Alzheimer's rehabilitation

The rehabilitation program for persons with Alzheimer's differs depending upon the symptoms, expression, and progression of the disease, and the fact that making a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is so difficult. These variables determine the amount and type of assistance needed for the Alzheimer's individual and family.

With Alzheimer's rehabilitation, it is important to remember that, although any skills lost will not be regained, the caregiving team must keep in mind the following considerations:

- In managing the disease, physical exercise and social activity are important, as are proper nutrition and health maintenance.

- Plan daily activities that help to provide structure, meaning, and accomplishment for the individual.

- As functions are lost, adapt activities and routines to allow the individual to participate as much as possible.

- Keep activities familiar and satisfying.

- Allow the individual to complete as many things by himself or herself as possible. The caregiver may need to initiate an activity, but allow the individual to complete it as much as he or she can.

- Provide "cues" for desired behavior (i.e., label drawers/cabinets/closets according to their contents).

- Keep the individual out of harm's way by removing all safety risks (i.e., car keys, matches).

- As a caregiver (full-time or part-time), it is important to understand your own physical and emotional limitations.