simple things you can do to make their lives easier and more comfortable, says O’Rourke. Establish routines for everyday activities, such as meals and recreation. Help them remember to take medications and complete their therapy. Short-term day care, respite care or long-term care may be the best possible option for someone with Alzheimer’s. Work with his or her physician to decide the best solution.