September 14, 2009

Alzheimer’s Homes Safety: How to Keep your Patient Safe at Home

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness that will more and more affect a patient’s brain. The centers most affected are those of memory, sound judgment, communication, and decision-making. While slow at the onset, the illness will build momentum, and it is not unusual for the patient to eventually need round the clock care. Many a time a family member or friend will take on the role of initial caregiver to permit the patient to live with dignity and to enjoy life to the fullest extent possible before having to enter a resident care facility.

If you find yourself in the position of caregiver, please note that this can be one of the most rewarding experiences you may ever encounter. Additionally, it will permit you to make your loved one’s life more enjoyable and worth living than other alternatives may be able to do. Yet in order to keep your loved one safe, especially as the illness progresses, it is important to remember that there are a few steps you will need to take to make your loved one’s home a safe and secure haven for her or him.

Here are some tried tips and tricks that will help your loved one to remain safe at home:

- Very often those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease will become confused and get lost very easily. At the onset of the disease, this may be an infrequent problem, but it is quite possible that the frequency of periods of confusion will increase. Thus, if your loved one has a dog for which she or he cares, accompany her or him on the daily walks. As time progresses and her or his mobility decreases, consider hiring a reliable neighborhood kid or even a professional service that will come and walk the pet for your loved one.

- If your loved one enjoys gardening, be sure to help out. You may wish to install a sturdy garden gate that will prevent her or him from wandering off and getting lost. Similarly, the application of garden chemicals and maintenance that involves dangerous tools should be done either by you or a professional gardener as time goes on.

- Purchase a medical ID bracelet for your loved one and make sure he or she wears it. This way, if the patient gets confused and wanders away from the home, identification is possible when a neighbor or the police pick up her or him.

- Collect all household chemicals and poisons and keep them in one locked cabinet. As the illness progresses, your loved one may be confused with respect to hazardous substances and may not remember which materials are dangerous if ingested. By keeping these chemicals under lock and key you will avoid accidental poisonings.

- You may further aid your loved one in preventing accidental poisonings by monitoring her or his intake of medications. By parceling the pills into weekly sorting strips you will be able to keep track of which medication need to be taken at what time. This will help you and your loved one to make sure that all pills are taken according to the doctor’s instructions. ...

Read more: Alzheimer’s Homes Safety: How to Keep your Patient Safe at Home

September 09, 2009

Home Care Solutions for your Loved One

Your loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness and you have decided to take care for her or him at home. Depending on your loved one’s illness and its severity, as well as the prognosis for future decline, you will have a tough road ahead of you, yet with some planning, ample help, and smart usage of the community resources available to you, this experience will be rewarding to both you and your loved one. In addition to the foregoing, you will be able to supply the dignity, quality one on one care, and whole-person care that your loved one would not be able to receive in an institutional setting.

Here are four tried and true tips to make the most of your loved one’s care at home and ensuring in the process that her or his quality of life is preserved to the maximum amount possible:

1. Plan activities. The mistaken mental picture of many about care giving in the home is that of the loved one lying in a big bed resting. This may be true for a portion of the time, but not on a consistent basis. As a matter of fact, you and your loved one will be able to enjoy many activities together! Not only do these activities help your loved one to preserve a sense of self-esteem, but they will also provide something to look forward to. Obviously, you will want to make sure that you engage in activities that your loved one is physically capable of enjoying while also being of interest to her or him. For example, if your loved one loves to go to the mall, you may wish to plan such outings frequently. Many times wheelchairs may be rented, and you may spend a rather enjoyable day window-shopping. Of course, if she or he does not enjoy this kind of activity, such an outing would do nothing to make the day fun. Find things you and your loved one both enjoy and then plan on doing them together as often as possible.

2. Depending on the illness of your loved one, there are times when her or his mental faculties may diminish. For example, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, or any other patient who suffers from a form of dementia, will experience a decrease in the ability to effectively communicate. At first you may realize that your loved one is searching for the correct word, but later on she or he may have trouble with keeping focus or following her or his train of thought. In times like these it is important to be prepared and keep the conversations easy and without frustrations. You may wish to use shorter sentences yourself, only convey one idea per sentence, keep good eye contact, smile encouragingly, and allow your loved one the time she or he needs to communicate her thoughts. ...

Read more: Home Care Solutions for your Loved One

August 31, 2009

Care for Caregivers: Knowing When to Take a Break

Caregivers are a blessing for the patient who is no longer able to perform many of the daily tasks of life for him or herself. In addition to the foregoing, the services of a dedicated caregiver will become more and more important as an illness progresses and further impairs a patient’s ability to manage even the simplest aspects of daily living. Yet while caregivers are such important people, they have a lot more to deal with than meets the eye.

Considering that many caregivers are close family members, oftentimes grown up children caring for their parents, the change in the parent child relationship is quite often devastating for the caregiver. It is indeed hard to look at a parent whose health is failing, who is no longer able to care for her or himself, needs help with feeding and perhaps even toileting, and then remembering the strong individual this person used to be. Sometimes grown children are not ready for this transition and wish it were progressing slower, or are simply afraid of the inevitability of the patient’s fate. Of course, the patient, very often the parent, may not be ready for this transition in the parent-child relationship either, and in addition to the physical and metal impairments may experience severe emotional distress that finds no outlet but against the caregiver.

As you can see, these care giving situations are a potential breeding ground for anger, frustration, discord, and great emotional upheaval, and there are times when a caregiver literally needs a time-out. Yet how will you know when to take a break? Here are four tried and true tips that will help you to ascertain when it is time to step back for a breather.

1. If you find that emotionally or physically your well being is beginning to suffer, it is time to take a break. For example, if you suffer from health challenges yourself but have them under control, yet suddenly they flare up worse than ever before you know that your role as caregiver is beginning to affect your health. Similarly, if you suddenly realize that you are suffering from a bout of depression or clinical anxiety, or if you find your relationships with others marred by withdrawal, irritability, or sudden angry outbursts, you know that it is time to step back. Obviously you cannot do away with your care giving, yet this may be the time to either find a support group that will allow you to channel and vent your anger in a safe environment, or perhaps you may wish to find a relief caregiver who can come in when you need a break. Ideally, these two combined will help you preserve your emotional and physical health. ...

Read more: Care for Caregivers: Knowing When to Take a Break

August 24, 2009

Safety Issues to Consider for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, which slowly and progressively reduces the patient’s ability to care for her or himself. More and more dependent on caregivers, the patient will not only experience memory loss but also the inability to make sound judgments. What she or he would have previously recognized as a dangerous situations, no longer holds the same value judgment, and very often Alzheimer’s patients have grievous and even life threatening, accidents.

Caregivers are able to avoid many such accidents by observing a number of safety rules and suggestions. The top seven safety issues to consider when dealing with a loved one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are as follows:

- Please remember that Alzheimer’s patients oftentimes get disoriented. They tend to wander off, oftentimes with a specific location in mind, yet somewhere along the way they either get lost or forget the location for which they are headed. Adding to this the suspicions that sometimes take hold of the patient’s mind, they rarely stop to ask for help. For this reason it is best that you, as the caregiver, are able to monitor the comings and goings of your loved one. For example, this may mean having to relocate deadbolts and door locks out of reach toward the top of the doors. There are also doorknob covers available that will prevent a round doorknob to be turned by someone who does not know how to work the contraption. If your loved one lives on a busy street, this may very well save her or his life.

