Posted on 20 September 2017 by jchcorp.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia caused by a tangling of the brain’s nerve cells and a buildup of certain proteins. 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.
In most cases, Alzheimer’s symptoms manifest slowly through three stages (mild, moderate, and severe) as the disease progresses through the brain, but everyone experiences Alzheimer’s differently.
Mild Alzheimer’s disease
People with early-stage Alzheimer’s often live independent lives, caring for themselves, driving, paying bills, socializing, and working. But, they may experience memory lapses, lose things, forget what they just read or heard, or be unable to recall the right word for a common object. They may have trouble performing tasks or find it increasingly difficult to plan or organize. You may begin to notice these changes as well.
A person diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s is often likely to understand what that means and may react with fear, denial, anxiety, depression, and anger. The people close to them often experience these emotions, too.
Caring for someone with mild Alzheimer’s disease
Your loved one’s condition will worsen over time, and your role as caregiver will deepen. This is a good time to discuss future options for legal, financial, and long-term care arrangements. It’s also smart for you both to take advantage of the many support services and resources that are available to you. Learn as much as you can about Alzheimer’s together. One of the best resources out there for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers is the comprehensive Alzheimer’s Association website. Encourage exercise and brain teasers to keep body and mind in shape. See to a balanced diet and create daily routines.
Determining whether or not your loved one needs help, and how much to give, is a big challenge during early-stage Alzheimer’s. Try to find a balance between dependency and independence. Don’t assume but ask if they need a hand. Enable activities they can safely enjoy with some supervision if necessary. Discuss a plan for avoiding potentially stressful or frustrating situations. Talk about ways they can comfortably ask for help.
Be mindful of your own stress level throughout the journey. Be sure to keep yourself healthy and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your support network.
Moderate Alzheimer’s disease
In middle-stage Alzheimer’s, there will be good days and bad days, but caregiver responsibilities will increase. The individual may find it more and more difficult to perform routine tasks like dressing, expressing themselves verbally, or following a conversation. Structure becomes more important at this stage, and daily routines will have to be adapted according to how the dementia advances. Flexibility and patience are key.
People with moderate Alzheimer’s may exhibit changes in behavior or personality. Angry outbursts, confusion, irritability, sleep disturbance, or wandering are all distressing signs of a declining brain. The person may not always recognize you, and you, too, may wonder who this stranger is. Remember that the disease, not the individual, is causing these changes.
Caring for someone with moderate Alzheimer’s disease
Personal care becomes more and more difficult now, so your assistance may be needed in eating, dressing, and toileting. Try to remember that loss of independence and privacy is one of the most devastating experiences anyone can have. Another particularly distressing milestone is giving up driving.
Communication in moderate Alzheimer’s disease becomes increasingly challenging as the individual starts to lose the ability to find or understand words. In order to help them retain the dignity they deserve, it’s important to handle all these transitions with sensitivity.
Most important, people with moderate Alzheimer’s should not live alone. There are too many safety risks, such as wandering, misusing appliances, and falling, to name just a few. Whether they move in with relatives, go into assisted living, or settle into a long-term care facility like the Memory Care Suite at the Lester Senior Housing Community, it’s imperative to ensure that someone is always watching out for your friend or loved one.
Severe Alzheimer’s disease
People in the final stages of Alzheimer’s need round-the-clock personal care. They usually have trouble eating and eventually become bedridden or chair-bound. They may experience incontinence and be prone to infection. Your focus is now on preserving their dignity and quality of life. You may also have to make difficult decisions on their behalf. Never be afraid to tap into your network for emotional and professional support.
Caring for someone with severe Alzheimer’s disease
Even if your loved one can’t communicate, you can still let them know you care. Read to them, play their favorite music, look through old photos, hold their hand, or just sit outside together. Help them stay nourished and hydrated. If communication is impaired, be aware of any physical signs of pain, distress, or illness.
Immobility can cause issues like rashes, frozen joints, and circulation problems, so keep an eye on his or her fragile skin and body. Clean and moisturize the skin gently. To relieve pressure, you can prop their arms and legs up with pillows (be mindful of bony areas) and change their position at least every two hours to avoid sores or discomfort. Help them do range-of-motion exercises (with the doctor’s approval). Since they’re vulnerable to infection, make sure their teeth, gums, and tongue are clean and tend to cuts or scrapes immediately.
When memory loss starts affecting daily life, it may be time to consider the intimate, resident-focused approach to memory care at the Memory Care Suite at the Lester Senior Housing Facility. For more information about the person-centered care provided by Lester’s specially trained caregivers, contact David Rozen at (973) 929-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on 18 September 2017 by jchcorp.
Dementia is not a disease but rather, a syndrome characterized by a cluster of symptoms that include memory loss, impaired thinking, and changes in behavior that eventually interfere with daily life. Although dementia itself is not a disease, it can be caused by diseases (Alzheimer’s disease being one of the more well-known of them).
Some dementia statistics
Dementia is most widespread among the elderly population, although it can also affect young people because not all dementia is age-related. However, it does show up largely in the older population and the incidence is growing.
- Dementia affects five to six percent of the world’s population aged 60 and above.
- Almost 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 47 million people globally have dementia of some kind today.
- The WHO projects that the number will rise to almost 75 million in 2030 and to a staggering 132 million people by 2050.
Warning signs of dementia
At first, there are mild changes such as some memory loss, confusion or getting lost in familiar places, trouble learning or trouble speaking (getting the words out); some people may exhibit personality changes such as increased irritability or suspicion. A complete medical examination and neurological tests are in order if you suspect a loved one is showing signs of dementia. If indeed that is the diagnosis, you will see a worsening of symptoms over time. Some medications exist that help slow down the symptoms for many people, but there is no cure.
