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What Is It Like To Have Alzheimer’s

Conditions That Are Similar To Alzheimers Disease

Virtual tour shows what it feels like to be dementia patient

Posted By C-Care

Alzheimers Disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory and cognitive abilities. There are over 100 diseases and conditions that can mimic Alzheimers, so it is easy to immediately think you or a loved one have developed this incurable scourge.

Fortunately, many other conditions that are similar to Alzheimers disease are treatable.

We will highlight the most common early symptoms of Alzheimers and then discuss 8 other conditions that are similar.

Early Alzheimers Symptoms

  • Memory loss that affects daily life, especially recently learned information. Driving to familiar places may become difficult, or forgetting important dates, or the day of the week. Repetitive questioning is another early symptom.
  • Difficulty solving problems or doing familiar tasks like paying bills and cooking dinner. Many tasks will take longer to do.
  • Problems with words and vocabulary, both spoken and written.
  • Changes in mood and/or personality, like confusion, suspicion, fear, disorientation and anxiety.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment to find out the cause. Be aware that many of these symptoms could be similar to another treatable disease, especially in seniors.

Similar Conditions

More serious diseases that are similar to Alzheimers

What You Can Do And When To See A Doctor

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one and think you see signs of Alzheimers disease, you should consult with a doctor. Your doctor can make a thorough assessment, as well as explain options for managing symptoms. Today, many new diagnostic techniques are available to help with the early detection and treatment of Alzheimers. For example, a blood test can determine the presence of specific proteins that may indicate whether there are plaques associated with Alzheimers disease in the brain.

While there is no cure or treatment for this condition, drugs may help slow down the disease progression. Different rehabilitation programs and services can also help affected people and their caregivers.

Dementia Patients And Their Families Struggle With Uncertainty

When will things get better?

This is a question that dementia patients and their family members ask often. Everyone wants answers, but there are few certainties to be had when dementia is involved. Experts do their best to explain all the nuances of the disease, but do their answers coincide with what a patient actually goes through? Can they truly tell you what its like to be a person living with this horrible condition?

Here is my take on this disease from a patients perspective: Things will never get better. The difficult behaviors and frustration will sometimes subside. You will see glimpses of lucidity and your loved ones old personality from time to time. But, better simply is not possible with this progressive condition.

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A Person With Dementia Feels Confused More And More Often When They Cant Make Sense Of The World Or Get Something Wrong They May Feel Frustrated And Angry With Themselves They May Become Angry Or Upset With Other People Very Easily They Might Not Be Able To Say Why They May Not Know Why

Everyone feels confused sometimes. Its the feeling you get when things dont make sense, or you dont know what you should be doing.

If someone seems angry with you, it can feel horrible. Remember that its not your fault, and its not their fault. It happens because the persons brain is not well. They may not be able to control their emotions any more. They may not be able to put themselves in your shoes, and realise they are upsetting you.

People with dementia can still feel nice feelings, too. They can feel happy, safe and calm. Some people with dementia may seem like their usual self almost every day and you may only notice small changes every now and then. Some people with dementia may not have as many good days. Those days when they do feel more like their old self can be particularly special.

Everyone with dementia is different. Dont be afraid to ask questions. If the person you know has not been ill for very long, they may be able to tell you what dementia feels like for them.

A person who has had dementia for longer may not be able to tell you how they feel. But you can learn to recognise when they are feeling happy, safe and calm.

What Are The Symptoms Of Early

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For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.

Early symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from work and social situations

  • Changes in mood and personality

Later symptoms:

  • Severe mood swings and behavior changes

  • Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events

  • Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers

  • Trouble;speaking, swallowing, or walking

  • Severe memory loss

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How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated

Medical management can improve quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimers disease and for their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimers disease. Treatment addresses several areas:

  • Helping people maintain brain health.
  • Managing behavioral symptoms.
  • Slowing or delaying symptoms of the disease.