- Confine hazardous liquids, such as cleaners, paints, or garden chemicals, in one or two locations and keep these cabinets locked. An Alzheimer’s patient may not remember that certain substances are poisonous and may mistakenly ingest some. Again, there are some great products out there for childproofing such areas, and perhaps it may not be a bad idea to do so.

- Avoid accidental poisonings by helping your loved one to take her or his medications. Overmedicating is often a cause for accidental poisonings since the patient will not be able to remember whether or not she or he has already taken the daily dose of the pills prescribed. For the remainder of the time, keep the medications out of reach for your loved one.

- While you want to give your loved one as much as space as possible, you still want to make sure he or she is safe even in your absence. Yet forgotten toaster ovens, irons, or coffee makers may present severe burn hazards. There are automatic shut off devices available for these appliances, and it may be worthwhile to invest in some of them.

- Another important aspect of safety for Alzheimer’s patients is the prevention of falls. Very often this may be accomplished by adding lighting to stairwells, and overall areas of the home that previously were a bit dark. Obviously, you don’t want the light to be glaring, yet some well placed additional lights that help your loved one to safely navigate stairs or the entry way are appropriate. Similarly, you may wish to install some nightlights in the outlets throughout the home to add some light even at night so your loved one will be able to easily find the light switches. ...

Read more: Aging Caregiver and Safety Issues to Consider for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

August 19, 2009

How to Handle Incontinence in Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s disease is a much feared illness in part because it is still incurable, but in part also because it reduces active, healthy adults who are accustomed to their independent lifestyles to suddenly become dependent on others not only for assistance with such tasks as shopping and house cleaning, but even such intimate aspects of living as feeding and even toileting. Incontinence - while sometimes a normal aspect of aging - may be a hugely embarrassing aspect of this illness to someone who suffers from the gradual diminishing of her or his faculties; more often than not it is perceived as adding insult to injury. Caregivers as well often have a hard time seeing the gradual mental as well as physical decline of their loved one as the disease progresses.

There are a number of steps a caregiver can take that will help both her or him as well as the loved one take this new hurdle of incontinence in a stride, and with a bit of preparation and know how, the embarrassment may be reduced and a feeling of dignity will be preserved for the patient. Here are five suggestions to make this process easier:

- The urge to use the bathroom propels us to excuse ourselves from activities and go in search of these facilities. Unfortunately, when a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, she or he will sometimes not recognize this urge anymore. She or he may literally forget to use the bathroom prior to leaving the house or during activities. This will then result in embarrassing episodes of loss of bladder or even bowel control. Knowing that this is part and parcel of this disease, the caregiver should purchase adult incontinence products, such as adult briefs, that will help to reduce the occurrence of embarrassing public moments. Be certain that your loved ones has the products easily accessible and knows how to put them on. Similarly, it will not hurt to have a couple of spares in your purse when accompanying your loved one to go shopping or on other errands.

- While at home, make sure that your loved has easy access to the bathroom. This means that it is only a few short steps from her or his bedroom to the bathroom, and it also means that you, as the care giver, ensure that your loved ones dresses in such a manner that clothes may be removed quickly and easily when visiting the bathroom. There are many attractive clothing options available for patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and none of them have cumbersome buttons, snaps, drawstrings or zippers that make using the bathroom harder than necessary. ...

Read more: Alzheimer’s Help: How to Handle Incontinence in Alzheimer’s Patients

August 10, 2009

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Disorders Can Mimic Them

Alzheimer’s disease is that dreaded condition among the family of dementia illnesses that is most feared by patients. More than four million United States citizens are affected by this slow-progressing illness for which no known cure has been found. This disease attacks brain functions, in particular the center of the brain that deals with memory, communication, and decision-making. Symptoms may be:

- Memory impairment that becomes worse over time

- A duration of illness that may be anywhere from three to twenty years from the first symptoms

- Gradually apparent bouts of disorientation with respect to time and location, inability to make sound judgments, being given to rash decision making, and misplacing items in strange locations

- As the illness progresses, the ability of take care of oneself is greatly diminished and patients will need assistance with such basic tasks as feeding, toileting and personal hygiene.

While these symptoms may not all be present all the time, they are frequently going together.

However did you know that there are some illnesses that may actually mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s? It is true! Take a look at these diseases that may cause you or your loved one to fear the dreaded Alzheimer’s:

- Hypocalcaemia, which is a term denoting and overage of calcium in the bloodstream. The causes may be either a tumor secreting the electrolyte or hyperparathyroidism. One of the effects of a calcium overage in the blood is that of severe injunction of memory capability, which is similar to the loss of memory function experienced in Alzheimer’s patients. When hypocalcaemia is treated, either by surgery or through medication, the Alzheimer like symptoms diminish as well.

- Vascular dementia, which is the destruction of brain tissue caused by one or multiple strokes, may sometimes be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s. The brain tissue is destroyed because blood vessels in the brain are blocked with tiny blood clots, which are a result of the strokes. CT scans of the brain may be used to diagnose this condition for certain, and anytime that Alzheimer like symptoms are suddenly apparent, it would be wise to check for such alternative problems. ...

Read more: Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Disorders Can Mimic Them

August 03, 2009

Alzheimer’s Statistics from the USA and Worldwide

Alzheimer’s disease is a startling illness. It is incurable, and it slowly, gradually, and unstoppably ravages a patient’s ability to communicate, remember events, function in society, or simply make sound judgments. So, the patient will be dependent on loved ones to gradually take care of her or him, and eventually a long term care facility with a trained staff may oversee the care of the individual until the end of life is reached.

Statistics about this illness abound. Here are but a few from the United States:

- In the August 2003 issue of the Archives of Neurology it was estimated that more than 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, this number is said to have doubled since the year 1980.
- A 1992 Gallup survey of 1,015 Americans revealed that one in ten had an immediate family member who suffers from the disease while at least one in three had a friend or acquaintance that has this illness.
- In 1989, the Annals of Neurology reported that it is not unheard of for individuals in their late thirties or early forties to be affected by this disease in the form of an inherited kind of Alzheimer’s disease.
- In 1989, JAMA advised that one in ten Americans over the age of sixty-five, and at least half of Americans aged eighty-five and older were affected by the disease.

These are sobering statistics indeed, yet one wonders how they compare around the world. The United States Census Bureau has released its 2004 research figures, and according to their data, Alzheimer’s disease is in rapid development throughout the world.

- Central America, as defined by the populations of Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua, show almost 293,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
- South American cities, namely Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela made up for almost another 4.5 million individuals affected by this illness. ...

Read more: Alzheimer’s Statistics from the USA and Worldwide

July 30, 2009

Activities for Dementia Patients with Depression

Dementia is a term for the kinds of illnesses that deal with the loss of brain function as it relates to memory, ability to communicate, ability to judge, and ability to function in everyday society. Under this mark you will find such terms as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, to name but a few. Patients affected by these diseases come from all walks of life, and for this reason it is quite frequently possible that a patient finds the diagnosis intolerable.

