The thought of gradually losing one’s memory is not an easy pill to swallow. So much so, that we often overlook the impact it has on the caregiver tending to that person. Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that causes anomalous changes in the brain, primarily affecting memory and other cognitive functions.
Symptoms and Stages
Someone with Alzheimer’s disease will experience a decline in their abilities to make judgements, correlate thoughts, express themselves, and physically move. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in older adults, but is also known to take effect as early as 30 years old. “Dementia” is a term that means a person is no longer able to function on their own because of a lasting impairment of multiple mental abilities.
Around 5.8 million people above the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, and the numbers are only rising. Alzheimer’s has three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. Early symptoms of mild cognitive impairment have been known to appear three to five years before the actual diagnosis. The moderate stage lasts the longest, ranging from two to 10 years, followed by one to three years in the severe stages. Alzheimer’s develops and progresses differently in each individual.
It’s safe to say that Alzheimer’s is considered a family disease, meaning it directly and indirectly affects everyone involved. Alzheimer’s develops slowly and gradually causes a decline in memory, reasoning, and attentiveness. This delayed process gives loved ones time to prepare for the diagnosis. Alzheimer’s Association Report states that in 2017 more than 16 million family members and friends provided an estimated 18 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. With this amount of time spent, the risk for emotional distress is prevalent among caretakers.
Although there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatment and interventions can help stagnate progression. Anyone impacted by Alzheimer’s should know that there’s no easy way to manage this disease, but the knowledge we’ve received over time has equipped us with a better chance to make the most out of the situation.
Combat the Effects of Alzheimer’s
Mental Stimulation: Brain games such as puzzles and Sudoku have proven to help promote more brain activity.
Exercise: Swimming, yoga, and walking are only a few physical workouts that help relax the mind and body.
Social Interaction: There is nothing like family and friends to provide a comforting and social environment.
Written by: Dominic Ligon