What is the definition of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes dementia, not a type of dementia as commonly believed. A person with Alzheimer’s loses the ability of the brain to transmit signals between nerve cells, and in turn, inhibits the ability to think.
Quite often people mistakenly believe the following is the initial signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia — Wrong:
- Walk into a room to get something and forget what it was you were going to do.
- Forget where you left your car or house keys
- Was your doctor appointment at 10:00 am or 11:00 am and need to recheck your calendar
Relax, these are all common mistakes, and these missed synapses happen at any age. In most cases, it is a matter of focus and concentration.
Many cases of memory loss can be attributed to medications prescribed by a physician.
- Possibly the dosage needs to be changed. Inaccuracies in dosage can cause confusion and memory difficulties
- Possibly a medication conflict with another medicine being taken
- Consult your physician immediately and always be sure your physician is aware of every medication you are taking, the dosage, and brand may even be the reason for medication conflict
What is the definition of Dementia?
Although there are many symptoms of dementia, the following are the most common and all symptoms need to be discussed with a physician trained in the field of memory loss and dementia:
- Repeating the same sentence or asking the same question without realising the repetitive nature
- Not being attentive to their personal hygiene or care. Wearing the same clothes day after day
- Out of sorts on a continual basis
- Emotional behaviour has changed. Apparent depression. Reasons for this could be they know something is wrong and are frightened of the consequences of memory loss
- Starting to make lunch, coffee, or tea and just walking away and forgetting. Forgetting to eat is very common, and often there will be weight loss as an indication of missed meals
- Very anxious, suspicious of others, or aggressive when their demeanour is the opposite of these actions
- With all of the above, a trip to the doctor is in order, and do not forget to mention to the physician any prescription changes and always have a list of medications and dosages to provide the physician
You can understand why so many of the symptoms overlap in the difference between Dementia and Alzheimers. It is the progression that separates these two diseases, although related.
A person with dementia can remain on one stage for a very long period, where Alzheimer’s patient’s progress moves more rapidly. Close friends are not recognized, family members become nonexistent. The difficulty is recognizing their surroundings after waking up from a nap, and often create stories to fill in the gaps of memory loss.
Unmanaged Diabetes can be a culprit to dementia. Managing Diabetes is essential and not just eliminating sugar from their diet, but monitoring their glucose measurements and blood tests charted by the physician.
Things you should always do when in the presence of a person with memory loss
- Never tell a person who has Alzheimer’s or Dementia “they are wrong,” this can anger the person. They know their memory is failing them and do not need to be reminded of the illness. In many cases, they are already trying to hide the fact they don’t remember to save the embarrassment.
- Never tell a person with memory difficulty “You are doing that wrong!” Better to suggest doing it a different or new way.
- Never tell a person with memory loss “You know that person.” Instead, say . . . “Oh, you haven’t seen that person in such a long time . . .’
Treatment for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Talk about subjects they are familiar with “that day.”
- Pay them compliments on their appearance, etc.
- Ask them to help you do something, as this gives them the feeling of being needed and capable of handling tasks. The person with memory loss will be more cooperative and willing to participate in tasks
- Make them feel needed. Begin a sentence with “Oh, I need your help with folding the laundry.” or “I want to ask your advice on . . .” You do not have to use their advice, but give them confidence that their opinion still matters and they are a part of the family, etc.
- Build confidence in your relationship whether you are a caregiver, relative or friend.
A few activities that connect the Alzheimer or Dementia patient with the household
Medications can treat memory loss. Many work quite well and slow the progress of the disease. There is no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but it can be eased. The agitation and anger that sometimes accompanies the diseases can be relieved with medication. There is no medication on the market today that can reverse or stop the disease.
- Keeping the mind working, using routine tasks to instil process, and having routine in their life will help the patient and the household maintain
- If you peel the apples, I’ll bake the pie!
- Helping to set the table and clear the table after meals
- Watering the garden or household plants
- Maintaining their bedroom — whatever their capabilities, dusting, hanging up clothes, any chore they are comfortable doing
- Filling the dishwasher, although they can be difficult at times remembering what goes where
- Folding laundry – towels, napkins, etc.
Always appreciate the help the patients give. And who cares if the tasks are not done correctly, it is the care and confidence you are giving to the person.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Diseases are heartbreaking not only to the patient but the families and friends as well. Families and friends feel the loss of that person, and it leaves an empty place in the home although the person is still there. These illnesses can come more quickly or linger for long periods of time. The sadness that follows the onset of these diseases can take its toll on the caregivers.