How Does Dementia Affect Everyday Life
At Alzheimers Research UK, we have the opportunity to talk to, work with and befriend many inspirational and passionate people. All too often, these people have personal experience of dementia in fact 1 in 2 people know someone affected by dementia. They may not have a diagnosis themselves, but often they are carers, loved ones, or people who offer unwavering support to friends.
Its clear from speaking to our passionate supporters, that they want to see a life-changing new treatment for dementia. Current treatments can help with symptoms for a time, but today there are no medicines to slow down, prevent or treat the underlying diseases that cause dementia.
There are many ways an emerging new treatment could be judged as a success. Arguably the most important way is by improving the day-to-day aspects of life that dementia makes so hard.
What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States
- Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
- The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
- The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4
Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6
Develop Helpful Daily Routines
Having general daily routines and activities can provide a sense of consistency for an Alzheimers or dementia patient and help ease the demands of caregiving. Of course, as your loved ones ability to handle tasks deteriorates, youll need to update and revise these routines.
Keep a sense of structure and familiarity. Try to keep consistent daily times for activities such as waking up, mealtimes, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime. Keeping these things at the same time and place can help orientate the person with dementia. Use cues to establish the different times of dayopening the curtains in the morning, for example, or playing soothing music at night to indicate bedtime.
Involve your loved one in daily activities as much as theyre able. For example, they may not be able to tie their shoes, but may be able to put clothes in the hamper. Clipping plants in the yard may not be safe, but they may be able to weed, plant, or water.
Vary activities to stimulate different sensessight, smell, hearing, and touchand movement. For example, you can try singing songs, telling stories, dancing, walking, or tactile activities such as painting, gardening, or playing with pets.
Spend time outdoors. Going for a drive, visiting a park, or taking a short walk can be very therapeutic. Even just sitting outside can be relaxing.
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What Is Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease, which affects some older people, is different from everyday forgetting. It is a condition that permanently affects the brain. Over time, the disease makes it harder to remember even basic stuff, like how to tie a shoe.
Eventually, the person may have trouble remembering the names and faces of family members or even who he or she is. This can be very sad for the person and his or her family.
It’s important to know that Alzheimer disease does not affect kids. It usually affects people over 65 years of age. Researchers have found medicines that seem to slow the disease down. And there’s hope that someday there will be a cure.
How A Positive Environment Changes Alzheimers Outcomes
Although it is not a cure, offering person-centered care and a positive environment can help lift seniors with Alzheimers.
If they can live in a positive, dementia-friendly environment, one that supports their health, independence and safety, seniors with Alzheimers will experience more personal control.
They are more likely to remain active and engage in activities familiar to them, which will help them live well for as long as possible.
Have you created a positive environment for your loved one with Alzheimers? Wed love to hear more about your experience in the comments below.
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Why Are Dementias Including Alzheimers Disease Important
In 2014, Alzheimers disease was the 6th leading cause of death among adults aged 18 years and older based on death certificate data.1 Estimates vary, but analysis of data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project and 2010 U.S. Census data suggests that the prevalence of dementia among adults aged 65 years and older in the U.S. in 2016 is 11%, or 5.2 million people.2,3 The estimated total cost for health care, long-term care, and hospice for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is estimated to be $236 billion for 2016.2
Dementia affects an individuals health, quality of life, and ability to live independently. It can also diminish a persons ability to effectively:
- Manage medications and medical conditions
- Make financial decisions
There are important steps to take to improve the care and support for people with dementia and their caregivers. These include:
- Increasing the availability of existing effective diagnostic tools
- Reducing the severity of cognitive and behavioral symptoms through medical management
- Supporting family caregivers with social, behavioral, and legal resources
- Encouraging healthy behaviors to reduce the risk of co-occurring conditions
Changes In Family Relationships
The effects of Alzheimers disease arent only felt by the immediate family members of an individual, but by extended family and close friends as well. Family members who dont see the loved one regularly might not understand how seriously the disease has impacted them. Some family members may shy away from the loved one and their caregiver because they are unsure of what to say or how to act.
