Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease, meaning it gets worse and not particularly better over time. It affects the area of the brain that is involved in language, judgment, and behavior. This is the most common form of brain malfunctions or mental decline in older adults. Causing severe or mild memory loss, the adult may experience mood swings, personality changes, and the ability to think clearly, or even carry out normal daily routines without difficulty. The person’s brain is not so mixed up that the person does not realize that there is a problem, but in most cases it is the family member who first notices changes. Still unclear why these changes occur, doctors have developed treatments to assist with the symptoms of the disease.
Symptoms include memory loss, confusion of time and day, frequently getting lost in familiar places, or trouble with learning and processing new information. The person may have a hard time expressing himself and may act out of frustration. Development of seemingly strange or odd behaviors may occur, like withdrawing from family or paranoid episodes. If you have begun to notice similar odd behavior in an older relative or friend, you should consider Alzheimer’s as a very real possibility, though you should not panic or blow out of proportion. If it turns out that your worst expectations were true, then you will definitely be able to get the support and help that you need.
Forgetting how to perform basic tasks like washing clothes or bathing oneself will become increasingly common. It has been noted that some people with the disease in very late stages will forget how to walk and talk. As serious as this disease is, there is still no cure but quality of life can be maintained with the help of others. Keeping the person active by working on tasks that are easily completed and providing a safe environment under careful eye is the best way to ensure that they can still enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Treatments only include improving memory, dealing with behaviors that may develop and depressive medications. Older people with this disease are aware of what may be happening to them and can become saddened at their inability to perform basic tasks. Alzheimer’s is becoming an increasing problem with a rising rate of occurrence, because people are living longer and physically healthier lives.
Because caring for a person with this disease is both financially and emotionally draining, it is important that the caregiver seek as much assistance as is available. In the early stages of the disease decisions about making your home safe for the person, tailoring tasks for the person, an assisting the person will be of great importance. Monitoring behavior and constant checking of appliances used may be necessary. The person should begin planning for the future by handling all financial and final affairs while they still are able to think clearly and still make some decisions. Once driving privileges are revoked the person may need additional attention with dealing with immobility or simply grocery store runs and the like. Later stages will mainly be with behavior problems and tasking problems for the individual. This is draining on the care giver as it will require more time and emotional input. Thus, the caregiver must remember to care for themselves and seek as much support as possible. The main thing is to not give up hope and make the person quality of life good while maintaining your own health. Hang in there and try not to shoulder all of the responsibility by yourself. Enlist the help of family, friends, and those who may know the individual. All involved will need to lean on one another.
For more information and support related to Alzheimer’s disease, you should ask your doctor for information on any local support groups for people who have relatives afflicted with the disease. It is a great way to get rid of some of the stress that will surely accumulate.