11 Common medical Alzheimer’s disease problems and solutions

alzheimer disease problems

People with Alzheimer’s disease may also experience other medical problems that are either directly related to dementia or are worsened by it. Here are a few examples of those problems and what caregivers can do about them.



  1. Fever. Defined as a temperature of 2 degrees higher than the person’s normal temperature, it may be a sign of germ-caused infection, dehydration, heat stroke, or constipation.

Use a digital thermometer to take the person’s temperature rather than a glass one which the person might bite. Call a doctor immediately if the person with Alzheimer’s disease has fever.

  1. Flu and pneumonia. Alzheimer patients are more prone to getting these diseases. Symptoms include fever, chills, aches and pains, vomiting, coughing, and breathing difficulties.


See that the patient gets a flu vaccine every year and a pneumonia vaccine after they turn 65. Most elderly people need only one pneumonia shot.

  1. Falls. Difficulty walking, loss of balance, and changes in depth perception are among the factors that put a person with Alzheimer’s disease at risk of falling.

Clean up clutter, remove throw rugs, use chairs with arms, install grab bars in the bathroom, use good lighting, have the person wear sturdy footwear with good traction.


  1. Dehydration. Symptoms include dry mouth, dizziness, hallucinations, and rapid heartbeat.

Keep track of how much liquid the patient drinks, especially in hot weather or in homes without A/C. Watch out for sings during wintertime as well when heating can create a lot of dry air in the house.


  1. Constipation. Dietary changes, certain medications, lack of exercise and insufficient liquids can cause bowel movement problems.

Make sure the patient eats fiber-rich foods such as dried apricots, raisins, or prunes; dry cereals; soybeans; exercises moderately every day; and drinks plenty of fluid, including prune juice, gelatin, soup, melted ice cream, decaffeinated coffee and tea, and liquid cereal.

  1. Diarrhea. Alzheimer’s disease medications like Aricept, Razadyne, and Exelon may cause diarrhea. Other medical conditions can also cause this problem.

Notify the doctor that the patient has diarrhea. See that the person drinks plenty of liquid when they have diarrhea.










  1. Incontinence. Symptoms include leaking urine, problems emptying the bladder, and soiled underwear and bed sheets.

Inform the doctor, who might be able to address the root of the problem, especially if it’s caused by urinary tract infection, enlarged prostate gland, dehydration, diabetes, too many water pills, too much caffeine, or taking diuretics. Additionally, the caregiver can deal with incontinence by reminding the person to go to the bathroom every 2-3 hours, showing the person the way to the bathroom or taking them to it, making sure the person wears loose and comfortable clothing that can be removed easily, limiting fluids after 6 in the evening – especially caffeine –, giving the person fresh fruit before going to bed if they are thirsty, marking the bathroom door with a sign reading ‘Toilet’ or ‘Bathroom,’ using a stable and colorful toilet seat that is at good height (also consider raised toilet seats), keeping a record of how much liquid and food the person consumes and how often they go to the bathroom, and helping the person when they need to use a public restroom – even entering the stall if necessary. Adult disposable briefs or underwear, bed protectors, and waterproof mattress covers, and a drainable pouch are all items that can also be helpful.

  1. Dental problems including sores, decayed teeth, ‘pocketing’ food in the cheek or on the roof of the mouth, and lumps.


Take the person for regular dental examinations.

  1. Pain. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to express that they are in pain.

Watch the person’s facial expressions and body language. Take note of sudden behavior changes as well. Call a doctor whenever in doubt.





  1. Doctor’s appointments.

Schedule appointments at the times of the day when the patient is at their best.

Inform the staff that the patient has Alzheimer and ask for their help.

Bring food or a drink the person likes or materials and activities that they enjoy.

Ask a friend or relative to go with you for additional assistance.

Briefly summarize the person’s medical history, primary care doctor, and current medications.






  1. Trips to the ER.

Make a list of medicines, insurance cards, the health care provider's name and phone number, and advance directives.

Ask a friend or relative to come.

Be prepared to explain the symptoms and events immediately preceding the ER visit several times to different people.

Inform the ER staff that the person has Alzheimer’s disease and explain how to best communicate with them.

Stay with the person or have a friend or relative stay with them if the person has to stay in the hospital overnight.