According to estimates from the Alzheimer’s Association, around 6.2 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s. Worldwide, that stretches to nearly 47 million, but experts predict that could reach 76 million by 2030.
Therefore, the Alzheimer’s Association declares each June to be Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, with the goal of raising awareness of the disease and demonstrating support for those living with any form of dementia. Plus, it offers us a chance to show our thanks to the caregivers that help those living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia continue to live enjoyable lives.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Dementia is a group of neurological conditions characterized by a decline and impairment in at least two brain functions, such as memory or social ability. It’s more of a general term to describe cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s isn’t a form of dementia itself — rather, it’s one of the primary causes. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is responsible for 60-80% of dementia cases.
We naturally lose some cognitive abilities as we age, but neither Alzheimer’s nor dementia are normal parts of aging.
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
Scientists aren’t yet sure about the root cause of Alzheimer’s in most people yet, but they do know one of the immediate causes.
Dense, insoluble clumps called amyloid plaques are one cause. These appear between the brain’s nerve cells and can have toxic effects on these cells.
The other cause is neurofibrillary tangles. These occur when the tau protein threads in the brain’s nerve cells twist and tangle, making it hard for the brain to transport nutrients, molecules, and information throughout the brain’s cells.
Living With a Loved One Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s
Here are some quick tips for living with a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
1. Don’t Try to Argue
Someone with Alzheimer’s may make false statements, but keep in mind that they legitimately believe these are true. Their brain no longer functions in the same way that it’s used to. As long as the false statement your loved one makes won’t bring harm to themselves or someone else, it’s best to let it go.
2. Don’t Show Anger or Frustration
Similar to the last point, don’t show you’re upset. Remember, your loved one cannot help it. If you feel emotions rising, step back and take several deep breaths. Leave the room for a few minutes if you’re able to in order to calm down if it helps.
3. Set a Daily Routine
A great way to help your loved one deal with memory loss is to provide structure by creating a daily routine. That way, they’ll have a better chance of knowing what happens and when throughout the day.
4. Look at Distant Memories With Them
Memories further back in the past generally aren’t affected much by Alzheimer’s. Spend some time with your loved one flipping through old photo albums, watching family videos, or recounting past experiences.
This is a fun activity for everyone in the family and helps your loved one maintain a strong connection with them.
5. Help Them Enjoy Existing Hobbies and Interests
Many people with Alzheimer’s are still able to socialize and exercise quite late into the disease’s progression. Encourage your loved ones to continue doing their favorite activities, as it can provide a fun outlet with such a stressful condition.
Learning new things might be tough for people with Alzheimer’s, but they often can still enjoy their existing hobbies and interests.
Helping your loved one with Alzheimer’s is challenging and can be emotionally draining — but that’s what Angels on Call is here for. We have friendly home care agents and skilled home health professionals available to provide customer care that allows your loved ones to enjoy their lives despite the circumstances. Contact us today to learn more.