An estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Although the term “Alzheimer’s” is familiar to most, understanding the condition, its symptoms, and treatment options is a more difficult task.
As we head into November – Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services is empowering our care receivers and their families to be proactive about Alzheimer’s. Read on to learn more about the disease and the steps you can take to help prevent and treat it in yourself or a senior loved one.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia, responsible for 60-80% of all dementia cases.
The most recognizable symptoms include:
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
- Confusion about surroundings
- Inability to perform simple tasks
- Difficulty finding the right words when speaking
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms like memory loss or cognitive function; it is not a specific disease. Conversely, Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder caused by cell damage. Those with Alzheimer’s often experience symptoms of dementia.
There is no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. However, certain proactive measures can help reduce the risk in yourself or a senior loved one. Work with a Seniors Helping Seniors® caregiver to practice healthy habits, like the following.
Maintain A Healthy Heart
Studies show an increased link between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s diagnoses. Maintaining good heart health throughout the Golden Years can help lessen the risk of developing many medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s.
Follow these steps to improve heart health:
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Exercise 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
Studies show that mentally and socially active seniors experience a lower risk of cognitive decline. Participating in enjoyable activities and hobbies creates a sense of purpose and aids in healthy aging.
Try these Seniors Helping Seniors® suggestions for staying stimulated:
- Engage in a creative outlet like reading, painting, or playing an instrument
- Play brain games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles
- Join group activities like a sports team or book club
- Socialize with family and friends, either in-person or virtually
Diagnosis & Treatment
Though there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early diagnosis and treatment can help those with the condition maintain a better quality of life. If you’ve noticed warning signs in yourself or a senior loved one, it’s important to make an appointment with a doctor.
Diagnosis is typically done through a combination of tests - including a neurological exam, blood tests, and brain scans. These help the doctor identify if Alzheimer’s is the cause of cognitive decline and rule out other possibilities.
Treatment includes prescription medications to help improve cognitive symptoms as well as adaptations to the person’s home to make living with the condition more manageable.
A Seniors Helping Seniors® caregiver can assist you or your senior loved one in creating processes that ease demand on memory and make daily life easier, such as:
- Establishing a spot for valuables (keys, wallet, phone) to prevent them from becoming lost
- Developing - and sticking to - a consistent daily schedule and routine
- Creating a daily checklist to track medication and doctor’s appointments
It is important to surround yourself with trusted helpers when dealing with Alzheimer’s in yourself or a senior loved one. In addition to providing compassionate care after a diagnosis, our caregiving team is familiar with the signs and can play a vital role in helping to identify early indications of the disease.
Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services is always available to be a part of your support network and we’re here to address any concerns and questions you have about Alzheimer’s. Together, we can raise awareness of this condition and help seniors living with it remain active and independent!