Can Eating Certain Foods Or Diets Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
People often wonder if a certain diet or specific foods can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The recent NASEM review of research did not find enough evidence to recommend a certain diet to prevent cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s. However, certain diets and healthy eating patterns have been associated with cognitive benefits. Studies of diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the MIND dieta combination of the Mediterranean and DASH dietsare underway. Learn more about what we know about diet and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information, read What Do We Know About Diet and Alzheimer’s Prevention?
Care Options For Seniors With Alzheimers Disease
As a family caregiver for someone who has Alzheimers, you should know that even the most dedicated families often need to enlist outside memory care help, especially during the latter stages of the disease. Two of the best options for memory care services are in-home care and residential care in a specialized memory care community.
In-home care services are provided on a one-on-one basis. A home care provider who specializes in working with individuals who have Alzheimers disease can be hired on an hourly or live-in basis. These professionals can help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and grooming, that your loved one might not want a family member helping them with.
Home care providers can also assist with light housekeeping and laundry, meal prep and in some cases, pet care. This type of care may be ideal if youre looking for someone who can supervise your loved one while you attend to your own health and well-being or on a respite basis.
Memory Care Communities
Back To Top 17 Is It Important To Disclose The Diagnosis To The Person Who Has Dementia
We advocate for person-centred care and the Best Friends Approach, which outlines that every person has a right to be informed of their diagnosis.
How this information is delivered will depend on the individual needs of the person and their situation. If the person is anxious for an explanation of their symptoms, they may find some relief in diagnosis and it may be fine to inform them. If the person is likely to be very upset, you could suggest that the physician conveys the news to them gradually. Contact us or your physician to discuss in further detail.
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Coping With Changes In Behavior And Personality
As well as changes in communication during the middle stages of dementia, troubling behavior and personality changes can also occur. These behaviors include aggressiveness, wandering, hallucinations, and eating or sleeping difficulties that can be distressing to witness and make your role as caregiver even more difficult.
Often, these behavioral issues are triggered or exacerbated by your loved ones inability to deal with stress, their frustrated attempts to communicate, or their environment. By making some simple changes, you can help ease your loved ones stress and improve their well-being, along with your own caregiving experience.
Diagnosis And Science Of Alzheimers Disease
At present there is no single test that leads to a diagnosis of AD. The doctor first needs to establish that the memory loss is abnormal and that the pattern of symptoms fits AD. This sometimes requires specialized memory testing. The doctor then needs to rule out other illnesses that can cause the same symptoms. For example, similar symptoms can be caused by depression, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, thyroid and other metabolic disorders, infections, side effects of medications, drug and alcohol abuse, or other conditions. If the symptoms are typical of AD and no other cause is found, the diagnosis is made. In the hands of a skilled doctor, this diagnosis is very accurate.
Rapid scientific progress is being made in identifying âbiomarkersâ of AD. Biomarkers are abnormal findings in blood, or cerebrospinal fluid , or on brain scans that are markers of AD. Strong evidence suggests that special tests of the CSF may be useful diagnostically. It is also possible now to see amyloid, a key abnormal protein in AD, in the brain using PET scans. As knowledge advances, these tests may come into clinical use. Even now, however, it is clear that they will not be good enough to diagnose AD on their own. The diagnosis will still depend on a skilled and thorough evaluation.
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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.
How Can I Prevent Or Delay The Onset Of Dementia
We recommend risk reduction strategies to help maintain the health of your brain.
Our recommendations include:
- Keep active physically, mentally and socially.
- Stimulate the brain through a variety of challenging activities like doing puzzles, learning a new skill, activity or language.
- Stick to a Mediterranean or heart-healthy diet. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, high-fibre foods, fish and omega-3 rich oils. Reduce consumption of red meat and dairy.
- Wear head protection when participating in sports.
- Monitor your health and control risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.
- Identify and treat depression.
- Reduce your stress, as it can be harmful to the brain causing shrinkage of the hippocampus .
Read more on our page about risk reduction
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Be Cautious About Alzheimer’s Cures
Because Alzheimer’s disease is so devastating, some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures.” Check with your doctor before trying pills or any other treatment or supplement that promises to prevent Alzheimer’s. These “treatments” might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both. They might even interfere with other medical treatments that have been prescribed.
Back To Top 19 How Should I Respond To Repetitive Questions
A person living with dementia is experiencing changes within their brain that create difficulties with short-term memory. They simply cant recall the answer you just provided. Try to understand the reason behind their questions. Could they have any unmet needs, fear, loneliness or frustration? Acknowledge and validate the emotion and then respond to the emotion. You can also try gentle distraction or redirection to a favourite activity or object. We have a workshop to help with this.
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Health Environmental And Lifestyle Factors
Research suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimers. There is a great deal of interest, for example, in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Ongoing research will help us understand whether and how reducing risk factors for these conditions may also reduce the risk of Alzheimers.
A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement, and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age. These factors might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimers. Researchers are testing some of these possibilities in clinical trials.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
While many of the other early signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease are often dismissed as being a part of normal aging, once an individual begins to have difficulty completing familiar tasks, theres no denying the need for an accurate medical diagnosis. When your loved one has this symptom, you may notice that they have trouble preparing a simple meal, forget how to play a favorite card game, or are unable to finish a hobby project.
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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.
Logical Explanations Cause Agitation And Anger
Having Alzheimers or dementia is scary and confusing for your older adult. Using logic and reason to explain why youre right and theyre wrong is likely to make them agitated, defensive, angry, or act out with difficult behavior.
Instead, the best thing you can do is not try to bring them back into reality.
