Alzheimer's Care Requires Help.
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Alzheimer’s Disease is often described as the most feared disease in the United States. Many people have limited knowledge about this complicated form of dementia, nor an understanding for when and why the condition occurs.
Our goal at Nurse Next Door is to provide you with quality care as well as to provide you with as much knowledge as possible to support you and your loved ones as you navigate this disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is growing at an accelerated pace. This is because of the increasing number of people aged 65 and older who reside in the U.S. An estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease and of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older. Approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
It is a progressive disease that worsens over time affecting daily and cognitive functioning. It can affect individuals differently and symptoms may vary depending on the stage of the illness. People often refer to Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably; however, Alzheimer’s is essentially a form of dementia – the most common form.
Some Quick Facts:
These are staggering statistics from Alzheimer’s Association and reinforce the importance of staying educated and prepared for the possible onset of Alzheimer’s in ourselves, friends, and our family members.
Who gets Alzheimer’s and Why?
Developing Alzheimer’s disease is linked to a combination of factors, some of which can be controlled, others such as age and genetics, which cannot.
Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is caused by brain cell death. It’s a neurodegenerative disease, meaning there is a progressive type of brain cell death that happens over a period of time and varies in every individual. The total size of the brain shrinks with the onset of Alzheimer’s, and as a result, the tissue has progressively fewer nerve cells and connections.
Those who have a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease, and the risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases usually run in families, either heredity or environmental factors, or both, may be at play.
Age is by far the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The disease mainly affects people over 65. Above this age, a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles nearly every five years. One in six people over the age of 80 have dementia.
For reasons that are still being researched, there are approximately twice as many women as men over 65 with Alzheimer’s disease. This difference can be in part explained by the fact that women on average live longer than men. However, recent studies have also concluded that Alzheimer’s in women could be linked to a lack of the hormone estrogen post-menopause.
Scientists are currently investigating a genetic link to Alzheimer’s. There are some families who exhibit a very clear inheritance of Alzheimer’s from one generation to the next. In these specific families, the dementia tends to start well before age 65. However, there is little substantial evidence to date indicating a stronger hereditary link to the disease.
Amongst the vast majority of people, genetic influence on risk of Alzheimer’s disease is much more subtle. A number of genes have been found to increase or reduce a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s. For example, for someone with a close relative (parent or sibling) who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when over 65, their own risk of developing the disease may be increased. This doesn’t necessarily mean Alzheimer’s is inevitable however. Everyone can reduce his and her own risk by leading a healthy lifestyle including residing in a healthy environment.
It has been shown that certain medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes and heart problems, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity in mid-life, are known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Depression is also a probable risk factor for dementia so getting it diagnosed and treated early on is important.
The good news is, anyone can reduce the risk of on-set by keeping their lifestyle in check. This means engaging in regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking only in moderation. People who adopt a healthy lifestyle, especially from mid-life onwards, are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
How Nurse Next Door provides Alzheimer’s care
While researchers continue to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, caregivers are looking for ways to improve the quality of life for patients with these debilitating memory disorders.
In addition to understanding why and how this disease can take hold, Nurse Next Door will be by your side step by step as we design a care plan together that will suit your loved one’s specific condition and needs.
Our comprehensive Alzheimer’s care begins with an in-person conversation with you and your loved ones as well as a member of our senior care team.
Comforts & Familiarity of Home
One of the most promising Alzheimer’s treatments is referred to as “environmental therapy.” Because Alzheimer’s causes people to lose recent memories while retaining distant memories, studies have shown that keeping people in familiar surroundings helps to support brain health and happier ageing.
We provide our services in the comfort of your home so you or your loved one can receive help in familiar surroundings and settings. Our in-home care service focuses on monitoring clients while they’re in their own homes where they are safe and at lower risk of wandering. Being in a familiar setting will also help orient and engage them as well as to evoke long-term memories.
Planning with Family Members
We focus on two aspects of Alzheimer’s care – the client and his or her family. In order to be sure our clients receive the highest quality of care and attention they deserve, we pair them with trained and experienced caregivers who are a wonderful fit in terms of both personality and interests.
This ensures that meaningful relationships can be built and consistency in care can be easily achieved.
Guidance for Family Members
Alzheimer’s disease affects our clients’ families equally as much as it does the individual with the condition. It is a challenging and often times frustrating disease, which is why we provide on-going supervision for your loved one.
Our care teams will design supervisory services ranging from three hours a day to 24 -hour care. We’ll also give you specific tips and continual guidance on how best to handle Alzheimer’s care in addition to educating your family and friends on what they should expect.
Learn more about our Alzheimer’s caregiving services here.
If you personally have a loved one currently experiencing Alzheimer’s disease, communication can be difficult. The following suggestions may prove helpful if your friend or family member is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, often referred to as moderate Alzheimer’s. This is typically the longest phase of the condition and can last for many years. As the disease progresses, communication and social interactions may become increasingly harder for the individual.
Here are some helpful tips to support more pleasant and positive conversations:
Alzheimer’s remains a mysterious condition but because of its prevalence, more and more research is being done every day. The best thing you can do for yourself and your friends and family members, is to remain vigilant and as educated and prepared as possible.
In addition to our care team at Nurse Next Door, you can also refer to The Caring Journal below, another source of informative resources about the ageing process and varying forms of dementia.
The Caring Journal
The Caring Journal is full of informative resources, client stories and offers a viewfinder into the wonderful world of senior home care. Read the latest blogs here.