In-Home Care - June is Alzheimer's Disease and Brain Awareness Month

Robin Elario, Owner of Assisting Hands Home Care in Brookfield, Wis., talks about Alzheimer's and Dementia
By: Assisting Hands Home Care
 
 
Robin Elario (Stories Framed Photography)
Robin Elario (Stories Framed Photography)
BROOKFIELD, Wis. - June 7, 2019 - PRLog -- June is Alzheimer's Disease and Brain Awareness month. In this post I'm going to talk about Alzheimer's Disease, define what it is, and outline the symptoms and stages to helped loved ones better understand the progression of the disease.

The terms Alzheimer's and dementia are often referred to together, giving the impression that they are one and the same. However, dementia is not a specific disease but rather an overall term that is associated with a decline in memory, cognitive abilities and reasoning. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases according the Alzheimer's Association.  Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking and reasoning skills and eventually the ability to carry out simple tasks. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Disease can be broken down into three progressive stages – mild, moderate and severe. The timing and severity will vary from case to case. The Mayo Clinic outlines the stages and symptoms as follows:

Mild (Early Stage) – Can still function independently, may still drive and attend social activities but starts to have memory lapses. Family and close friends start noticing difficulties.

·         Memory loss of recent events and may repeat the same things over and over.

·         Difficulty with problem solving and judgement. Balancing a checkbook or planning a family event can be overwhelming.

·         Changes in personality can occur and individuals may become uncharacteristically subdued, withdrawn or angry, especially in social situations.

·         Organizing or expressing thoughts and finding the right words become more difficult.

·         Getting lost or misplacing belongings.

Moderate (Middle Stage) – This stage is typically the longest and can last many years.  Symptoms are more pronounced. Individuals get frustrated, anger easily and can act in unexpected ways like refusing to bathe.

·         Increase in poor judgement (like leaving on the stove) and deepening confusion can occur. Cannot recall what day it is or their own address/phone number.

·         Greater memory loss could be experienced, and they may be unable to recall significant details of their personal history. May start to forget family members or mistake a stranger for a family member.

·         May start to display more severe wandering tendencies, possibly in search of more familiar surroundings. Becomes unsafe to be left alone.

·         Significant changes in personality and behavior.  Not uncommon to develop unusual suspicions. For example, believes family members are stealing from them or a spouse is having an affair.

Needs increasing assistance with activities of daily living.  Could start to experience loss of bladder/bowel control.

·         Often grows restless or agitated, especially late in the day (known as sundowning). May exhibit outbursts of aggression and anger.

Severe (Late Stage) – Mental function continues to decline and symptoms become more severe.  The ability to respond to their surroundings is lost.

·         Loses the ability to communicate coherently but may still say some words or phrases.

·         Requires full assistance with dressing, feeding, bathing, using the bathroom.

·         Significant decline in physical abilities. May be unable to walk without assistance, unable to sit or hold head up without support. Eventually may lose ability to swallow. muscles may become rigid and reflexes abnormal. Full loss of control of bladder/bowel may occur.

·         Loses awareness of surroundings.

What Can I Do?

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease and has a significant negative impact on family members and friends. It can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating when trying to understand what is happening with your loved one, but patience is critical.

In the mild stage, when hearing the same stories over and over, it can be tempting to correct your loved one and point out that they are repeating themselves and you have already heard the story. Or, trying to persuade them to participate in social activities or environments when they resist. At this stage they know something is not right and can feel embarrassed and criticized which can lead to anger. Patience from family members/friends is critical.

In the moderate stage, extra attention and careful monitoring will become necessary as the ability to make basic decisions declines and judgement becomes questionable. Safety becomes a great concern. Living at home may no longer be an option unless there is a family member or caregiver that can tend to them 24/7.

In the severe state, maintaining dignity and quality of life are crucial. Research shows, according to the Alzheimer's Association, that even though the ability to communicate is lost, the core of the person's self may still remain. At this point, their world is experienced through senses, so caring words, gentle touch, music and familiar smells can be a great benefit.

I have experienced the cruelty of Alzheimer's Disease first-hand. It is devastating to everyone involved and close to the person. Educating yourself and learning as much as you can, as well as seeking out support from others, will help to better prepare you for the journey ahead.

Assisting Hands Home Care provides caregivers to assist with non-medical activities of daily living (ADL's) in a client's personal residence, senior living community or while staying with a friend or family members, for as little as 3 hours once per week, to seven days a week. A free consultation is always available to help determine if in-home care is good option. For more information about Assisting Hands Home Care, call Robin Elario at 262-212-0114, email at relario@assistinghands.com or visit our website at www.assistinghands.com/menomonee

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Judi Murphy
Murphy Associates | Oak Hill Business Partners
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Tags:Assisting Hands Home Care
Industry:Health
Location:Brookfield - Wisconsin - United States
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