For those patients who have just been diagnosed as well as for those who are living with the illness, depression is a very common additional condition that will befall them. After all, an active patient will have a hard time reconciling her or himself to a lifestyle that involves giving control of finances and basic living decisions over to loved ones. Similarly, since these diseases are incurable, she or he will often have to battle with the finality of the diagnosis. Caregivers may sometimes have a hard time determining if depression has snuck up on their loved ones, but as a general rule of thumb, a prolonged exhibition of some of the symptoms of depression is a good indicator that something is amiss:

- Your loved one may suffer from the doldrums for extended periods of time where nothing and nobody will be able to cheer her or him up.

- She or he may voice to you concerns of becoming a burden, being worthless, or feeling extremely guilty for “doing this”, meaning getting sick, to you and the family.

- The patient may be considering suicide and may either discuss it with you or you may get the feeling that she or he is leading up to it, for example by stashing large amounts of pills.

- Your loved one may suddenly drink or smoke more than previously.
She or he may lose sleep or in the alternative sleep all day and refuse to get out of bed.

If you notice these kinds of behavior and activities in your loved one, you will need to step forward and help her or him to deal with what apparently is a case of depression. Sometimes a patient may not be aware of the accompanying depression and instead believe that the symptoms are part and parcel of the dementia. This patient will see a dramatic increase in her or his quality of life when the depression is adequately dealt with. ...

Read more: Activities for Dementia Patients with Depression

July 20, 2009

Alzheimer’s Stages and How to Keep Your Focus on Feelings

Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable illness, which will gradually ravage a patient’s brain functions as they relate to memory, sound judgment, and the ability to effectively communicate and reason. At times, advanced cases of the disease will suffer from hallucinations, extreme anxiety which may lead to physically violent episodes of acting out, as well as extreme suspicion of others. The disease itself is not fast moving. At times the term may be as short as three years, while at other times it may be as long as twenty years.

During this decline in brainpower, the patient will experience a plethora or feelings. At the top of the list are helplessness, anger, and a feeling of extreme worry – “what if” is a term very often uttered by those in the early stages of the illness and as a caregiver, you will most likely have to bear the brunt of these emotions. While it is not always easy to deal with your loved one’s feelings, it is compounded by your own feelings of despair that you may very well experience as you see your vivacious loved one gradually decline.

Here are some common sense suggestions on how to keep your own feelings in check, even if your loved one no longer can.

At the onset of the disease, the effects are extremely mild and may sometimes be mistaken for age related changes. Brief memory lapses, such as a search for the car keys or house keys may give hints to the patient that something is changing in the way they are functioning in their everyday lives. At this point it is not uncommon for some to simply not think about Alzheimer’s disease, while others may wish to discuss it with their families. If your loved one approaches you with such thoughts, it is important to not just negate any veracity of their fears, but instead to hear them out, and support their decisions. This may be a time that your loved one will want to discuss your taking over financial responsibilities for her or him, and while this may make you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, please be assured that this is simply a natural progression in your relationship with your loved one. Overcome your own anxiety with this reassurance and also by reassuring your loved one that you will be there for her or him.

As the disease progresses, so will the memory lapses. It will soon be evident to most that your loved one is suffering from a form of dementia. ...

Read more: Alzheimers Stages and How to Keep Your Focus on Feelings

July 13, 2009

Alzheimer’s Facilities: What Do You Have to Know

The term Alzheimer’s is dreaded amongst families and caregivers, yet many are not certain exactly what it involves. By way of a definition, it is important to realize that Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable brain disorder that will become progressively worse. Attacking the memory centers of the brain, the illness gradually progresses to a point where a patient’s memory, ability to reason and make sound judgments, as well as her or his ways of communicating with others is seriously compromised.

Advanced cases of Alzheimer’s disease are often defined by a patient’s increase in anxiety, aggressiveness, as well as hallucinations. Sadly, very often as the disease progresses those closest to the patient find that they are no longer able to provide the overall care needed to not only keep the patient safe, but to also ensure that she or he will experience an improvement in their quality of life. For this reason, long-term Alzheimer’s care facilities are very often the answered prayer, yet sometimes loved ones are unsure how to approach a facility to find out whether or not they are a good fit for the patient.

Very often it appears overwhelming to a caregiver, yet with a few well-placed questions much of the details will be worked out well before your loved one will need to transition from the home environment to the long-term care facility. Here is a list of ten questions that will get you started:

1. Speak about money. The facility should have an established rate sheet that explains the fees for services rendered as well as the incidental charges that may be incurred. For instance, a basic monthly fee should include room and board, etc., while regular incidentals could include the monthly visits of a licensed cosmetologist for hair and nail care.

2. Who will be the attending physician? Facilities general have one or two attending physicians who will visit each patient once a month and oversee the immediate care as well as prescriptions. Yet perhaps you and your loved one will prefer your own doctor to be the attending physician, in which case you will need to make sure the facility will accommodate your wishes.

3. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Sure, the lobby will almost always be clean, but ask to see the lunchroom, the adjacent restrooms, etc. Are they clean? Is the floor slippery? Are electrical outlets covered with intact plates? Are there handrails in the restrooms?

4. Is entertainment provided? Most often there will be a lounge with a television set, but what else is there? Take a look around and ask for a schedule. There should be group activities, perhaps some crafts, scheduled outings, and maybe even some spiritual events. ...

Read more: Alzheimers Facilities: What Do You Have to Know when Choosing One of Them

July 06, 2009

What Are The Most Common Forms of Dementia

Dementia is one of a number of illnesses causing a continuous decline in the mental abilities of a person. There are several different forms dementia can take on, and the term is used to describe a large amount of symptoms, including a loss of memory, the ability to think rationally, a decline in social skills, a loss of intellect, and changes to what would be normal emotional reactions.

The first and most well known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for somewhere between fifty and seventy percent of all the cases of dementia. It’s a degenerative disease that aims straight for the brain, and with subtle symptoms, it may not be detected until it is too late. First of all, the early symptoms include memory loss, getting confused or lost in a conversation, and routine tasks become longer and more difficult. The changes continue to progress, until in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease the sufferer is unable to think for themselves, and requires around the clock supervision.

The second type of dementia is vascular dementia, and it is the second most common form of dementia. Most of the problems associated with vascular dementia have to do with blood circulation. To start with, there will be general problems for blood trying to reach the brain, which will cause strokes. This inevitably results in the decline of mental abilities. Vascular dementia may seem to be similar to Alzheimer’s, as vascular dementia is usually associated with strokes, which contribute to a decline in mental abilities. Since these two forms of dementia are similar, it can be difficult to pinpoint which one a patient has, and in the worst cases there may even be a mixture of the both.

Parkinson’s disease is essentially a disorder of the central nervous system. Generally, people who have Parkinson’s will have difficulty performing any physical movement, and they may also have a speech impediment of some sort. Their limbs and joints will be stiff as well. Medication has been known to improve the physical problems associated with Parkinson’s disease, but it can have drastic side effects that go as far as hallucinations and confusion.

