What is Alzheimer’s Disease? How it Affects Those Who Have it and Their Loved Ones

Alzheimer

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain condition that slowly erases memory function and cognitive thinking. The disorder is more than age-related forgetfulness. Alzheimer’s usually progresses to the point where it is impossible to complete daily tasks, participate in conversations, and even respond to the environment.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the leading cause of dementia in older people affecting over 5 million people nationwide. Symptoms may begin after age 60 and worsen progressively. The main risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age. The number of people suffering from the disease doubles every five years after the age of 65. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressively debilitating disease, robbing patients of their memories and personality and families of time with the ones they love.

Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Discovering Alzheimer’s may seem difficult when early symptoms occur when most people begin experiencing normal forgetfulness related to age. However, Alzheimer’s disease is marked by specific symptoms that are not associated with normal aging. The following symptoms often occur along with memory loss.

  • The difficulty with money responsibilities and keeping up with bills is a red flag, especially when the person is accustomed to this task.
  • Excessive memory loss may be experienced; including getting lost in a familiar space, or repeating questions.
  • Sudden episodes of poor judgment may be observed. Extravagant spending may be involved in these decisions.
  • Personality and behavioral changes sometimes occur. Feelings of confusion and suspicion are common.
  • Difficulty finding the right words during conversation may be experienced.

Normal aging symptoms are milder, including occasional temporary forgetfulness, misplaced items, and minor confusion about new things. These symptoms alone do not determine a diagnosis however they should be discussed with a doctor.

Helpful Home Care Tips

Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a difficult time for family and loved ones. After taking the time to understand the diagnosis and learning about the condition, it is a good idea to learn new ways of helping your loved one stay comfortable. The middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease (moderate Alzheimer’s) may last for several years. As the disease progresses, increased care is needed. These tips can be helpful for caregivers struggling with new symptoms. For more information about advancing Alzheimer’s symptoms and patient care tips, visit the Seasons Memory Care resource blog.

Practice Patience and Understanding

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s can be depressing and often stressful for caregivers. Try to remember how this new world feels for your loved one. Trying to remind your dad that he already knew about an appointment won’t help him understand where he’s going and will only serve to frustrate you both. Instead, answer every repeated question like a new question. The memories of an Alzheimer’s patient are too precious to be wasted on unimportant details.

Build Extra Time into Their Schedule

Daily tasks often become difficult for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. Simple chores like taking a shower or getting dressed suddenly seem like multitasking. This can lead to added stress for everyone. When helping your mother prepare for a day out, help her begin getting ready earlier to keep things on schedule. Speed up meals by preparing them early, so cooking time is reduced to a reheat.

Create Pre-planned Calming Methods

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are frightening and distressing. It is not uncommon for sufferers to get upset easily. Try a distraction technique by talking about something you know brings happiness. Relaxation techniques are useful because they force your loved one to pay attention to something other than what is distressing them.

Reduce Distractions

Busy loud conditions can be distressing and stressful for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Reduce background noise at home by muting the television or turning it off to increase concentration. Avoid crowded places with careful timing. Visiting restaurants and stores at low-level hours makes them more enjoyable.

Allow Your Loved One to Help

It can be depressing to realize you can no longer do the things you love. Help your loved one enjoy the experiences they liked in the past by eliminating dangers. For example, if your mother loves baking, you can measure portions and take charge of the stove.

Limit Choices

Variety can be difficult. Narrow down the confusion by eliminating some choices. For example, your dad can still get dressed, but choosing a shirt from a crowded closet might be a challenge. Give him a couple to choose from. Similarly, choosing dinner in a restaurant might feel like being put in the spotlight. Pick out two favorite foods and let him choose what to eat.

Stressful Conditions for Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be so consuming that you might forget self-care. It is important not to isolate yourself while caring for your loved one. Support groups, whether online or local, can help you connect with others who understand your situation. Taking time away from the situation to decompress is a healthy stress reliever. You can only care for others when you are healthy to take care of yourself.

As the condition advances, it is important to remember that you may not be capable of providing the best care for your family member. It is a painful decision to seek other arrangements for your loved ones. However, it may be the healthiest decision. Professional caregivers have the training and ability to care for patients suffering from the most advanced stages of the disease. Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, keeping your loved one comfortable is the most important gift you can give.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult undertaking. Often, symptoms reach a point where care is no longer possible at home. Searching for a long-term care home can be stressful and confusing. You do not have to go through this troublesome time alone.

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