According to the Alzheimers Association, the best thing a caregiver can do to involve their family in their loved ones life is to take the initiative to talk to them, teaching them how the disease has changed their lives, sharing updates on their loved ones health and asking for help when its needed.
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The Effects Of Alzheimers On The Body
Most of us are aware of Alzheimers diseases impact on the brain. But the brain cell damage characteristic of Alzheimers can also affect the rest of the body. Here are some of the physical symptoms often seen as Alzheimers progresses.
Confusion, forgetfulness and problems communicating the effects of Alzheimers on the brain are well known. But the brain is in control of many body processes and problems with thinking can also affect general health and wellbeing. As the disease develops, Alzheimers can alter the way your loved one looks, moves and functions.
How Your Relationships May Change
As the symptoms of dementia worsen over time, it’s likely that you’ll need extra help and support.
If you have been used to managing your own or the family’s financial and social affairs, this can be hard to accept.
It can also be difficult for the person who now has to help you, as the balance of your relationship with them will change.
Other ways your relationships may change include:
- you may become more irritable and less patient those close to you may find this hard to cope with
- you may start to forget people’s names this can be frustrating for both you and others
- your partner or adult child may become your carer this can be hard for you both to accept, as you once were able to care for them
- sex and intimacy you may become more or less interested in sex
It’s important to talk about your feelings and frustrations. It’s also important to keep in contact with family and friends.
And try to make new friendships through local activities and support groups.
Find out more from Alzheimer’s Society on how your relationships may change.
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The Challenges And Rewards Of Alzheimers Care
Caring for a person with Alzheimers disease or dementia can often seem to be a series of grief experiences as you watch your loved ones memories disappear and skills erode. The person with dementia will change and behave in different, sometimes disturbing or upsetting ways. For both caregivers and their patients, these changes can produce an emotional wallop of confusion, frustration, and sadness.
As the disease advances through the different stages, your loved ones needs increase, your caregiving and financial responsibilities become more challenging, and the fatigue, stress, and isolation can become overwhelming. At the same time, the ability of your loved one to show appreciation for all your hard work only diminishes. Caregiving can literally seem like a thankless task.
For many, though, a caregivers journey includes not only huge challenges, but also many rich, life-affirming rewards.
Caregiving is a pure expression of love. Caring for a person with Alzheimers or dementia connects you on a deeper level. If you were already close, it can bring you closer. If you werent close before, it can help you resolve differences, find forgiveness, and build new, warmer memories with your family member.
Caregiving can teach younger family members the importance of caring, compassion, and acceptance. Caregiving for someone with dementia is such a selfless act. Despite the stress, demands, and heartache, it can bring out the best in us to serve as role models for our children.
Emerging Issues In Dementias Including Alzheimers Disease
Over the past decade, there has been significant scientific progress in understanding and managing dementia, with research focused on the most common form of the disorder, Alzheimers disease. During the next decade, it will be important that progress be made in:
- Improving the early diagnosis of Alzheimers disease and other dementias
- Developing interventions to delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimers disease and other dementias
- Finding better ways to manage dementia when other chronic conditions are present
- Understanding the influence of lifestyle factors on a persons risk of cognitive decline and dementia
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Alzheimer’s Stages And Progression
In the early stages of Alzheimers disease and dementia, neurons and their connections are destroyed in the areas of the brain which support memory. In later stages, brain functions involving language, reasoning, and regulating behavior become affected. In most cases, the patient will eventually lose their ability to safely live independently.
In the late stages of Alzheimers, as more neurons are lost, many areas of the brain shrink in size. This process is referred to as widespread brain atrophy, resulting in a significant loss of nerve tissue and severely impaired brain function2.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment . With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers, but not all of them do so. Some may even revert to normal cognition.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. For many, decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimers. More research is needed before these techniques can be used broadly and routinely to diagnose Alzheimers in a health care providers office.
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How Common Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia . Alzheimers disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
One in 10 people older than 65 and nearly half of people older than 85 have Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers disease can also affect people in their 40s. The percentage of people who have Alzheimers disease rises every decade beyond the age of 60. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, with the aging of the population and without successful treatment, there will be 14 million Americans and 106 million people worldwide with Alzheimers disease by 2050.
