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Bursack: Caregiver offers more Alzheimer's care advice

Dear Readers: In last week's column, retired Minnesota State University Moorhead professor Bob Tolbert shared with us some tips he's learned while caring for his wife, Jane, who has Alzheimer's disease.

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Dear Readers: In last week's column, retired Minnesota State University Moorhead professor Bob Tolbert shared with us some tips he's learned while caring for his wife, Jane, who has Alzheimer's disease.

Bob's wisdom comes from knowledge he has of his wife as she was before the disease, a determination to give her the best care he can and an admirable ability to preserve as much of what was once normal for them, as a couple, as possible. This week, I'm sharing with you the second half of Bob's in-the-trenches.

11. I replaced her dining room chair with one that has five castors, which makes it easier to slide up to the table.

12. I bought bibs that fasten with snaps. Sometimes, if she hesitates, I put a bib on myself. When we go out to eat, I always tuck the napkin under her chin, and I do likewise.

13. I have her registered in the Alzheimer's Safe Return program. She wears the medallion every day. (Available through the Alzheimer's Association).

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14. I have an extra lock on our condo-unit door that she can't reach, and I keep it locked.

15. I dress her in sweatshirts and pull-up slacks with elastic waists. I put on her earrings and brush her hair.

16. She is frequently cold. When we go out, I have her wear a vest under her coat so when we are in a restaurant she can keep the vest on.

17. I give directions one at a time. "Go to the bathroom." "Brush your teeth." "Put on your deodorant."

18. I have her sit on a stool in the tub while I give her a bath with a hand shower.

19. After she was confused by "all those other people," I removed two mirrors and I swing the pantry door, with the full length mirror, open so she can't see the mirror.

20. I installed a child's "gate" on her side of the bed. It doesn't hold her, but it alerts her that she could fall out of bed.

Thanks, Bob, for your tips. I know many people will benefit from your wisdom. You mentioned to me that keeping her interested in a variety of food is a problem. We'll look into that challenge in a future column.

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Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a Web site supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com . She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com .

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