Large amounts of people who are diagnosed with dementia have been found to have Lewy bodies in the nerve cells in their brain. These Lewy bodies are considered to be a catalyst for the death of the cells, which in turn brings on dementia. In this type of dementia, the symptoms will fluctuate wildly in severity from day to day – some days there will be no symptoms at all, and other times the symptoms will be so strong it’ll be difficult to function. Lewy bodies can occur with any of the other forms of dementia, most notably Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. ...

Read more: The Most Common Forms of Dementia

July 01, 2009

The Signs of Dementia

Dementia is best described as a loss of intellectual or cognitive (thinking) functions within the human brain. Those who suffer dementia are, quite frequently, confused and easily irritated. They may not be able to recognize their family members of friends, they become lost, even in surroundings should be familiar to them, and they gradually lose the skills, which they need, in order to live independently.

The first signs of dementia tend to be very subtle and are hard to differentiate from normal signs of aging. The most ordinary of these is the characteristic loss of memory, which so many associate with Alzheimer‘s disease and dementia. In the initial stages of this disease, it may be barely recognizable; the occasional slip of a name, getting directions twisted around, forgetting how to spell something - just little inconveniences that didn’t harm anyone. As the disease progresses, however, the signs become far more evident.

During the secondary stages of dementia, the forgetfulness the patient suffered previously has become something intense enough so as to it interferes with day-to-day life. The patient may very well forget familiar faces of family and loved ones. Surroundings may, at times, seem strange and upsetting, and people who attempting to help are regarded with fear, anger and paranoia. Step by step, their life becomes a prison and those that love them become strange, unwilling jailers.

Along with the obvious forgetting of faces, it suddenly becomes increasingly difficult for the one suffering from dementia to perform easy tasks. Simple steps are suddenly forgotten or items misplaced, like car keys being stored in a bag of flour or the patient forgetting to put lunchmeat on their sandwich and just eating two pieces of bread with mustard in between them. Surroundings frequently warp, with the victim easily able to lose themselves even with home just around the corner, regardless of how many times they’ve taken the exact same route. ...

Read more: The Signs of Dementia

June 23, 2009

Do Memory Problems Necessarily Representing Alzheimer’s Disease?

Many people equate memory slips and Alzheimer’s disease with old age, and yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Granted, as we age, memories tend to fade and we often forget details, but Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease; a condition that continues to steadily worsen until it takes its victim’s life. While people are often quick to jump to conclusions, memory loss does not always mean that a person is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are lots of people who experience lapses in their memory; some of them being serious, while others are not. Those who suffer from serious changes in their personality, memory, and/or behavior may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or any other number of forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is just one of many forms of this disease. Simply because a person is forgetting things, however, is not reason enough to suspect Alzheimer’s disease. There are far more reasons, rather than just Alzheimer’s.

Dementia describes a condition where a number of symptoms are caused through changes in the brain’s ability to function. Those who are suffering from dementia may do things like forgetting familiar faces or becoming lost in familiar surroundings, being unable to follow directions for even the most simple of tasks, or experience severe disorientation in regards to people, places, and time. Those who have dementia may also neglect their own personal safety, their nutrition, and their own personal hygiene.

Many different things can cause dementia. Some conditions that cause dementia can be reversed, while others cannot. Furthermore, many different medical conditions may cause symptoms that seem like Alzheimer's disease but are not. Some of these medical conditions may be treatable. Reversible conditions can be caused by a high fever, poor nutrition, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, some varieties of alcoholism, allergic reactions to medicines, problems with the thyroid gland, or head trauma.

Lapses in memory can also be caused by such things as stress and anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders, metabolic diseases such as those of the thyroid gland, lung, liver or kidney failure, diabetes, vitamin b12 deficiency, and infections such as meningitis or encephalitis which affect the brain or nerves surrounding it. Drugs (both prescription and over the counter) can also cause notable lapses in memory. ...

Read more: Memory Problems: Do They Necessarily Representing Alzheimer’s Disease?

June 16, 2009

Eight Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no precise line between what distinguishes normal aging tendencies and the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. A good idea is to check with a doctor should the suspected Alzheimer’s patient begin to vary from their basic behaviorisms, regular routines, or if their level of functioning seems to change. What are some regular signs that you can look for; when you suspect Alzheimer’s disease and how do you differentiate them from normal behavior? There are 8 different signs can help determine if a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Memory Loss - Problems with the short-term memory and forgetting recently learned information is one of the more common, early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Unhappily, with normal aging, it’s also quite common to forget names or miss appointments on occasion. People with Alzheimer’s disease begin to forget more and more often and are unable to recall the information at a later date. Another good way to determine if this is Alzheimer’s related or simply a sign of aging is that it’s common for people to forget parts of events, whereas the Alzheimer’s patient will commonly forget the event in its entirety.

2. Difficulty Following Routines - Those suffering from dementia frequently finds it difficult to perform tasks should be familiar to them. What might have once been common routine now seems strangely alien. While it’s normal to forget why you’ve entered a room, or what it was that you intended to tell someone, people with dementia often lose track of steps in things that come as second nature, like dressing, preparing a meal, or the act of changing the channels on the television.

3. Problems With Language Or Numbers - People having dementia often find difficulty verbalizing their thoughts, forgetting words, or they substitute other words for what they mean. This often makes their speech and writing difficult to understand. Likewise, numbers also give them trouble, making it hard to figure out what the numbers are used for or finding they are unable to add up even the simplest of sums. A person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s may very well demand “the black thing” when referring to a comb, or “food” when they really want a drink.

4. Disorientation - This is a very common symptom of advanced dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease have frequently become confused and lose track of time or are easily lost. They may get turned around in their own neighborhood and have no idea where they are. They may forget regular routes, like how to get to the grocery store, even if they have taken the same path for years.

5. Poor Judgment - Alzheimer’s patients tend to suffer from a poor or, at least decreased, sense of judgment. They may not dress warm enough for a cold winter’s day, or they may put on layers and layers of clothing to go take a walk on a hot summer’s day. They easily fall victim to scam artists and telemarketers, and may even try to give large sums of money away to televangelists, charities, or the homeless man on the street, leaving them with no money to live. While all people may, at one time or another, make doubtful or questionable decisions from time to time, the Alzheimer’s patient will commonly fall victim to colossal blunders if they are not carefully watched. ...

Read more: 8 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

April 29, 2009

How to Lessen Chances of Alzheimer’s Disease (2)

Helping to ward off Alzheimer’s is the theory that one should maintain a healthy lifestyle. So you should eat a healthy and well-balanced diet every day, and should avoid eating fatty or sugary foods in excess. Tobacco should be avoided, especially since studies have shown that smoking causes a lack of oxygen to the brain and can result in irreversible damage. For this same reason, one should also avoid drinking in excess.

