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What To Do About Alzheimer’s

What Is Alzheimers Disease

How Do You Know If You Have Alzheimer Disease
  • Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia.
  • It is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
  • Alzheimers disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
  • It can seriously affect a persons ability to carry out daily activities.

What Is Known About Reducing Your Risk Of Alzheimers Disease

The science on risk reduction is quickly evolving, and major breakthroughs are within reach. For example, there is growing evidence that people who adopt healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and blood pressure management can lower their risk of dementia. There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, may also reduce risk for subjective cognitive decline. To learn more about the current state of evidence on dementia risk factors and the implications for public health, please read the following summaries on Cardiovascular Health, Exercise, Diabetes and Obesity, Traumatic Brain Injury , Tobacco and Alcohol, Diet and Nutrition, Sleep, Sensory Impairment, and Social Engagement or the Compiled Report .

Aging

If You Live In England

Your GP may invite you to an NHS Health Check, or you can book an appointment by contacting them.

This NHS Health Check is available to anyone aged 4074 who lives in England and does not already have diabetes, heart, kidney or circulation problems. It is designed to find any early signs of these conditions and stop them getting worse. Ideally, you should have this check-up every five years.

After your health check, you can discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional and get advice on looking after your health, including reducing your risk of dementia.

If you already have any of these conditions, its still important to have regular health check-ups. However you dont need to book an NHS Health Check specifically.

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What’s The Bottom Line On Alzheimer’s Prevention

Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and the best strategy to prevent or delay it may turn out to be a combination of measures. In the meantime, you can do many things that may keep your brain healthy and your body fit.

You also can help scientists learn more by volunteering to participate in research. Clinical trials and studies are looking for all kinds of peoplehealthy volunteers, cognitively normal participants with a family history of Alzheimer’s, people with MCI, and people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

To find study sites near you, contact NIA’s Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral Center at 1-800-438-4380 or . Or, visit the Alzheimers.gov Clinical Trials Finder to search for trials and studies.

What Are Some Risk Factors For Alzheimers Disease

Determining If a Parent has Alzheimer

Risk factors for the development of Alzheimers disease include:

  • Age. Increasing age is the primary risk factor for developing Alzheimers disease.
  • Genetics . There is a certain gene, apolipoprotein E that is associated with late-onset Alzheimers disease. Other genes have been associated with early-onset Alzheimers disease.

Researchers believe the presence of the last five risk factors mentioned above might reduce the clearance of amyloid protein from the brain, which then increases the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. In particular, the presence of a number of these risk factors at the same time and while the person is in his or her 50s is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimers disease.

There may be some ways to reduce the risk of mental decline. In general, living a healthy lifestyle protects the body from strokes and heart attacks and is believed to also protect the brain from cognitive decline. Scientists cant absolutely prove the cause and effect of the following factors, but studies have shown a positive association.

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Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that involve a loss of cognitive functioning.

Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. It involves plaques and tangles forming in the brain. Symptoms start gradually and are most likely to include a decline in cognitive function and language ability.

To receive a diagnosis of Alzheimers, a person will be experiencing memory loss, cognitive decline, or behavioral changes that are affecting their ability to function in their daily life.

Friends and family may notice the symptoms of dementia before the person themselves.

There is no single test for Alzheimers disease. If a doctor suspects the presence of the condition, they will ask the person and sometimes their family or caregivers about their symptoms, experiences, and medical history.

The doctor may also carry out the following tests:

  • cognitive and memory tests, to assess the persons ability to think and remember
  • neurological function tests, to test their balance, senses, and reflexes
  • blood or urine tests
  • a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain
  • genetic testing

A number of assessment tools are available to assess cognitive function.

In some cases, genetic testing may be appropriate, as the symptoms of dementia can be related to an inherited condition such as Huntingtons disease.

Some forms of the APOE e4 gene are associated with a higher chance of developing Alzheimers disease.

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.

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Other Ways To Take Care Of Your Health Other Ways To Take Care Of Your Health

Get a good nights sleep Get a good nights sleep.

Sleep is important for your mental wellbeing and it may reduce your risk of dementia. A good nights sleep for many people is around seven to eight hours.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that may particularly increase a persons risk of getting dementia. This is because it reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain. People who have sleep apnoea stop breathing during their sleep and then wake up with a start.

If you have any problems sleeping well, particularly sleep apnoea, speak to your GP about getting support.

Protect your hearing and get it tested Protect your hearing and get it tested.

Hearing loss may increase your risk of getting dementia. However the reasons for this are still unclear.

Many people start to lose their hearing as they get older, though they may not notice it at first.

