As people are living longer, there has been an increase in the number of those who have been diagnosed with conditions such as Alzheimer’s dementia and other cognitive issues.
This can be extremely challenging for families, especially if you have seen an elderly relative slowly go into cognitive decline. It can also be scary to know what to do or what comes next, but there is a wealth of information and support available, which can help you to make sense of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and will help you be better able to support your loved one.
In this very short guide, you will be introduced to what Alzheimer’s is, how it presents, as well as the treatments, and long-term prognosis.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is sometimes seen as a normal part of the aging process, but this is not true. It is a neurological disorder that, in short, causes brain tissue to become inactive. There are many theories as to why and some involve the build-up of plaques or scars in the brain, as well as trauma that can occur neurologically, like strokes. This disorder impacts memory and thinking skills, and eventually, a person may find it difficult to carry out very straightforward tasks.
The symptoms can be insidious, but unless there has been an issue, such as a stroke, it would be unlikely to see a drastic change in your loved one all at once. If you have concerns about how to care for a loved one that has Alzheimer’s, the best course of action is to search online for memory care near me, to look for the closest support options.
Mental symptoms have been touched on before, and they do include thinking skills and memory recollection, specifically short-term memory. People that have Alzheimer’s may remember things that happened decades ago, but may not remember what happened last week or even yesterday. As the disease progresses, this gap gets wider, and eventually, long-term memories may also be lost. This is particularly distressing if a loved one can no longer remember who you are.
There are also physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which many people are surprised to hear. This is muscle wastage, which often occurs with weight loss. This is because there is an issue in the brain relating to the neurochemicals which assist the stomach in the digestion of food. If there is an issue with these transmitters, it can throw the digestive process off and can reduce the chemicals needed to help build and maintain muscle.
The main treatments targeted at Alzheimer’s are medications, which aim to reduce the symptoms and slow down the progress of the disease, but they cannot cure it.
Some activities can help to support people living with dementia, such as cognitive stimulation therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and reminiscence work. These all can improve the mood and well-being of somebody that has Alzheimer’s. These options are usually undertaken in parallel with each other.
The degree of impairment associated with Alzheimer’s can impact life expectancy, especially if your loved one has vascular dementia, which can be related to hypertension. It is always important to meet with a doctor that specialises in Alzheimer’s to get the best treatments available for the specific type of dementia that your loved one has, to increase their life span and their quality of life quality.