Be socially active also helps to lower the risks of Alzheimer’s disease, the interaction with other people helping to stimulate the brain. Additionally, it’s important to keep both the mind and the body well exercised and fit. Workouts stimulate the cardiovascular system help to promote good overall health, as well as good mental health. Some of the strongest evidence, to date, connects the health of the heart with health of the brain. For reasons yet unknown, Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by a wide variety of conditions affect and do damage to the heart and blood vessels. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and high cholesterol have all been found to be conditions often go hand-in-hand with Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the more evident symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is the patient’s having trouble with figures and language usage and comprehension. For this reason, it’s highly suggested that those who are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease do what they can to promote a well exercised mind, as well as body. Numerical puzzles and word searches help to exercise the brain, as do crossword puzzles. Have you taken the time, recently, to read a good book? How about discussion groups or poetry readings? There are just many opportunities to stimulate the brain that it is often overlooked, in favor of just reclining in front of the television. Set aside time to appreciate the arts or enjoy some classical music. Any one of these things will help to stimulate the brain, as well as providing unique and stimulating conversation throughout the week.

Alzheimer’s disease is best avoided by doing one’s best to live a healthy and productive lifestyle. While this is no guarantee that a person will not get Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, it lessens the risk, as well as helping to avoid other health related issues.

April 22, 2009

How to Lessen Chances of Alzheimer’s Disease (1)

Alzheimer’s disease is a disastrous degeneration of the memory and thinking portions of the brain. Characterized by tangled fibers and protein clumps only detectable after the patient passes on, Alzheimer’s disease commonly attacks people aged 65 and older. Up to now, there isn’t a cure for this disease, no way of slowing its destructive path, nor is there any method of reversing the damage that it does. The main question, however, is whether or not Alzheimer’s disease is preventable. Do you want to know how to lessen the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease? While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is debatable, recent research has been working on finding out how to prevent this form of dementia.

There are many risk factors can be attributed to Alzheimer’s disease. Age, genetics and family history are risk factors cannot be helped, nor can be change. Some of the best information has been uncovered in recent years, however, has been gathered from studying identical twins; those who have the same genes and are of the same age, but who have experienced life in different styles. These twin studies have shown: when one twin develops Alzheimer’s disease, the other will be at an increased risk of contracting the disease, but won’t necessarily develop it.

Other studies shows - even in cases where both twins have Alzheimer’s, the age where symptoms begin to appear could vary significantly. Even though there may be a strong genetic influence in Alzheimer’s disease, other factors also seem to play a major role. These other factors are aspects we can alter and what we have to focus on, while examining methods of lowering risk factors in Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease attacks the nerve cells in the brain. Maybe for this reason, there appears to be a strong relation between Alzheimer’s patients and those who have suffered severe head trauma. Even without the risk of Alzheimer’s taken into consideration, it’s a good idea to protect the head from injury. For this reason, it’s important you wear a helmet when bicycling, you should fall-proof your home and practice caution and always use your safety belt, when riding in a vehicle.

April 15, 2009

Alzheimer’s Top Risk Factors (2)

Alzheimer’s disease involves the malfunction or death of the nerve cells, but it’s not yet known why this occurs. Scientists continue to study this, but several key risk factors have been determined, in regards to Alzheimer’s disease. After considering the risk factors, this helps us find out more about the disease and, expectantly, may suggest ways of avoiding it. The most well known risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease is age. Most patients don’t suffer the disease until they are at least 65 years of age but, once they reach this age, the probability of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years or so, after the age of 65. By the time a person is 85 years of age, there is typically a 50% chance that they will develop this disease.

One more key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease is family history and genetics. Research has shown that those who have a sibling or parent with Alzheimer’s disease are 2-3 times more likely to develop this disease. The more family members who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the greater the risk factor that a patient will develop this. Moreover, scientists have identified one gene that is known to raise the risk of a person developing Alzheimer’s, as well as definite rare genes that virtually guarantee that a person will contract a form of dementia, later in life.

While not yet proven, many researchers are exploring similarities between those who suffer Alzheimer’s disease and those who have heart disease or other connected problems, such as high cholesterol. Modern studies have shown an increased presence of plaques and tangles in the brains of patients who have suffered from strokes or similar injury. While the jury remains out on this, many suggest that a good way of helping to control Alzheimer’s disease is to keep an active and fit lifestyle, eat healthy and to promote the use of the brain, every day, through things like reading, mathematical problems or number games, and crossword puzzles. Several studies suggest that one needs to stay socially active and still more show a connection between head injuries and Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping the body fit, active, healthy and protected seem to be the greatest methods of lessening one’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

April 08, 2009

Alzheimer’s Top Risk Factors (1)

Alzheimer’s is an awfully startling neurodegenerative disease that slowly robs a person of their memories, their rationality and their ability to carry out even the simplest of tasks. Just as frightening is the knowledge that, not only can we not cure it or slow its effects, but we do not yet recognize all the factors that bring this disease about. While it’s commonly consideration to be a disease of the elderly, modern studies have shown that it can also occur in younger people, and there may be several factors, when added together, create a grown opportunity for Alzheimer’s disease to take hold.

Up to now, there is no single known cause for Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies suggest there may be genetic factors, while others believe it has to do with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Still others will argue that allowing one’s brain to ‘stagnate’ and not keeping it working; basically put, that the brain grows out of practice from lack of use, may cause it. Several scientists even claim recent studies point out the damage is done to the brain, by Alzheimer’s disease, may occur years before the patient even begins to demonstrate symptoms.

There is no actual way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, short of an autopsy that is performed after the person passes away; only then, can the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques be detected. Plaques are the clumps of protein form outside the brain’s nerve cells, while the tangles are produced of twisted strands of other proteins which form inside the cells. These two abnormalities work both to disorder the normal processes in the brain, preventing the transfer of chemicals which pass messages from nerve cell to nerve cell. While tangles and plaques are always present on the post-mortem brains of Alzheimer’s patients, scientists do not know if it’s the tangles and plaques which cause Alzheimer’s, or if it is the disease which causes the tangles and plaques.

April 01, 2009

How Alzheimer’s Disease Lessen the Brain Power (2)

During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the tangles and plagues move upward in the brain, soon taking over the hippocampus. This is the segment of the brain, which is known for creating our more complex memories from objects or events. At this time, it generally becomes glaringly clear the patient is no longer safe, living without constant direction, and many are placed in nursing homes, other dedicated care facilities or is taken in, where relatives can supply them with the support and care they require. Due to the quickly deteriorating nature of this disease, it is highly recommended the patient and their family members talk about future care arrangements, prior to this point, while the patient can still make sound calls of judgment.

After this stage, the tangles and plagues continue their journey upwards, finally reaching the top of the brain and disrupting the mental processes there. Here is the part of the brain, which sorts through the various stimuli that a person comes into contact with during their day and, from that, then orchestrates all behavior. By the time the tangles and plagues have reached this part of the brain it is quite common that the patient has been admitted into a nursing home. Alzheimer’s patients in the advanced stages of the disease commonly suffer long periods of almost vegetative states, where they have no recollection of their surroundings or caregivers. Family members commonly appear as strangers and their surroundings are perceived as threatening. Usually they have forgotten simple routine tasks such as brushing their hair or using the bathroom and, as they worsen, will commonly forget how to eat, drink or even swallow.

The life expectancy of a person with Alzheimer’s disease is commonly thought to be between 5 and 10 years, with an average of about 8. Some patients, however, have been known to survive as long as 20 years before the disease took them. It is also true that Alzheimer’s disease can affect different people in different ways. Unhappily, there is no cure for Alzheimer‘s, nor is there any form of preventative medicine that one can take that will protect against this serious disease. No medicine can even slow the effects of this form of dementia, although there is discussion and research, suggesting that staying fit, keeping the mind active and eating a healthy diet may be able to lower the risk factors for developing the disease.

