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Alzheimer's Disease and Confusion

Managing Confusion in People With Alzheimer's Disease

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Updated March 04, 2008

Alzheimer's disease often causes confusion. Your loved one may become confused about person, place, and time. In other words, he may still know who he is, but he may not recognize others; he might also be unable to identify where he is or name the current time, date, or year.

People with Alzheimer's disease also become confused about the purpose of objects, such as keys or pencils. As frustrating as this can be for caregivers, the best way to respond is to stay calm and provide simple, clear, positive answers when your loved one asks for help. For instance, if he seems confused about the purpose of a fork, simply say, "Here's your fork for eating your food." It can also help to demostrate how the item is used. Never scold your relative for becoming confused about things she used to know.

Sources:

Behaviors: What causes dementia-related behavior like aggression, and how to respond. Alzheimer's Association. 2005. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/brochure_behaviors.pdf

Mace, N. L., & Rabins, P. V. (2006). The 36-hour day: A family guide to caring for people with Alzheimer's disease, other dementias, and memory loss in later life (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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