Don’t Focus On What They Aren’t Able To Do Anymore
Rather than emphasize someone’s lost job, disorganization, or poor memory, direct attention instead to their ability to complete the puzzle they’ve been working on, a nice hairdo, or how well they walk.
Grieving what’s lost is understandable and important, but focusing on the skills of the person goes a long way toward encouraging them and can change both of your perspectives.
Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
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?
Reminiscence And Life Story Work
Reminiscence work involves talking about things and events from your past. It usually involves using props such as photos, favourite possessions or music.
Life story work involves a compilation of photos, notes and keepsakes from your childhood to the present day. It can be either a physical book or a digital version.
These approaches are sometimes combined. Evidence shows they can improve mood and wellbeing.
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
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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 Is Alzheimer’s Disease Treated
Alzheimers disease is complex, and it is therefore unlikely that any one drug or other intervention will ever successfully treat it in all people living with the disease. Still, in recent years, scientists have made tremendous progress in better understanding Alzheimers and in developing and testing new treatments, including several medications that are in late-stage clinical trials.
Several prescription drugs are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help manage symptoms in people with Alzheimers disease. And, on June 7, 2021, FDA provided accelerated approval for the newest medication, aducanumab, which helps to reduce amyloid deposits in the brain and may help slow the progression of Alzheimers, although it has not yet been shown to affect clinical symptoms or outcomes, such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia.
Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimers. However, it is important to understand that none of the medications available at this time will cure Alzheimers.
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Who Has Alzheimers Disease
- In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
- Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
- Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.
Very Mild Impairment Or Normal Forgetfulness
Alzheimers disease affects mainly older adults, over the age of 65 years. At this age, its common to have slight functional difficulties like forgetfulness.
But for stage 2 Alzheimers, the decline will happen at a greater rate than similarly aged people without Alzheimers. For example, they may forget familiar words, a family members name, or where they placed something.
Caregiver support: Symptoms at stage 2 wont interfere with work or social activities. Memory troubles are still very mild and may not be apparent to friends and family.
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Medicines To Treat Challenging Behaviour
In the later stages of dementia, a significant number of people will develop what’s known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia .
The symptoms of BPSD can include:
- increased agitation
- delusions and hallucinations
These changes in behaviour can be very distressing for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and their carer.
If coping strategies do not work, a consultant psychiatrist can prescribe risperidone or haloperidol, antipsychotic medicines, for those showing persistent aggression or extreme distress.
These are the only medicines licensed for people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease where there’s a risk of harm to themselves or others.
Risperidone should be used at the lowest dose and for the shortest time possible as it has serious side effects. Haloperidol should only be used if other treatments have not helped.
Antidepressants may sometimes be given if depression is suspected as an underlying cause of anxiety.
Sometimes other medications may be recommended to treat specific symptoms in BPSD, but these will be prescribed “off-label” .
It’s acceptable for a doctor to do this, but they must provide a reason for using these medications in these circumstances.
What You Should Do For Alzheimers Prevention
Even though we don’t have enough evidence that all healthy lifestyle choices prevent Alzheimer’s, we do know they can prevent other chronic problems. For example, limiting alcohol intake can help reduce the risk for certain cancers, such as breast cancer. Best advice: make as many healthy lifestyle choices as you can. “They’re all beneficial, and if they help you avoid Alzheimer’s, all the better,” says Dr. Marshall.
Know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Forgetting where you parked your car can be annoying. If it happens all the time, it can be disturbing, and you may worry that it’s a sign of a more serious condition. But don’t panic. There’s a difference between normal age-related memory slips, such as forgetting where the car keys are, and more serious signs of memory loss, such as forgetting what car keys are used for.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include frequent memory loss, confusion about locations, taking longer to accomplish normal daily tasks, trouble handling money and paying bills, loss of spontaneity, and mood and personality changes. “If you have a decline in your memory or thinking that affects your ability to perform any of your daily routines, ask your doctor for a screening to evaluate you for Alzheimer’s and related conditions,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor of neurology.
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Foods That May Prevent Alzheimers
You are what you eat. Weve all heard that proverbial saying, but have you ever wondered why? Your diet impacts your health because your body uses the foods you eat to regulate biological processes, build muscle mass, maintain bone density, repair tissue, grow your hair and nails in short, those nutrients become a part of you.
Brain health is no exception. Our eating patterns have a tremendous effect on memory, learning, thinking, and overall cognitive performance. A large body of research suggests that closely following diets that focus on regularly consuming brain-friendly foods like the MIND diet can help reduce the risk of Alzheimers disease.
Music And Art Activities
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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.
Emotion And Behavior Treatments
The emotional and behavioral changes linked with Alzheimers disease can be challenging to manage. People may increasingly experience irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleep problems, and other difficulties.