What It Feels Like To Have Alzheimer’s

I’ve been publishing articles about Alzheimer’s disease for nearly two years. And I have to admit almost all have focused on the caregiver. Many have focused specifically on what it feels like to be a caregiver.

We can feel contentedness, pride and joy. We can feel elated whenever we make a meaningful connection with our loved one.

We can also feel sadness and loneliness. At times we are angry, depressed and frustrated; at other times we may be embarrassed by our loved one’s behavior and we can feel sorry for ourselves that we have to go through this experience. The list goes on and on.

But how does the person with dementia feel?

Although I’ve thought and written about how to deal with various behaviors that result from the feelings of people with dementia, I am embarrassed to admit I’ve spent very little time contemplating how these people really feel deep down inside.

I recently interviewed Teepa Snow, nationally renowned expert on Alzheimer’s caregiving. And I published an article here about her recommendations for planning activities for people with dementia.

At the end of the interview I asked her to recommend what she considered the best book for Alzheimer’s caregivers to read. She suggested we read The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care by Virginia Bell and David Troxel.

So I bought the book and started reading. And that’s when I realized what I’ve been unwittingly ignoring. I’ve been ignoring what it must feel like to have dementia.

They continue:

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When Most People Hear The Word Dementia They Think Of Memory Loss

And it does often start by affecting the short-term memory. Someone with dementia might repeat themselves and have problems recalling things that happened recently. But dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave.

Other common symptoms include:

  • problems planning and thinking things through
  • struggling with familiar daily tasks, like following a recipe or using a bank card
  • issues with language and communication, for example trouble remembering the right word or keeping up with a conversation
  • problems judging distances
  • mood changes and difficulties controlling emotions. For example, someone might get unusually sad, frightened, angry, easily upset, or lose their self-confidence and become withdrawn.

Symptoms of dementia gradually get worse over time. How quickly this happens varies from person to person and some people stay independent for years.

Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease

This is what it’s like to have dementia

In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
  • Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
  • Repeating questions
  • Increased sleeping
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control

A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.

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Support For Family And Friends

Currently, many people living with Alzheimers disease are cared for at home by family members. Caregiving can have positive aspects for the caregiver as well as the person being cared for. It may bring personal fulfillment to the caregiver, such as satisfaction from helping a family member or friend, and lead to the development of new skills and improved family relationships.

Although most people willingly provide care to their loved ones and friends, caring for a person with Alzheimers disease at home can be a difficult task and may become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimers disease often need more intensive care.

You can find more information about caring for yourself and access a helpful care planning form.

How Many Americans Have Alzheimers Disease

Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 6;million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimers. Many more under age 65 also have the disease. Unless Alzheimer’s can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people with it will increase significantly if current population trends continue. This is because increasing age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimers disease.

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The World Is A Very Different Place For Dementia Patients

To help the public understand the daily challenges for Alzheimers and other dementia patients, Palmer created several examples of how these individuals see the world versus how it truly appears.

Researchers say leaving notes for a loved ones with dementia is a good way to help them remember important tasks. Unfortunately, even these can be misinterpreted or misplaced by someone dealing with cognitive impairments.

In the kitchen image, the helpful reminders have become disorganized. Instead on being all in one place, a dementia patient may start placing them in random spots. Even worse, the disease may affect their ability to read their own or someone elses handwriting.

In the dementia patients kitchen, flowers and plants are also dying or missing. Those battling memory issues often forget to take proper care of their homes and themselves. They also have a greater tendency to misplace critical objects, like their glasses.

As for those old habits, while the normal kitchen no longer has dog food in it, a dementia patient may still be putting down food for a companion they no longer have.

What Does Alzheimers Feel Like

In My Own Words: What its like to have Alzheimers ...

I have been asked many times, What is it like to have Alzheimers? I think it is important for people to understand what dementia patients truly go through instead of relying on expert speculations. So, I have come up with an answer in an attempt to describe my personal experiences with dementia.