March 25, 2009

How Alzheimer’s Disease Lessen the Brain Power (1)

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, most regular in people over the age of 65 years, although there have been cases of hereditary development of Alzheimer‘s disease in younger patients on rare occasions also. Characterized by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles (entwined or tangled bundles of fibers) and amyloid plaques (abnormal clusters) in the brain, it is believed that these strangely misplaced proteins disrupt the chemical interaction between nerve cells, and break the communication centers within the brain, causing them to atrophy with time.

In the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the patient will often experience memory loss, poor judgment or periods of uncertainty, agitation, and/or mood swings. Throughout this time, proteins build up and create the telltale tangles and plaques within the entorhinal cortex of the brain. This is the part critical to the memory; retrieving past memories and thoughts, as well as handing out new information and memories within the brain. Unhappily, it is rather common that the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may be misdiagnosed or overlooked simply as another step in the aging process. Quite often, it isn’t until the symptoms become completely obvious, that a patient might be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

As the condition worsens, Alzheimer’s patients somewhat frequently suffer from language deterioration, problems with mathematical figures, an impaired ability to manipulate visual information, and definite or noticeable difficulty in recognizing familiar faces, addresses, or common information. They can often become pointedly confused and may forget certain things that would seem almost routine to them, such as getting dressed, turning off the stove, or brushing one’s hair or teeth before leaving the house. Feelings of irritation and unease are common during this time, and shifts in personality are not unheard of. Rather often, an Alzheimer’s patient in this stage may not even recognize close family, such as a son or a mother, and becomes very scared or angry when they are touched.

March 18, 2009

Late Alzheimer’s Stage: Your Options of Care (2)

Nursing homes are required when the patient needs 24 hour direction or special care. Specially licensed and able to manage the proper medications as needed, some nursing homes even have specialized programs for patients suffering from dementia. Moreover, nursing homes have qualified professionals on staff and have to submit to regular inspections, to assure patients are receiving appropriate care.

Many people feel in the wrong about leaving their loved ones in a nursing home and choose to keep the patient with them, where they are more familiar with their surroundings and cared for by those that love them. True, these are very good reasons, but again, one must all the time look at the big picture. Previous to you take such a risk, consider everything over clearly; are you really able to stay with your loved one all over the duration of this disease if it goes on for another 20 years? Are you ready to give up your job? What about your life out, dancing in the clubs, or taking trips? Can you put your life on hold for all that time?

If you feel you are capable of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, another form of help is available in hospice care. Hospice care is an option for any fatally ill patient, during their last 6 months of life or, as in the case of those suffering dementia, during the last stage of Alzheimer‘s disease. Experienced with medical equipment, meds, and often just talking and helping to lessen stress, hospice care workers often help to tend for the ill person, handling the things they cannot do at home, such as bathing, administering certain medications, etc.

Whether you decide to have your loved one’s care provided in a nursing home or in your own home is a choice you and they have to make, hopefully together. Consider all avenues; cost, needs, programs, reliability and respectability. Once you’ve weighed your alternatives and considered all routes, when it comes down to the final decision, follow your heart.

March 10, 2009

Late Alzheimer’s Stage: Your Options of Care (1)

Alzheimer’s is known as a very brutal and unforgiving brain disease. Damaging its capability to keep memories and communicate with the rest of the body, it is a degenerative condition; it grows steadily worse with time. Unluckily, there is no known cure, nor way of reversing the damage, once it is done. While early Alzheimer’s stage seem like little more than the occasional memory lapse, a person suffering from the final stages of Alzheimer’s is in need of 24 hour care and continuous watching. How can we handle an adult who is suffering from Alzheimer‘s disease? What sort of care services are available, to help a loved one who is in the final stages of this devastating disease? What can you do in order to help?

The most imperative thing you can do, to help a person with Alzheimer’s disease, is to be patient, helpful and sympathetic. A diagnosis of this level can be just as devastating as the condition itself, and patients are often frustrated, confused and scared. Promise your loved ones that, no matter what, you will be there for them and talk about different options with the patient, letting them have a say in the decision being made.

While a person is suffering the early Alzheimer’s stage, there are many options accessible for them, such as adult day services, retirement housing or in-home respite services. Nevertheless, as the disease progresses and the Alzheimer’s patient come to require more and more help and direction, these independent care facilities are no longer an option. By the time that a patient has entered into the end stage of Alzheimer’s, they will require 24-hour care and steady supervision. By this moment, the main question is whether you wish to care for your loved one at home, or if you believe that a nursing home can provide them with the best possible care.

This decision can be difficult, both on the patient and on their loved ones. At a time they are feeling lost, frightened and confused, the Alzheimer’s patient is already dealing with feelings of being abandoned and often suffering from unease, or lashing out with aggressive behavior. This can make a wise decision hard, sometimes, to choose. Although few find pleasure in the idea of having somebody they love placed into a home, in some cases, this may very well be what is for the best.

March 05, 2009

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Stages Explained

Maybe you’ve possibly done it yourself, more times than you care to count; forgetting what it was that you walked into the room to get. Or how about all those times when you’ve set your keys down for just a moment and, for the life of you, you just can’t find them? You could have confirmed that you set them down there, right in plain view, and yet they seem to have disappeared into thin air. It can be insufferably frustrating, angering you until you want to shout (not to mention making you late) and, other times, it can be nearly frightening and confusing when it happens, making you feel as if you’re acting brainless or, worse yet, losing your mind. But may it be the beginning of your dementia stages?

In most cases, we see these ordinary mental slips and think nothing about them. Sometimes, the brain just doesn’t seem to want to connect when you ask it a question like, “What are seven times five?” Not only is it a usual happening all the way through life, but we also attribute it to senior age - as time goes by, you tend to get a bit more forgetful. “Seniors tend to be rather absent-minded,” some might say and, for the most part, it’s so. Most people, who suffer brief lapses in memory or thought, are not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease but, for a few of them, these very slight signals can be just the tip of the iceberg.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be much like a cat, stalking a mouse. In the beginning, its approach is barely noticeable and easily overlooked; patients suffer slight memory lapses, where they forget details of current events, twist things around or, occasionally forget names, faces, or directions. Math and spelling may cause the sporadic pause but, generally, these ‘spells’ are short-lived in those who are in the primary Alzheimer’s or dementia stages. Making things even more difficult is the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia have no definite test that can be given to expose their presence. Actually, the only way that a doctor can be 100% confident on a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, so far, is for an autopsy to be performed on the patient, after s/he has passed away. While a doctor may expect or guess that the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, he can never be 100% sure about this. There is no exact test may be performed to diagnose this condition.

Since the condition progresses, the patient becomes more confused and their forgetfulness now begins to interfere with their daily activities and routines. The person suffering from the second Alzheimer’s disease and dementia stages may forget to brush his/her teeth or will leave the house without brushing his/her hair. At times, it can be more drastic, like the person trying to walk out of the house without clothing or heading out into the snow in their bare feet.

