The one part of life that we take for granted every day is ourselves. Being of sound mind and body. Being able to think back to all that has made us, us, and to use that past to make the future better. So many of us don’t even think about our life until we lose it, but that is essentially what happens when you have Alzheimer’s. For those who don’t know much about it, are starting to suffer from its effects, or worry a loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms, here is everything that you need to know:
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. The two words often go hand-in-hand, simply because Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. In essence, it is a disease that causes memory loss and a serious decrease in cognitive function.
Alzheimer’s is such a common disease amongst those with dementia that it makes up 60 to 80% of all dementia cases. Despite how common it is in those with dementia, it is not a condition you should expect as you age. It is not a normal component of aging and not everyone will develop it. While yes, old age is one of the largest risk factors, it is not a guarantee.
An average of 200,000 adults under the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s in the United States. For those under the age bracket, it is often called younger-onset Alzheimer’s. It is a serious and terrifying disease because there is no cure, and it is also progressive. What may start out as forgetfulness can develop into a case so severe that they need constant care and attention for even the most basic of tasks like eating or bathing.
Though there isn’t yet a cure, there are many treatments available that have proven effective at stopping the progression of the disease, allowing those with dementia to enjoy a better quality of life for longer. Like cancer, Alzheimer’s is up there as one of the top diseases that the healthcare community are working to figure out and solve.
The problem with Alzheimer’s is that it isn’t going to look nefarious when you first start. Most of us forget tasks at one point or another. Keys, ingredients at the grocery store, and even bigger tasks that we just cannot believe we forgot about. These issues often progress as we get older, but it often doesn’t mean Alzheimer’s, it’s just old age.
Alzheimer’s can start out seemingly like just forgetfulness, but it rapidly progresses into something much more sinister. Most people who are forgetful have the Aha! moment when they are reminded of a fact that they forgot. Those with Alzheimer’s have complete memory blanks. They won’t remember, and more pressingly they will begin to forget key details of their own life.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect daily reminders and older memories. One of the first symptoms you will recognize is a difficulty in learning. As it advances, there will be more severe symptoms. The patient will experience mood and behavioral changes, be increasingly confused about the order or time or events, and will feel very disoriented.
As the disease progresses further, they may forget features of life that they loved, even the face of a loved one, and eventually start to exhibit difficulty in everyday tasks, even ones as simple as eating or walking.
How Alzheimer’s Works
Alzheimer’s is still largely misunderstood. We don’t know exactly why or how it progresses, though recent breakthroughs have made significant strides towards tackling this problem. For now, we know that Alzheimer’s interrupts the connections of the brain. When these connections are broken, brain cells are left to die, and once dead, they cannot be replaced.
These neurons are what connect our thoughts, memory, and even motor functions together. When the connections are interrupted, the pathways can be blocked. In short, Alzheimer’s is a slow death of brain cells that causes the person to lose more and more of themselves as time goes on.
Those with Alzheimer’s often don’t realize they have it, because they aren‘t confronted with what they have forgotten until someone tries to remind them. It is their friends and family, however, that will notice first. By getting your parent or loved one help as soon as you notice a problem, treatments can be given to prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s for as long as possible.
Currently the only method to help those with Alzheimer’s is to manage their symptoms. The treatments available help those in the earliest stages the most, and can help slow memory loss and mind deterioration, though it won’t stop the disease itself.
Caring for Those with Alzheimer’s
The best way to care for those with Alzheimer’s is either with a comprehensive healthcare plan in their own home, or, if you cannot provide this, with a state-of-the-art care facility. Options like this Alzheimer care San Jose CA facility go above and beyond for their patients. With hospital staff on hand at every stage, as well as a memory care neighborhood where they can socialize and feel safe, those with Alzheimer’s can benefit from a safe, stable neighborhood with the constant care they need to fight against the disease the best they can.
Receiving Support for Yourself
Alzheimer’s is incredibly hard on the patient, but it is probably even harder for their loved ones who will know the full extent of their personal loss the most. Receiving support if your partner or parent has Alzheimer’s isn’t just important, it is crucial, especially if you are their carer or you spend a lot of time with them. It is very emotionally distressing, but with treatment and the right environment they can be their best selves for longer, and you can rest knowing they are safe and cared for.
Dementia is a terrifying disease for everyone involved. Ensuring patients get early treatment and are cared for in a stable environment is one of the most important steps to take. Continue to visit them and spend time with them, and show them you love them every step of the way.