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What You Should Know About Alzheimers Disease
Reviewed by: Molli Grossman, PhD
If youre supporting a loved one whos living with Alzheimers disease, you already know how challenging being a family caregiver can be. However, you might not know what to expect in the upcoming weeks, months, and years, particularly if you plan on keeping your family member at home for as long as you possibly can. Unfortunately, Alzheimers is a progressive degenerative disease with no known cure, and that makes being a dementia caregiver especially difficult.
While caring for someone who has Alzheimers can feel isolating, its important to know that youre not alone. An estimated 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimers, and one in nine seniors aged 65 and older have the disease.
In this guide, youll learn about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease and what you and your family can expect in the coming months and years. It also provides practical tips on how to manage day-to-day life as an Alzheimers caregiver and information on where you can find help from memory care professionals.
Medications To Maintain Mental Function In Alzheimer’s Disease
Several medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat symptoms of Alzheimers. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimers. Donepezil, memantine, the rivastigmine patch, and a combination medication of memantine and donepezil are used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimers symptoms. All of these drugs work by regulating neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons. They may help reduce symptoms and help with certain behavioral problems. However, these drugs dont change the underlying disease process. They are effective for some but not all people and may help only for a limited time.
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Back To Top 22 The Person Doesnt Remember Our Last Visit But I See Them Regularly Should I Remind Them That I Visit Often
The person is missing you. Validate that feeling. Respond to the emotion and spend time with them, perhaps doing a favourite activity. Do not try to correct the person or argue.
The person may not recall your last visit because of the impact of dementia on their short-term memory. Try not to take it personally because it is simply the nature of the disease thats affecting their brain
Recognize When Alzheimers Patients Need A Higher Level Of Care
In later stages of the disease, caring for an Alzheimers patient at home often becomes too demanding, dangerous and expensive. Family caregivers must respect their personal limits, recognize serious changes in their loved ones condition, and learn about alternative Alzheimers care options that may be more appropriate as daily needs increase.
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Alzheimers Disease Vs Mild Cognitive Impairment
Early dementia, also known as mild cognitive impairment , involves problems with memory, language, or other cognitive functions. But unlike those with full-blown Alzheimers, people with MCI are still able to function in their daily lives without relying on others.
According to the Alzheimers Association, about 15 to 20 percent of people over the age of 65 experience mild cognitive impairment. Many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia. However, others plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline and are able to live independently. Some people with mild cognitive impairment even return to normal.
Symptoms of MCI include:
- Frequently losing or misplacing things.
- Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events.
- Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances.
- Difficulty following the flow of a conversation.
It is not yet fully understood why MCI progresses to Alzheimers disease in some, while remaining stable in others. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater the risk of developing Alzheimers down the line.
Keep Their Mind Stimulated
One of the best things you can do for your family member is keeping them mentally active. Continue to involve them in conversations, include them in family dinners and events and chat with them about their hobbies and interests.
Take the time to find activities they enjoy. This might mean playing a game of cards, watching a television show or simply going for a relaxing walk. Temper your expectations and avoid the urge to correct any misplaced words or memory errors.
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Stage 4 Late Confusional/mild Alzheimers Disease
Mathematical challenges can cause problems handling finances. Increasingly, the person will forget recent events and conversations, although most people in this stage still know themselves and their family.
Problems carrying out sequential tasks, including cooking, driving, ordering food at restaurants, and shopping are common. The person often withdraws from social situations, becomes defensive, and denies any problems.
Duration: roughly 2 years.
Alzheimers Disease And Palliative Care
Alzheimers Disease is a type of dementia. Dementia means that a person has difficulty with memory, judgment and reasoning. This might mean not recognizing your surroundings or people familiar to you, or not being able to find the right words or do certain tasks. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimers Disease is age, but people under sixty can also develop the disease.
Facing Alzheimers Disease is very stressful for both the patient and family members. There is no cure for the disease, and patients will need more care and support as time goes on.
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Trouble With Abstract Thinking
Individuals who have Alzheimers disease often have trouble dealing with complex information and solving problems. This can mean that someone who was previously able to troubleshoot mechanical issues with an automobile is no longer able to do so or that a person who always did the bookkeeping for their small business now has difficulty balancing a checkbook. In the early stages of Alzheimers, individuals often conceal their struggles with abstract thinking by coming up with excuses for why they can no longer deal with complex information or solve multistep problems.
Stage 6 Middle Dementia/moderately Severe Alzheimers Disease
People in this stage are often no longer aware of present events and unable to accurately remember the past. They progressively lose the ability to take care of daily living activities like dressing, toileting, and eating, but are still able to respond to nonverbal stimuli, and communicate pleasure and pain via behavior.
Agitation and hallucinations often show up in the late afternoon or evening. Dramatic personality changes such as wandering or suspicion of family members are common. Many cant remember close family members, but know they are familiar.
Duration: approximately 2.5 years.
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Supporting A Person With Dementia
The way a person with dementia feels and experiences life is down to more than just having the condition.
There are many other factors aside from the symptoms of dementia that play a huge role in shaping someone’s experience. These include the relationships the person has, their environment and the support they receive.
Personal relationships and someone’s social environment are central to life, regardless of age or mental ability. People can recognise this by being as supportive as possible. Carers, friends and family, can help a person with dementia to feel valued and included. Support should be sensitive to the person as an individual, and focus on promoting their wellbeing and meeting their needs.
When supporting a person with dementia, it can be helpful for carers to have an understanding of the impact the condition has on that person. This includes understanding how the person might think and feel, as these things will affect how they behave.
The person may be experiencing a world that is very different to that of the people around them. It will help if the carer offers support while trying to see things from the perspective of the person with dementia, as far as possible.
Each person is unique, with their own life history, personality, likes and dislikes. It is very important to focus on what the person still does have, not on what they may have lost. It is also important to focus on what the person feels rather than what they remember.