Fairly often, it is at this stage when the patient will begin to lose significant memories, such as not recognizing loved ones. Unexpectedly finding themselves in odd surroundings, one can only imagine how frightening it must seem, having a stranger come up and try to insist they are your son or daughter and trying to contact you. Obviously, it comes as little surprise that Alzheimer’s patients, at this stage of the dementia, are also prone to becoming worried or hostile and, if left unattended, will commonly wander from where they are supposed to be.

Unhappily, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, nor is there any way of reversing its effects on those who fall victim to it. Believed to stem from a disorder in the nerve cells and chemical transmitters in the brain, this condition will continue until the patient not only loses the memories of friend and family, but also memories of learning how to talk, walk, use the toilet, and so on. In time, they have no other choice than having to have full time, and total, care.

In the final Alzheimer’s disease and dementia stages, the patient has generally lost their ability to communicate and has forgotten easy things that we take for granted, like how to swallow or the ability to breathe. While people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have been known to live for 20 years after being diagnosed with it, the regular amount of remaining time is usually about 8 years. Watching a loved one slip out over several years can be shocking to a family and crushing for loved ones. The fourth most frequent cause of death amongst our elderly, Alzheimer’s is a serious condition and scientists continue to study it, in hopes of finding ways to strike it.

February 25, 2009

Alzheimer’s and Dementia: the Details (2)

There are more and more specialized Alzheimer’s research centers appearing across the world. So far, doctors who have tested for Alzheimer’s disease and other similar forms of dementia have had roughly a 90% average, when it comes to correctly diagnosing this brain dysfunction. This is determined through a series of tests, including questioning the patient (or family) about general health, any past medical problems that s/he might have, and in regards to their ability to perform daily activities. Tests involving memory, counting, attention span, language and problem-solving abilities are also given.

From time to time, medical tests will be given, such as blood work, urinalysis, or a test of the spinal fluid may be performed. Occasionally, brain scans are done also. While these cannot help prove that the patient is suffering from dementia, they are helpful in rule out other diseases with similar symptoms, such as diseases of the thyroid gland, cancers, or drug-related reactions.

We don’t know what, exactly, causes dementia. It is believed that nerve cells are deadened, in areas of the brain that are vital to memory and there are many theories about this. Modern research suggests there may be a link to the gene that creates apolipoprotein in the human body, which helps to carry cholesterol in the blood. Considering some of the risk factors involved, it is believed that there may be a connection between heart disease, cholesterol and dementia, although research is still unconvincing.

Stripping its victims of their memories, their independence, and their lives, dementia is a cruel and frightening disease. There is no certain way to stop dementia once it begins, and there is no known cure for it, up till now. Researchers do agree, however, that getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet will help to lessen your risks of getting dementia. If you think that you are at risk of developing this condition, take the steps now to protect yourself and those you love, not only through education, but also by promoting a safer and healthier lifestyle.

February 18, 2009

Alzheimer’s and Dementia: the Details (1)

The name “dementia” refers to a category of illnesses and conditions that involve the human brain; often characterized by the brain dysfunctions they cause, dementias steadily deprive their victims of memories and even the most common skills, causing them to give up their independence and rely, more and more, upon family and friends even for the simplest tasks. The most general and well-known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease; a condition which is believed to effect 4-5 million people in the United States alone.

Defined as a progressive brain dysfunction, one of the most universal symptoms of dementia is the state of confusion, which it forms in its victims. Even the word ’dementia’ means ’irrationality’ in Latin and this goes a long way in explaining the frustration, unpredictability and unreasonable behavior those suffering from dementia commonly express. In many cases, during the earlier stages of the disease, it will often cause the patient to become estranged from his or her family; ironic considering that, in most cases, they will sooner or later become solely dependant upon those they have ignored.

Dementia is not easy to diagnose. Throughout life, we experience short periods of memory loss; forgetting names, directions, or that strange feeling when one steps into a room and suddenly forgets what they went in there for. Even at a young age, we experience this and, quite generally, this is considered to be simply a sign of growing older when it occurs with greater frequency. Throughout the years, it has become the belief that, as one ages, we simply tend to forget things.

Naturally, seeing as how dementia occurs gradually, for the most part, it is difficult to spot in its earliest stages. Quite regularly, it isn’t until more severe symptoms occur that it is really attributed to a form of dementia. Even after that, doctors are usually only able to identify “possible” or “probable” cases of dementia, particularly when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. In case of most forms of dementia, a diagnosis must be determined based on a behavior study, rather than any exact testing; an EEG, brain scan, or tests involving other laboratory instruments cannot verify dementia. In many cases, the only true way of getting an explicit diagnosis is to carry out an autopsy after the person has passed away.

February 11, 2009

Alzheimer’s Disease: How To Define? (2)

When Alzheimer’s occurs, nerve cells generally die in areas of the brain, which are vital to memory and other mental abilities. Many believe that connections between the nerve cells become disrupted; someway, consequently resulting in lower levels of chemicals needed for transmitting signals in the brain. Disrupting these signals would weaken the thinking process of the patient, and may in any case partially explain the forgetfulness so common in Alzheimer’s patients.

Whilst Alzheimer’s disease is known usually occur after age of 60, there are younger people suffering from the condition too. The only exact symptom is the risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise with age, though it is not considered to be the normal part of aging.

But will all of the elderly fall victim to this condition? What might be done to prevent it? It’s believed that there are quite a few factors brought into play, in regards to people contracting this disease. Age is, of course, most essential and the most regular risk factor; the numbers of people who have this disease seem to double every year, beyond the age of 65.

Family history is also play a role in whether or not a person may suffer Alzheimer’s. Those families who suffer from early-onset forms of Alzheimer’s disease tend to see a possibility of a heritable strain, whereas those who suffer from the more ordinary version of Alzheimer’s find it does not seem to be a matter of genetics. So far, the only risk factor has been actively mentioned in relation to the late-onset variety of Alzheimer’s is a gene that is known to create the protein, ApoE (apolipoprotein), a chemical responsible for helping to carry cholesterol in the blood. Extra studies are being carried out, checking to see the effects of education, diet, and environment and how this may also indicate an enlarged chance of the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

There has also been increasing proof that similar risk factors exist, between heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low levels of vitamin foliate, and Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason, scientists continue their studies, optimistic that Alzheimer’s may prove preventable, or at least slowed, through the providing of exercises and healthy diet.

February 04, 2009

Alzheimer’s Disease: How To Define? (1)

Hard to define, Alzheimer’s disease afflicts somewhere between 5 and 15% of people over the age of 65. A progressive disease, grouped as a variety of dementia, it starts out as a few forgotten things here and there and, in time, eventually saps a person of all their memories and skills. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will, quite regularly, forget close friends and family, locations, and even the most basic tasks of life. Sadly, it is the most common of all dementias; it is believed that as many as 4-5 million Americans may suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are generally the same; a progressive lack of memory that eventually comes to interfere with everyday life. An Alzheimer’s patient, in their beginning stages, will commonly exhibit what appear to be normal age-related mistakes - a forgotten name, face, and location. Quite often, they find problems spelling some words or doing math questions. As the condition continues and worsens, the forgetfulness begins to interfere with daily, day-to-day routines and, in some cases, may drive the patient to become anxious or aggressive. Ultimately, there is almost always a need for total care as the victim not only loses memories of who s/he was, but also deteriorates until not even knowing the body’s simplest of functions.

