Virtually everyone knows someone managing an aspect of Alzheimer’s disease, a type of progressive brain dementia disorder. Although there’s no cure, there is help, hope and encouragement for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, as well as their loved ones coping with the effects of this disease.
Usually one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s is memory problems, though initial symptoms can vary from person to person. Other symptoms which may be an indication of the early stages of the disease include a decline in speech, thought or vision, impaired reasoning or judgment, having a hard time finding the right words and experiencing spatial issues. People unaware they may be suffering from Alzheimer’s may notice they have trouble doing everyday things like driving a car, cooking a meal or paying bills. They may ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, misplace frequently used items such as a purse or wallet, put them in odd places and find even simple tasks confusing. If you are concerned that your loved one has Alzheimer’s, make an appointment with a neurologist. As the disease progresses, individuals experience continual mental and physical decline which leads to changes in mobility, personality, behavior and mood requiring full-time care. For caregivers the key is putting a strong support system in place.
Having a specialized physician, teamed with family, friends and community resources, can make each day, in its own way, meaningful. Building and utilizing a support system is an essential stress-reducer, it’s part of self-care. Self-care is about getting the help you need to meet the demands of your busy day. A resource often overlooked is hiring a private care agency, a source of reliable and professional help. Private care staff are trained to help with personal routines, prepare meals or help around the house, in addition they can provide companionship, transportation and help with errands and respite care. With extra hands around the house, you can spend your time your way, enjoying life together, encouraging your loved one and living in the moment that each day brings.
With the knowns and unknowns of Alzheimer’s disease, and despite the many challenges, life for patients and caregivers can continue to be filled with meaningful experiences, in unique and sometimes unexpected ways. To learn more, and for valuable resources, please visit www.alzpark.org. This article is for general information. For specific questions about the disease and treatment, evaluation and accurate diagnosis please consult your physician.