What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Many older adults experience “senior moments”: they have memory lapses, misplace things or forget something they just read or heard. They may forget the right word for a common object, get easily confused or have trouble with everyday tasks.
Aging typically takes a toll on the brain; so do a wide range of other factors, from depression to nutrition to substance abuse. Or it could be Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that occurs when the brain’s nerve cells get tangled and certain proteins build up. The brain damage is irreversible and the patient’s mental and physical functions gradually deteriorate. Eventually, they lose their ability to live independently and will need round-the-clock care, often in specialized memory care environments in assisted living residences.
10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease
Impaired memory doesn’t always mean dementia, and dementia doesn’t always mean Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association set forth the following warning signs that may point to the disease:
- Memory loss affects day-to-day life
- Planning or problem-solving is a challenge
- Familiar tasks are hard to complete
- Time or place are confusing
- Visual images are hard to understand
- Communication is disrupted
- Things are being lost or misplaced
- Judgment is impaired
- Withdrawal from social activities or work
- Changes in mood or personality
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease
Researchers are aggressively looking for ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s early in life, before symptoms emerge. But for now, it’s only after the early signs of dementia appear when doctors can detect the disease.
Alzheimer’s symptoms can be identical to those of stroke, infection, brain tumor, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid problems and other conditions, so the doctor(s) must first identify the underlying cause. Reaching a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is a multi-step process starting with a thorough physical exam and medical history. There will also be a cognitive screening for memory, verbal skills, problem solving, and thinking skills, and a mood assessment. Other diagnostic methods may include an MRI and/or PET scan. Family members may be asked about changes they may have noticed.
Treatment and care for Alzheimer’s patients
Alzheimer’s has no treatment and no cure, but medication can often delay its progress and help moderate some symptoms. Therefore, the sooner a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s—or any other form of dementia-the sooner interventions can begin. That could make all the difference in the patient’s quality of life as he or she progresses through the disease.
If you’re the caregiver of someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, now is the time to talk with them about long-term options down the road. Encourage exercise and brain-teasers to keep body and mind in shape, as memory care and support will become an increasingly important part of your lives.
At the Lester Senior Housing Community, we approach memory care with individualized, person-centered treatment plans that take all aspects of each resident into account—mind, body and soul. Our intimate Memory Care suite, therapeutic activities and trained caregivers are all focused creating a supportive, comforting environment for residents and their loved ones. For more information or to arrange a tour, contact David Rozen at (973) 929-2725 or email@example.com.