All About Alzheimer’s Care

alzheimers careMake an educated Alzheimer’s treatment decision with help from Alzheimer’s Care Guide.

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are notoriously difficult to deal with for family members and friends. The emotional and physical toll of providing Alzheimer’s care to a loved one is far reaching. The cost of Alzheimer’s care on the entire nation is staggering as well. Over 172 billion dollars are lost to the disease each year.* When Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia come into your life, arm yourself with information so you can combat caregiver fatigue and provide the best care possible.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease is a common question for those who begin to see diminished memory skills in their older loved ones. While there is much misinformation on the subject, the high-level difference is fairly straight-forward.

Dementia is a loss of brain function that happens as a result of a traumatic brain injury, tumor, stroke or degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Dementia describes the cognitive impairment of individuals who suffer from any number of ailments, not the source of their impairment. The vast majority of dementia cases occur in seniors aged 65 or older. Over 24 million people currently suffer from dementia worldwide.

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific degenerative disease that causes cognitive impairment and dementia symptoms in patients. In fact, it is the leading form of dementia worldwide. Alzheimer’s patients often experience increasing symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, irritability, aggression and loss of bodily function. As a brain disease, it is physical as well as emotional in nature.

Your doctor can perform a myriad of tests including CT scans and MRIs, as well as intellectual assessments and caregiver interviews to determine the severity and origin of your loved one’s cognitive impairment. Once you have a diagnosis, the question of dementia vs. Alzheimer’s floats to the background and Alzheimer’s treatment options take center stage.

Alzheimer’s Treatment Options

Unfortunately, as of now Alzheimer’s is an incurable and terminal disease. Alzheimer’s treatment centers on mitigating negative symptoms for the patient and those around him. Once diagnosed, Alzheimer’s sufferers typically live about seven years. However, with over 5.3 million people receiving Alzheimer’s care across the U.S., its effects are far reaching, and studies continue to search for more information that will help us offer increased Alzheimer’s care to patients.

The majority of higher-functioning Alzheimer’s patients are cared for in the home by unpaid (often family) caregivers. As the disease’s symptoms progress, Alzheimer’s treatment becomes increasingly difficult for untrained caregivers to handle. Symptoms of aggression, depression and wandering, as well as growing physical needs become overwhelming and even dangerous. At this point, seeking out special memory care units at long-term care facilities will ensure the most safety and health for both you and your loved one.

Choosing individual Alzheimer’s treatment depends on your family’s budget, your loved one’s specific needs, location and personal preferences. Alzheimer’s care facilities come in all sizes, and are regulated federally and at the state level. For personalized help choosing a memory care facility near you, just call the toll-free number at the top of this page and an experienced elder care advisor will assist you shortly.

Alzheimer’s Stages

An idiosyncrasy of most forms of dementia includes the fact that symptoms go largely unnoticed by the sufferer at all stages. That leaves caregivers and family members to walk a fine line when communicating with and caring for their affected loved ones.

Pre- and Early Alzheimer’s stages can even go unnoticed by the closest friends and family members. Emotional attachment and dismissive thoughts about aging and senility in general often cause loved ones to ignore or excuse early signs. The first sign of dementia often includes an inability to make or recall recent memories. While motor function, speech and long-term memory remain intact, recent memories are easily lost and new skills are hard won.

Middle Alzheimer’s stages become progressively more obvious as vocabulary decreases, written skills decline and complex motor skills deteriorate. Often, Alzheimer’s care for these patients becomes more necessary as they need more help with activities of daily living. Propensities to wander and get lost also increase at this time, as well as irritability and aggression.

Late Alzheimer’s stages can vary significantly from patient to patient. However, by the end, many Alzheimer’s patients lose bodily function to the point where wandering and outbursts of anger are no longer as threatening. Instead, Alzheimer’s treatment at this time centers on pain management and physical assistance. The ability to speak, eat and move about become severely limited or non-existent, so round the clock care is often needed.

If your loved one needs trained Alzheimer’s care, see our Family Resources section for support and help, or contact an elder care advisor for help finding a facility today.

* Source: 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association.