September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day.

The aim of World Alzheimer’s Day is to raise awareness of the disease, common symptoms, and risk factors.

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain condition that gradually deteriorates memory and cognitive abilities, among other things. It is the most frequent cause of dementia in older individuals. It is also a progressive illness that causes brain cells to deteriorate and die.

With almost 50 million individuals living with dementia globally, dementia is one of the most serious issues we face.


SYMPTOMS

Memory loss is a significant symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. The inability to recall recent events or discussions is generally an early symptom of the illness. Memory problems increase as the disease develops, and additional symptoms emerge.

Memory loss

Declining memory, especially short-term memory (remembering things that have happened recently), is the most common early symptom of dementia. People with ordinary forgetfulness can still remember other facts associated with the thing they have forgotten. For example, they may briefly forget their next-door neighbor’s name but they still know the person they are talking to is their next-door neighbor. A person living with dementia may not only forget their neighbour’s name but also the context. Memories of things that happened long ago may be preserved over recent events.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks that are so familiar that we usually do them without thinking. Someone with dementia may not know in what order to put on clothes or the steps for preparing a meal.

Problems with language

Occasionally everyone has trouble finding the right word but a person with dementia can often forget simple words or substitutes unusual words, making speech or writing hard to understand. They may also have difficulties following a conversation and therefore become more withdrawn.

Disorientation in time and place

We all sometimes forget the day of the week or where we are going momentarily but people with dementia can become lost in familiar places such as the road they live in, forget where they are or how they got there, and not know how to get back home. Someone who has dementia may also confuse night and day.

Poor or decreased judgement

People with dementia may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers of clothes on a warm day or very few on a cold day.

Problems with concentration, planning or organising

A person with dementia may find it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, or keep up with paying their bills.

Misplacing things

Anyone can temporarily misplace his or her wallet or keys. A person with dementia may put things in unusual places such as an iron in the fridge or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.


Finding Long-Term Care for a Person with Alzheimer’s

Sometimes you can no longer care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease at home. The person may need around-the-clock care. Or, he or she may be incontinent, aggressive, or wander a lot. You may not be able to meet all of his or her needs at home anymore. When that happens, you may want to look for a long-term care facility for the person.

You may feel guilty or upset about this decision, but moving the person to a facility may be the best thing to do. It will give you greater peace of mind knowing that the person is safe and getting good care.

Choosing the right place is a big decision. It’s hard to know where to start. The following overview of options, along with questions to ask and other resources, can help you get started.

Assisted living facilities:

A facility with rooms or apartments for people who may need some help with daily tasks. Some assisted living facilities have special Alzheimer’s units. These units have staff who check on and care for people with Alzheimer’s disease. You will need to pay for the cost of the room or apartment, and you may need to pay extra for any special care.

Group homes:

A home where several people who can’t care for themselves and two or more staff members live. At least one caregiver is on-site at all times. You will need to pay the costs of the person with Alzheimer’s living in this kind of home. Remember that these homes may not be inspected or regulated, but may still provide good care.

Nursing homes:

A place for people who can’t care for themselves anymore. Some nursing homes have special Alzheimer’s disease care units. These units are often in separate sections of the building where staff members have special training to care for people with Alzheimer’s. In many cases, you will have to pay for nursing home care. Most nursing homes accept Medicaid as payment. Also, long-term care insurance may cover some of the nursing home costs.


RESOURCES FOR LEARNING


Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Alzheimers.gov

National Institute on Aging

If you would like to find information on long-term care facilities for your loved one please contact the VOYCEconnect Helpline for confidential and free information.


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