There is a drug called midazolam that is used for minor surgeries, dental procedures, etc. I used it a lot in my EMS work back in the day. This drug induces sleep and inhibits your ability to make short-term memories. It takes effect quickly and is short lived, but the effect is astounding. Someone who has been given Versed will have no recollection of anything that has happened in the ensuing minutes or even hours.

Imagine giving this drug to someone. Then, have them awaken in a building they have never been in before that is full of furniture and items they do not recognize. Give them five minutes alone in this unfamiliar place, and then, one by one, have complete strangers enter the room and talk to the person as if they have known each other their entire lives. Have these strangers talk to the person as if each one of them is their daughter, their spouse or their pastor. Have these strangers express concern for the persons loss and assure them that everything is going to be alright. The entire time, this person will be wondering what in the world is going on. Then, have all of the strangers exit the room. Leave the person entirely alone to ponder what just transpired.

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What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

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Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.

In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.

Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .

Problems With Vision And Spatial Awareness

Alzheimers disease can sometimes cause vision problems, making it difficult for people to judge distances between objects. The person may find it hard to distinguish contrast and colors or judge speed or distance.

These vision problems combined can affect the persons ability to drive.

Normal aging also affects eyesight, so it is essential to have regular checkups with an eye doctor.

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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.

Difficulty Completing Everyday Tasks

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The person may have difficulty completing an otherwise familiar task. For example, they may find it hard to:

  • get to a grocery store, restaurant, or place of employment
  • follow the rules of a familiar game
  • prepare a simple meal

Sometimes, people need help with new or unfamiliar things as they get older, such as the settings on a new phone. However, this does not necessarily indicate a problem.

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Dementia Symptoms: What Caregivers Should Know

As a caregiver, you may find certain dementia symptoms frustrating, baffling, and sometimes frightening. But what is the other side of the story? What is your mother doing — and feeling — when they put their wedding ring in the freezer or accuse you of stealing from them? Here are some clues to understanding dementia behavior.

  • Anxiety and Depression. It can be difficult for a caregiver to see a loved one â who may have been generally optimistic and easygoing when they were well — become anxious or depressed. Both are common dementia symptoms, and itâs hardly surprising. While their memories may fade, people with dementia are aware of whatâs happening to them, at least in the early stages. They know that they have an incurable, degenerative disease. They can feel the scope of their world becoming more and more confined as they lose freedoms like driving. They know that theyâre losing part of themselves too.âPrior to having this disease, I wasnât a person who needed to ask for help much,â says Becklenberg. âBut now I do, and itâs been a blow to my self-assurance and self-esteem. I canât participate fully in life like I used to, and itâs a huge loss.â
  • Wandering. Itâs not uncommon for a person with dementia to wander â to walk out of the house in a seemingly random direction. Caregivers can find this dementia symptom mysterious. Why would a loved one leave the safety of their home to wander through unfamiliar streets?

Terrifying Distortions Of Reality Inside Your Own Home

While the familiar surroundings of home bring comfort to most people, dementia patients may not see it that way. The disease can distort their perception of the most innocuous thing, like a shadow or polka dot walls.

In the dementia patients living room, busy wallpaper can overwhelm the senses. Normal dots can start to look at bugs moving along the walls like ants.

Shadows also play tricks with depth perception. The normal shadow of a table or chair can seem like a bottomless pit in the middle of the room. Researchers say this can scare dementia patients into walking around shadows in their own home or avoiding some rooms completely. Other depth perception issues include seeing objects out of a window. The scene outside can appear distorted, even if objects are close by.

Sensitivity to light is another symptom of the disease. They may even perceive the soft glow of a dim lamp to be blinding and uncomfortable.

From noticing changes in behavior when walking into rooms to neglecting plants, dementia can take many forms on someones way of life. But, through the use of various tools and tools and approaches, those living with dementia are still able to function well , Dr. Palmer concludes.

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