Different kinds of dementia
There are many types of dementia. Some are caused by underlying disease, others by physical or systemic conditions.
Vascular dementia stems from blocked or damaged blood vessels, which leads to a stroke or bleeding in the brain. Vascular dementia accounts for about 10 percent of dementia cases. Symptoms include impaired decision-making, judgment, and organizational ability.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) results from abnormal proteins, called Lewy bodies, which develop in the brain’s frontal cortex. Symptoms may include sleep problems, hallucinations, and imbalanced gait; DLB patients also experience memory loss and confusion.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia (60-80 percent of all dementia cases stem from Alzheimer’s disease). It is caused by protein deposits and nerve cell damage in the brain. Patients have progressive difficulty with cognitive and physical abilities: memory, confusion, communication, judgment, behavior, walking, and swallowing. The disease may be present before symptoms emerge.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) usually occurs earlier in life, around age 60, and causes changes in behavior and personality, and can cause language problems. People with FTD have a shorter life expectancy than those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Mixed dementia occurs when the patient experiences more than one form of dementia.
Diseases and conditions that may lead to dementia
Dementia is not a disease but is often caused by underlying or concomitant diseases. These include:
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Prions, which are proteins that occur normally in the neurons of the central nervous system, are misfolded in the brain. Changes in memory, coordination, and behavior are early symptoms of CJD and progress quickly to dementia, blindness, weakness and coma. CJD progresses rapidly and is always fatal.
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus. A buildup of fluid in the brain leads to loss of memory, mobility, and continence.
- Advanced Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s occurs when the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine (neurotransmitters that affect the brain’s pain and pleasure centers, among other functions) are compromised. The effects look similar to those of Alzheimer’s and DLB.
- Huntington’s disease. This genetic disorder causes protein abnormalities in the brain. Patients display involuntary movements, declining cognitive abilities, and mood changes.
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This condition is due to a severe vitamin B-1 deficiency, which affects the brain’s ability to produce energy from sugar. Alcohol abuse is a leading factor and the primary symptom is extreme memory problems.
Caring for dementia patients
The rising numbers of older adults with a dementia-related diagnosis means an increased need for quality, compassionate care. There are a growing number of options within assisted living communities across the country. In northern New Jersey, there’s the Memory Care Suite at the Lester Senior Housing Community. This intimate, supportive environment provides a very special kind of dementia care according to the nationally recognized Comfort Matters® philosophy. This stresses individualized, “person-centered” care with a focus on always keeping respect and dignity for each resident at the forefront.
To learn more, contact David Rozen at (973) 929-2725 or email@example.com.
Posted on 1 August 2017 by jchcorp.
Memory loss is a fairly common part of the aging process, but it’s not unique to seniors—everyone forgets things from time to time, whether we are unable to recall someone’s name or we forget what we came into the room to look for. Most of the time, this is nothing to be concerned with. In fact, did you know that age-related memory loss can begin as early as in our 20s?
A general decline in cognitive and neural function as we get older is normal because as the brain ages, it produces fewer neurotransmitters and the hippocampus, which aids in the memory process, also begins to deteriorate. These changes in the aging brain are very gradual, so we may not notice we’re having problems with memory or our ability to think until much later in life.
However, aging is not always the cause of impaired memory.
Memory disorder causes
Memory disorders and memory loss can be triggered by high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid problems, substance abuse, medication, concussion or other head injury, stroke, or depression and stress. The good news is that the memory disorder caused by these factors can be remediated and the symptoms managed until memory function is restored.
Avoiding memory disorders
Staying mindful of these particular triggers can help you avoid or ameliorate memory loss that stems from these factors. For instance:
- Getting enough sleep and eating a well-rounded healthful diet—especially as you age—can keep your mind sharp. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that a diet high in vitamin C and antioxidants can stave off age-related memory loss.
- Keeping active both physically and mentally can help slow memory decline.
- If you suffer from a thyroid condition or have blood pressure issues, seek proper treatment.
- Find ways to manage stress or depression.
- Keep tobacco, drug, and alcohol use in check.
However, for age-related memory loss that is not related to the factors noted above, there is currently no cure. That said, if those memory lapses go beyond the occasional misplaced item or forgotten word and interferes with the person’s ability to work, to live independently, or maintain relationships, that memory disorder could be serious and getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is important.
Mild cognitive impairment vs. dementia
When many of us here the term “memory loss” we often think of dementia; and when many people here the term “dementia” they often go right to Alzheimer’s disease.
However, memory loss doesn’t necessarily equal dementia, and nor is dementia synonymous with Alzheimer’s disease (which is just one form of dementia).
When a screening rules out normal, age-related memory problems or underlying health issues, the doctor may diagnose mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a memory disorder associated with impaired memory, language, thinking, and/or judgment. It is not dementia, which, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is “a syndrome that involves impairment in multiple aspects of mental ability, and is sufficiently severe that an individual cannot function independently.”
At the Lester Senior Housing Community, we understand that memory disorders—like the individuals who suffer from them—are all unique. It’s why our new Memory Care Suite provides an individualized approach to resident memory care, based on the Comfort Matters® philosophy of person-centered, holistic dementia care. Our memory care providers focus on each resident’s particular needs and comforts at all times and help foster enriching family and social connections to further enhance each resident’s overall health and well-being.
To learn more about the Memory Care Suite at Lester, contact David Rozen at (973) 929-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.