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Alzheimer’s disease- What you need to know

It is not unusual that aged people will occasionally forget someone’s name or misplace their things. However, forgetting how to get home, having trouble doing basic everyday things, or asking same questions repeatedly can be signs of a more serious problem. Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the brain that is common among people older than 65. Usually it begins slowly but gets worse over time; causing large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die. This affects the person’s ability to remember things, think clearly, and use good judgment.

Some of the early signs of the disease include:
• Finding it difficult to remember things
• Asking the same question over and over
• Easily getting lost
• Losing things or putting them in odd places

Doctors don’t know what causes the disease. They do know that most of the time it begins after 60. There are medicines that can treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. But there is no cure. As the sickness progresses, most people with Alzheimer’s disease need someone to take care of all their needs, including feeding and bathing.

While some employ the services of professional Home Healthcare providers, other people with Alzheimer’s live with relatives or in the medical institution. Caregiving Tips for People with Alzheimer’s
1.) Alzheimer’s affects language. Often times the person may substitute words, such as “I need a fork” when he or she meant to say “I need a spoon.” Just give them the spoon, don’t try to correct them as this doesn’t achieve anything.
2.) Use simple words and short sentences. Speaking in a gentle, calm tone of voice can produce positive results.
3.) Avoid baby talk when talking to a person with Alzheimer’s. Its ineffective and can come off as rude. Speak respectfully in a normal voice as one adult to another.
4.) Bathing can be a frightening and confusing experience for some individuals with Alzheimer’s. It’s important to prepare everything in advance and gently begin coaching him/her to begin the process. Help as much as needed but allow him/her to do as much of it as he/she can themselves. 5.) When assisting someone with Alzheimer’s to dress, lay two choices of clothing out and let them decide.
6.) Individuals with Alzheimer’s may become paranoid and or suspicious of others. It’s important to ease the worry by redirecting the conversation to a neutral or non-threatening subject.
7.) Mealtime can be a challenge so choose dishes and eating tools that promote independence. Using bowls instead of plates or using straws for drinking can be a simple way to make mealtime easier.
8.) When attempting to engage in difficult chores such as bathing and grooming use gestures and other non-verbal cues. You can distract the person with enjoyable activities such as singing in order to lead the person into the activities they dislike.
9.) Find ways to soothe the person with Alzheimer’s concern. If an elderly woman asks “where are my babies”, it is ok to say that the babies are sleeping. Or if the person asks the whereabouts of a spouse who is deceased, it is ok to say that they are running an errand.
10.) Be patient! Expect things to take longer. Schedule more time to complete even the simple tasks so as not to hurry and confuse the person with Alzheimer’s.
11.) If the person with Alzheimer’s suffers from incontinence, it’s helpful to have a routine for taking the person to the bathroom. For example, take the person to the restroom every 3-4 hours during the day.
12.) People with Alzheimer’s disease can’t control what is happening to them. It is the caregiver who must adapt and change. As a caregiver you can learn news ways to relate to the person with Alzheimer’s.

Getting Help: If you or someone in your family thinks your forgetfulness is getting in the way of your normal life, it is time to see your doctor. Seeing the doctor when you first start having memory problems can help you find out what’s causing your forgetfulness. If you have Alzheimer’s, finding the disease early gives you and your family more time to plan for your treatment and care.

Source: Hello, Home Health Institute on Aging

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