Slowing The Progression Of Alzheimers Disease And Dementia
While the progression of Alzheimers disease and many kinds of dementia cannot be reversed, there are treatments available to slow the progression and protect neural tissues, allowing patients to maintain independence and a higher quality of life for as long as possible.
If you are looking for a local neurologist in New York, look no further than Crystal Run Healthcare. Our providers span a wide array of neurology subspecialties to bring the most comprehensive and innovative treatment plans available for Alzheimers and dementia. or visit us online at Crystalrunhealthcare.com to schedule a consultation and begin treatment as soon as possible.
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Caring For Someone With Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimerâs disease is called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. An effective treatment will address the needs of the entire family. Caregivers must focus on their own needs, take time for their own health, and get support and respite from caregiving regularly to be able to sustain their well-being during this caregiving journey. Emotional and practical support, counseling, resource information, and educational programs about Alzheimerâs disease all help a caregiver provide the best possible care for a loved one.
Absolutely the easiest thing for someone to say and the hardest thing to accept is the advice to take care of yourself as a caregiver. As stated by one caregiver, âThe care you give to yourself is the care you give to your loved one.â It is often hard to see beyond the care tasks that await you each morning.
Through training, caregivers can learn how to manage challenging behaviors, improve communication skills, and keep the person with Alzheimerâs safe. Research shows that caregivers experience lower stress and better health when they learn skills through caregiver training and participate in a support group . Participation in these groups can allow caregivers to care for their loved one at home longer.
Now it is time to take action, and take stock of the people, services, and information that will help you provide care. The earlier you get support, the better.
Support For Families And Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers
Caring for a person with Alzheimers can have significant physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care, changes in family roles, and decisions about placement in a care facility can be difficult. NIA supports efforts to evaluate programs, strategies, approaches, and other research to improve the quality of care and life for those living with dementia and their caregivers.
Becoming well-informed about the disease is one important long-term strategy. Programs that teach families about the various stages of Alzheimers and about ways to deal with difficult behaviors and other caregiving challenges can help.
Good coping skills, a strong support network, and respite care are other things that may help caregivers handle the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimers. For example, staying physically active provides physical and emotional benefits.
Some caregivers have found that joining a support group is a critical lifeline. These support groups enable caregivers to find respite, express concerns, share experiences, get tips, and receive emotional comfort. Many organizations sponsor in-person and online support groups, including groups for people with early-stage Alzheimers and their families.
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Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Tangles And Cell Death
In normal brain tissue, a protein called tau stabilizes microtubules. Microtubules are key parts of cell structure.
In a diseased brain, protein strands, or threads, become tangled. As a result, the brain system of transporting cell nutrients along parallel structures which can be compared to railroad tracks falls apart.
Without these critical nutrients, brain cells die.
Memory and thinking depend on the transmission of signals across 100 billion neurons in the brain.
AD interferes with this cell signal transmission. It also affects the activity of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
The scrambled chemistry produces flawed signaling, so the brains messages are lost. This impacts the ability to learn, remember, and communicate.
Microglia are a type of cell that initiate immune responses in the brain and spinal cord. When AD is present, microglia interpret the beta-amyloid plaque as cell injury.
The microglia go into overdrive, stimulating inflammation that further damages brain cells.
Some AD research focuses on how this inflammatory response can be reduced or controlled.
Trends In The Prevalence And Incidence Of Alzheimer’s Dementia Over Time
A growing number of studies indicate that the prevalence, – and incidence, , – of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States and other higher-income Western countries may have declined in the past 25 years,, , – though results are mixed., , , These declines have been attributed to increasing levels of education and improved control of cardiovascular risk factors., , , , , Such findings are promising and suggest that identifying and reducing risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias may be effective. Although these findings indicate that a person’s risk of dementia at any given age may be decreasing slightly, the total number of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in the United States and other high-income Western countries is expected to continue to increase dramatically because of the increase in the number of people at the oldest ages.
3.7.1 Looking to the future: Aging of the baby boom generation
- By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 7.1 million â almost a 22% increase from the 5.8 million age 65 and older affected in 2020.,
- By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure Alzheimer’s disease.,