To avoid hearing loss increasing your risk of getting dementia, its important to get your hearing tested. You may be able to book a free hearing test at your local optician or speak to your GP about being referred to an audiologist . This will show up any hearing issues and provide ways of managing them, such as using a hearing aid.

Often, managing hearing loss works best when you start doing it early on. This means protecting your hearing from a young age. For example, you can avoid listening to loud noises for long periods, and wear ear protection when necessary.

Protect your head Protect your head.

Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia

What is dementia? Alzheimer’s Research UK

Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
  • Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
  • Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
  • Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
  • Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
  • Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
  • Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?

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Dont Neglect Your Own Needs

By always focusing so diligently on your loved ones needs throughout the progression of their dementia, its easy to fall into the trap of neglecting your own welfare. If youre not getting the physical and emotional support you need, you wont be able to provide the best level of care, and youre more likely to become overwhelmed and suffer burnout.

Plan for your own care. Visit your doctor for regular checkups and pay attention to the signs and symptoms of excessive stress. Its easy to abandon the people and activities you love when youre mired in caregiving, but you risk your health and peace of mind by doing so. Take time away from caregiving to maintain friendships, social contacts, and professional networks, and pursue the hobbies and interests that bring you joy.

Talk to someone. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, clergy member, or therapist, about what youre going through. The simple act of talking face-to-face with someone who cares can be extremely catharticand a great stress reliever.

Stay active. Regular exercise not only keeps you fit, it releases endorphins that can really boost your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you cant get away for that long at once, break the time up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

What Causes Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers disease is caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain. The build-up of these proteins called amyloid protein and tau protein leads to cell death.

The human brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells as well as other cells. The nerve cells work together to fulfill all the communications needed to perform such functions as thinking, learning, remembering, and planning. Scientists believe that amyloid protein builds up in the brain cells, forming larger masses called plaques. Twisted fibers of another protein called tau form into tangles. These plaques and tangles block the communication between nerve cells, which prevents them from carrying out their processes. The slow and ongoing death of the nerve cells, starting in one area of the brain then spreading to other areas, results in the symptoms seen in patients with Alzheimers disease.

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Tips For Caregivers And Families Of People With Dementia

On this page

A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isnt just one persons job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.

Stages Of Alzheimer Disease

8 Visible Symptoms of Early Onset Alzheimer

The stages of Alzheimer disease usually follow a progressive pattern. But each person moves through the disease stages in his or her own way. Knowing these stages helps healthcare providers and family members make decisions about how to care for someone who has Alzheimer disease.

Preclinical stage. Changes in the brain begin years before a person shows any signs of the disease. This time period is called preclinical Alzheimer disease and it can last for years.

Mild, early stage. Symptoms at this stage include mild forgetfulness. This may seem like the mild forgetfulness that often comes with aging. But it may also include problems with concentration.

A person may still live independently at this stage, but may have problems:

  • Remembering a name

  • Staying organized

The person may be aware of memory lapses and their friends, family or neighbors may also notice these difficulties.

Moderate, middle stage. This is typically the longest stage, usually lasting many years. At this stage, symptoms include:

  • Increasing trouble remembering events

  • Problems learning new things

  • Trouble with planning complicated events, like a dinner

  • Trouble remembering their own name, but not details about their own life, such as address and phone number

  • Problems with reading, writing, and working with numbers

As the disease progresses, the person may:

Physical changes may occur as well. Some people have sleep problems. Wandering away from home is often a concern.

Severe, late stage. At this stage, a person:

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Related Conditions And Causes Of Alzheimers Disease

It is very common for people with Alzheimers disease to simultaneously experience brain abnormalities related to other types of dementia, a condition called mixed dementia.

Other types of dementia include:

  • Vascular Dementia The most prevalent type of mixed dementia involves Alzheimers combined with vascular dementia, in which brain cells are deprived of essential nutrients and oxygen because of conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain.
  • Lewy Body Dementia People with Alzheimers may also simultaneously experience Lewy body dementia, a disease marked by abnormal clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein in brain cells.

Some people may simultaneously experience brain changes related to all three conditions Alzheimers, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

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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Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia

As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.

Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.

Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.

Why Someone With Dementia Asks To Go Home

How Alzheimer’s Changes the Brain

Alzheimers and dementia damage the brain and cause a person to experience the world in different ways.

So, what we hear as I want to go home is often a request for comfort rather than literally asking to go somewhere.

The kindest thing to do is to meet them where they are, focus on comfort and reassurance, and respond to the emotions behind their request.

The goal is to reduce your older adults anxiety or fear so they can let go of the idea.

Helping them to calm down also gives you a chance to check ifdiscomfort, pain, or a physical need is causing this behavior.

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