Caring for Those with Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s a sad fact that some 5.1 million people in America either have or will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease in the near future.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s do not appear in the first stages of the disease and usually begin after the age of sixty. There may come a time when someone you love may contract Alzheimer’s and will need to be cared for in an adult family home.

While the disease can sometimes affect even people in their thirties and forties, it is mostly associated with older people, although, unlike the urban legend, Alzheimer’s Disease is not a symptom of aging or necessarily a part of aging. The lack of public understanding of Alzheimer’s is common, and although many people try to care for afflicted loved ones at home, they often need the kind of professional care that they can only get in an adult family home.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions. Simple forgetfulness is not always a symptom of Alzheimer’s. But, when coupled with other symptoms, such as asking the same questions over and over or putting objects down in odd places or becoming chronically angry or worried, then the possibility that the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s is increased.

Other problems can cause similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease, such as vitamin deficiency, the side effects of medication or even kidney or liver disorders can create similar effects. Stress, anxiety and depression can create emotional problems that that can create the appearance of dementia. This is why it is important to consult a specialist in brain disorders if you suspect that someone you love may have Alzheimer’s.

There is also a disorder know as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which has some of the same symptoms and while it is sometimes a symptom of the early onset of Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t have to be. People with mild cognitive impairment can still look after themselves and do not need to be placed in an adult family home.

As yet, we still do not know the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. We do know that it can start as much as ten years or more before symptoms become noticeable. We do know that Alzheimer’s itself consists of anomalous protein deposits in the brain that form tangles and plaque, cutting off the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other. The nerve cells eventually die, causing the brain to shrink. Brain tissue has shrunk considerably, in the later stages of the disease.

Alzheimer’s is the forth largest cause of death in Western Society. It comes in after heart disease, cancer and strokes.

Dr. Alois Alzheimer discovered Alzheimer’s in 1906, when an autopsy was performed on a woman who had died of an unknown brain disorder.

Alzheimer’s destroys the quality of life in a way that few other diseased do. Those who are afflicted with this disease should get the best care possible. And that may mean placing them in an adult family home.