How to treat a family member with Alzheimer’s? In 7 tips
Life expectancy has indeed increased enormously in the last century. This has also caused certain diseases linked to age to do so. Among the best-known conditions that affect the elderly population is Alzheimer’s disease.
The figures for Alzheimer’s and dementia are really high. Currently, 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, a figure equivalent to that of the Spanish population. Each year, there are about 10 million new cases recorded. Madness is a condition that affects 5 to 8 of grown-ups in the general population who are 60 or aged at some point during their elderly times.
Alzheimer’s disease is the root cause of one in seven dementia cases.
Many people will have to care for family members or close friends who have dementia at some point in their lives. This article will give some advice from experts to assist those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a brain complaint that gradationally robs a case of his memory and logic capacities until he’s unfit to perform any tasks.
Alzheimer’s typically appears in people over 65 and is associated with advancing age. The older population suffers from dementia most frequently from this cause.
Dementia is the loss of cognitive ability (thinking, remembering, and reasoning) and other behavioral skills to affect a person’s life and daily activities. Dementia can range in intensity from modest functional impairment to total need on others for everyday activities.
Alois Alzheimer was the first to observe Alzheimer’s disease in 1906; he observed significant morphological changes in the brain of a woman who had died of a rare and hitherto unknown mental illness. The patient’s symptoms included memory loss, language difficulties, and unpredictable behavior.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer studied the woman’s brain after her death and found that it contained two significant changes: amyloid plaques, large abnormal clumps, and neurofibrillary tangles, which are bundles of tangled fibers. Along with tau plaques and tangles, loss of neural connections (messages are transmitted between neurons, connecting different parts of the brain and body and organs) was also observed in the brain.
Today, Alzheimer’s has no cure, and science continues to study the different brain disorders derived from Alzheimer’s disease. Long before Alzheimer’s disease symptoms are noticeable, changes in the brain have already started. During this early stage of the disease, the brain undergoes complicated changes: abnormal accumulations of proteins form tau tangles and amyloid plaques; Furthermore, healthy neurons lose function and connections and eventually die.
Alzheimer’s affects the brain in many complex ways. The disease begins to damage the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex (parts of the brain necessary for memory formation), and as the disease progresses, more neurons die, causing other parts of the brain to shrink. In the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, the damage is widespread, and brain tissue has significantly decreased in size.
Alzheimer’s usually mainly affects memory capacity in its early stages. People are not able to remember recent events or conversations. Sometimes people who experience more memory problems than usual for their age have MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment), a condition where the symptoms are not enough to affect your daily life. People experience different changes early on with Alzheimer’s disease, not just memory problems; some have issues with language, visual processing, spatial understanding, or their ability to make decisions, which may be early signs of the disease.
How to help someone with Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that gets worse over time. From the first symptoms of dementia, where slight memory losses and difficulty are remembering recent moments, to the loss of cognitive abilities.
Alzheimer’s cases in the after stages of the illness are unfit to communicate and carry out simple diurnal tasks like tying their shoes.
Due to the dependency caused by the symptoms, the role of the environment is essential for the well-being of people with Alzheimer’s. Let’s see how we can help a relative or close person who lives with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Establishing positive routines
Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms can be very frustrating for the patient, who sees how little by little he loses faculties and becomes dependent. To limit frustrations and help a person with dementia to remain calm, it is essential to leave them and do everyday things and tasks but make it easier for them to carry them out. Sometimes when the going gets tough, a person with dementia can get angry, so limiting challenges and establishing routines can help.
Determining which chores to complete based on energy may be a brilliant idea. Some things are easier to do when the person is more rested and attentive during the morning, such as baths or doctor’s appointments. Although routine is essential, another good idea is to allow some flexibility for things that come up spontaneously or if the day is rough.
- Encourage independence
It is important for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to do as much as possible on their own, with as little help as possible. This can be made more accessible, for example, by looking ahead, seeing which tasks will take more time than before, and adding more time for completion. For example, options can also be given when dressing, allowing him to choose between two changes. Things can be made more accessible by offering implicit cues, such as putting clothes in the correct order for dressing.
- Use of effective communication
People with dementia do better when given clear and easy-to-understand instructions, try to communicate clearly, and share the step by step necessary to carry out the tasks. Reducing distractions favors concentration on charges or during conversations; it is better to turn off the television when eating or to avoid distractions while talking to help the patient’s attention.
- Set sleep schedules
Good sleep hygiene is essential. Nap time should be limited. They should not take several long naps throughout the day, as people can confuse day with night and lose track of time.
- Be flexible with the disease.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. It is essential to adjust routine and expectations as needed to reduce frustration for a person with dementia. For example, if the person wants to wear the same clothes daily, he can have several identical changes. If he does not want to bathe, you can consider reducing the frequency of baths.
- Lean on the close environment
Sharing the diagnosis of the disease with family and friends is not only crucial for the person but also for the primary caregivers. All family members of people with Alzheimer’s should know what it is and how they can help. Things like preparing a meal, calling the person with Alzheimer’s, helping with home repairs, or offering to hang out can ease the burden of the disease on people living with or primarily responsible for it.
- Inform the immediate environment of the patient about the disease
When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, those close to them may wonder how and when to tell their family and friends. People can often see that something is different in the person, so it is good that the immediate environment knows what is happening and avoid confusion or misunderstanding. Although there may be concern about changing treatment and the consequences of the diagnosis, creating a safe environment for the patient is essential.
When the time is right, it is essential to educate the people around you about Alzheimer’s disease, to know what it means, and to help them understand. There is also no need to worry about how to communicate it best, as, in many other complicated diagnoses, there is no correct way to do it. Each person will do it the way they feel and need it.
It’s important to share information, websites, and articles and talk with family and friends about Alzheimer’s disease and its effects on memory, thinking, and behavior.
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that affects the memory and cognitive system and progresses over time. There is still no cure. People with Alzheimer’s become increasingly dependent over time. It is essential to understand the disease and the symptoms in the immediate environment for the well-being of the patient and himself. Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is really challenging. To help loved ones understand what is happening and know how to support them, it is crucial to educate them about the condition and its symptoms.
Establishing constructive routines, fostering independence, employing direct and succinct communication, and practicing good sleep hygiene are all helpful treatments for people with Alzheimer’s. Adaptability is essential because some days may be worse, and the disease’s symptoms will probably worsen over time. It’s necessary to strike a balance between the patient’s abilities, desires, and what needs to be done.