The term ‘disease’ may not be the best to describe Alzheimer’s. Thus far, scientists still do not know what causes this condition. Lumped in with a variety of various dementias, it is considered to be a brain disorder that noticeably affects a person’s ability to carry out daily routines or activities.

Based on behavior and mannerisms, Alzheimer’s cannot be determined by EEG, brain scan or other laboratory instruments and tests. In fact, the only way to give a definite diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is for the brain to be examined for amyloid plaques (abnormal clumps) and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain tissues. Unluckily, this can only be performed post-mortem (after the patient has died). It was the presence of these very same brain abnormalities that Germany’s Dr. Alois Alzheimer noticed, upon examining the brain tissue of a woman who had passed away, following an unusual mental illness in 1906, hence the name of the condition.

January 27, 2009

Main Risks For Alzheimer’s Disease (2)

Generally health has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, and falls under the “preventable” category. If you don’t eat a healthy food, you may be more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease in your later years. Those who smoke tobacco are also at bigger risk, as are those who drink too much amounts of alcohol. Staying socially active is also very important, because social activities exercise your mind. The more exercise you do with both your body and mind, the less likely you are to have Alzheimer’s disease.

The last major connection researchers have found deals with the head and the heart. There is already extremely powerful proof links brain health to heart health. Various heart damages like heart disease, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will inadvertently increase your risk having Alzheimer’s disease. The more damage there is to the heart, in the form of pretty much anything, the weaker you will be against Alzheimer’s disease. The best advice here is to work with your doctor to assure you’re doing all you can do, and live as healthy as possible.

Not unexpectedly, the majority of researchers believe that general health is just as indicative of whether a person will catch Alzheimer’s as genetics is. This is both good news and bad news. The bad news is genetics does factor into Alzheimer’s disease, and that’s uncontrollable. The good news is genetics doesn’t factor in as much as people think, and as long as you are living a healthy lifestyle, you may be able to stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Eat properly, exercise both your mind and your body regularly, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier future.

January 21, 2009

Main Risks For Alzheimer’s Disease (1)

Alzheimer’s is such a disease that you need to plan for right away after the diagnosis. Still, some people enter the early stages of Alzheimer’s without even knowing they have it. The explanation for this is that they either don’t visit the doctor, or don’t realize that they’re at risk for the disease. Whilst doctors still don’t know closely what causes Alzheimer’s, they have narrowed it down. They think Alzheimer’s disease involves either the destruction or malfunction of nerve cells – but they still don’t know why this happens. However, doctors have agreed upon certain factors that may cause Alzheimer’s disease, some preventable, and some not.

The factor most agreed upon risk is age. It’s rather easy for doctors to agree upon this risk factor since the majority of people who have Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Furthermore, the chances of having the disease almost double for every five years after the age of 65. Once person achievees the ripe old age of 85, the risk factor reaches almost fifty percent. Age is one of the unpreventable causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Genetics and family history have always been thought to play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s. Yet, that may be a misguided. Researchers found that the more individuals in a family who have Alzheimer’s, naturally the greater the risk for the rest of the family members. Moreover, people who have either a parent or a sibling with Alzheimer’s were two to three times more vulnerable to the disease. The researchers were able to find the gene practically guarantees that a person will have Alzheimer’s, however, the only gene that is directly responsible has been found in only a few hundred families, and accounts for a small amount of cases. This leads scientists to believe that most Alzheimer’s cases are due to both genetic and non-genetic factors.

Head injuries may play a much bigger factor than expected in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and thankfully it is one of the controllable risks. From what researchers have gathered, there is a very strong link between a major head injury and being at risk for Alzheimer’s. This means that anyone who has played a contact sport such as football or hockey will be more predisposed to Alzheimer’s. Do not misunderstand this as meaning that everyone who’s played a sport will get Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t really matter how you damage your head, as long as it gets banged up Alzheimer’s will have a higher chance of occurring.

January 14, 2009

Manage an Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Depression (2)

You have to know there are others around more than willing to help you out. Such things can range from adult daycare to in-home assistance. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Then, be sure to educate yourself. As Alzheimer’s progresses into the later stages, new skills will become required, and old skills will become more important. Make sure you’re prepared for this change.

It’s important to remember to not only take care of the patient, but to take care of yourself as well. Make sure you’re watching your diet and exercise, and you’re getting plenty of sleep. Give yourself time to do things you enjoy – maybe go out for a round of golf, or go shopping. Just find something isn’t related to being a caregiver. It’s ok to do things for yourself once in a while.

Look out for stress. Stress is the cause of more problems than people expect. The more stressed you are, the more likely you’re to become agitated, and the less likely you are to think clearly. Make sure you’re managing your stress appropriately. Maybe find something like yoga or meditation, or some other form of relaxation technique. The results you can get from following some techniques are insightful.

Be willing to accept changes that may occur in the patient. Sometimes, something may happen, and you alone will not be enough to take care of the situation. That’s ok. It’s ok for a caregiver to ask for help, and it should be willingly available.

Make sure all the legal and financial planning that can possibly be done is finished. If you haven’t already consulted an attorney, then consult one. Do whatever you possibly can, and it’ll free your mind.

As a final point, be realistic, and give yourself some credit. The situation may not be perfect, but you have to understand that you are doing everything in your power to help the patient, and because of it, that patient is living a better life than they usually would. Being a caregiver is not a simple task, and you deserve full credit just for doing it.

January 06, 2009

Manage an Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Depression (1)

Depression is very frequent among caregivers. This is because being a caregiver is a largely thankless job, and it is very hard emotionally. Many different feelings come up while you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s, from stress and annoyance, to guilt and anguish. Unluckily, all of those emotions lead down the same road, and that is a road to depression.

To help keep depression at bay, you must first recognize the different signs of it. If you have four or more of the following symptoms, you should visit a doctor. The first trait general among those that are entering depression is irritability. For example, little things that didn’t use to bug you are starting to. Next, the caregiver may start to feel useless; being that besides helping people, there is very little reward in caring for someone. The caregiver may also start to feel really guilty, believing that they’re not doing enough for the patient. The caregiver’s thoughts may become decidedly darker, delving into things such as suicide. Simple motor skills will become more difficult, and sleep will not come. Sleeplessness is present in a few of those who are depressed. A general stupor may come over the caregiver. Activities that previously were very pleasurable for the caregiver, such as sports, will lose all their charm. The caregiver may have difficulty either thinking or concentrating. Finally, as far as exterior changes go, the caregiver’s need to eat may change dramatically, causing their weight to change.

If the caregiver has depression, they should immediately visit the doctor to work out just what is causing the depression – it may not even be related to the Alzheimer’s patient. But then again, the depression could very well be linked. You have to know what you’re dealing with before you can fight it. Once you know what’s causing it, there are a diversity of ways to treat it, which your doctor will know more about.

Nevertheless, there are some things that you can do before depression strikes. These things you can do to keep yourself happy, and keep depression at bay. We’ll talk about it in the next part of the article.