Treating the underlying causes of these changes can be helpful. Some may be side effects of medications, discomfort from other medical conditions, or problems with hearing or vision.
Identifying what triggered these behaviors and avoiding or changing these things can help people deal with the changes. Triggers may include changing environments, new caregivers, or being asked to bathe or change clothes.
It is often possible to change the environment to resolve obstacles and boost the persons comfort, security, and peace of mind.
The Alzheimers Association offer a list of helpful coping tips for caregivers.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend medications for these symptoms, such as:
- antidepressants, for low mood
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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.
Feast On Healthy Fats
Olive oil, avocados, and fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon provide fatty acids like omega-3s that are essential for a healthy brain and have been linked to reduced levels of beta-amyloid, a biomarker of an Alzheimers brain. Aim to eat fish twice a week and try avocado toast for breakfast or as a snack. You also can incorporate EVOO into your meals by drizzling it over your salads or making pesto pasta.
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Ways To Reduce And Manage Mean Dementia Behavior
1. Calm the situation downThe first thing to do is reduce the tension in the room.
Start by limiting the distractions in the room, like turning off the TV or asking others to leave.
And if you stay calm, theyre also more likely to calm down.
It might help you to count to 10 or even leave the room for a short time to cool down. Repeat to yourself its the disease as a reminder that theyre not intentionally doing this.
If the current activity seemed to cause the agitation, try shifting to a more pleasant, calming activity. Or, try soft music or a gentle massage.
2. Comfort and reassure while checking for causes of discomfort or fearTake a deep breath, dont argue, and use a calm, soothing voice to reassure and comfort your older adult.
It also helps to speak slowly and use short, direct sentences.
Then, check for possible causes of agitation or fear, like:
- Feeling disturbed by strange surroundings
- Being overwhelmed by complicated tasks
- Frustration because of the inability to communicate
It also helps to focus on their emotions rather than their specific words or actions. Look for the feelings behind what theyre doing as a way to identify the cause.
3. Keep track of and avoid possible triggersWhenever difficult behavior comes up, write down what happened, the time, and the date in a dedicated notebook.
Also think about what was going on just before the behavior started and write that down as a possible trigger.
Taking some time away can help both of you.
Foods That Could Be Linked To Alzheimers Disease
Unfortunately, many food staples in Western diets have been associated with higher risk factors of Alzheimers disease.
Studies show that moderate to high intake of red meat, saturated or trans fats , baked goods and processed foods that have limited nutritional value are linked to a higher risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimers.
Here are four foods to minimize to maintain cognitive function.
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What Treatments Are In The Pipeline For Alzheimer’s
There are hundreds of clinical trials going on right now, in which scientists are exploring many different pathways toward diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Alzheimer’s, says Edelmayer. There are a number of different types of therapeutics being evaluated, she explains. Some change the progression of the disease and some lessen the symptomswe need both approaches going forward. Some promising areas of research involve vaccines that prevent tau proteins from forming and drugs that reduce inflammation in the brain.
“One of the biggest hurdles in making progress is recruiting and retaining patients for these trials,” Edelmayer adds. “We especially need more diverse people, including those from underrepresented populations.”
What To Do If You Think A Loved One Has Alzheimer’s
Have you noticed your mothers memory declining? Do you question your husbands judgment in areas where he has always displayed competence in until recently? Has your sister been behaving strangely lately and falsely accusing you of taking her money?
If youre in that uncomfortable place where you suspect your loved one may have Alzheimers, it can be difficult to know what to do. Its a touchy subject to raise, and one that requires careful thought before doing so.
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What Is Alzheimers 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.
Dont Forget How You Would Like To Be Treated
If you’re not sure how to treat someone with Alzheimer’s disease or what to say, make this your default approach: “How would I like to be treated?” This approach serves well as a guide for how to treat others with the grace, love, and respect that they deserve, no matter what their deficits or abilities.
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Persuade Him To Go To The Doctor
Your loved one needs an assessment by a physician. Sometimes, other reversible conditions might be causing problems with cognition, such as normal pressure hydrocephalus or vitamin B12 deficiency. Thyroid problems or medication interactions can also affect memory and judgment. An evaluation and diagnosis are important so that proper treatment can be provided.
You may find that your loved one is resisting going to the doctor. If this is the case, you can explain that it’s time for an annual check-up.
If you’re not able to get your husband to agree to go the doctor, you could talk to your physician’s office ahead of time about your concerns and ask them to call your family member to schedule a doctor’s visit. Also, in some families, there’s one person who seems to be able to be more persuasive than the others if so, don’t hesitate to ask that person for assistance so that your loved one can get the assessment and care that he needs.
There are also visiting physicians in some communities who will perform house calls to evaluate and treat their patients.