Because of our busy lives and fast-paced environments, we often forget about older people we care about and don’t really take the time to think about the potential diseases that come with age. According to the latest statistics provided by the Alzheimer’s association, there are currently five million Americans living with the Alzheimer’s disease and this number increases every year.
Having a senior in the family that develops Alzheimer’s is an overwhelming experience and a great emotional toll for every family member. Right before the disease starts progressing, many patients go through behavioral changes and severe mood swings or even start showing first symptoms of depression, anxiety, or lethargy. It’s hard to watch a person completely shut down in front of your eyes while you stay completely helpless. The memory loss and disorientation make it even more crushing. However, knowledge is power: by getting to know the nature of this disease, you can react in time and help with prevention, as well as help your elderly relatives that may already be patients in slowing down the disease and handling it properly.
Understanding Alzheimer’s and Debunking the Causes
Alzheimer’s is probably the best known and most common form of dementia. It usually progresses gradually with time as symptoms worsen: from initial problems with memory and cognitive processes to complete inability to recognize closest people or even their own identities. Scientists have determined it’s closely linked to seniors (65 years and up) and the risk factor is higher with age. It can be more aggressive: one person can rapidly get to the last-stage of the disease when they lose important intellectual abilities (such as engaging in a conversation) or stops reacting to stimulus from their surroundings. Unfortunately, scientists don’t yet fully understand what are the exact causes of the disease. There has been significant research about normal brain aging and the results help with understanding the deviations linked to the Alzheimer’s. The causes are usually explained as a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The disease damages or kills brain cells and weakens the existing connections between surviving cells.
Communicating with the Person with Alzheimer’s
One of the biggest challenges when trying to help a person with Alzheimer’s is to stay emotionally stable and make the best of the situation. If being a caregiver becomes too overwhelming, you can always turn to professionals in home care while you work on your own patience and interpersonal skills. At times, it will require extraordinary strength just to have a regular conversation with the person: however, Honor experts say that communication is crucial for maintaining the healthiest possible relationship even though it can be challenging and exhausting. As a caregiver, you need to accept the fact your loved one is slowly losing their ability to communicate clearly or remember what you’ve said just a few seconds ago. Prepare yourself in advance so you avoid feeling frustrated. Always address your loved one with their personal name and avoid using pronouns as they can be confusing. Try your best to be an active listener and remember to be tolerant.
Spending Quality Time Together
Although it can be devastating to watch the person you love decline in mental health, this shouldn’t be a reason to give up on her. The person you care about is still there somewhere so love and kindness you show matters. Medical experts say that when a patient reaches the phase in which he doesn’t recognize the people around him – it’s more complex than that. Sometimes, there can be sudden flashes of sanity and clarity where your loved one actually recovers for a short period of time. Other times, they might be able to recognize you but unable to communicate that. There are lots of activities you can enjoy together: from taking a light walk and spending a day in nature to signing up for a cooking class. Art therapy can also be a nice solution as it can enhance one’s quality of life by suppressing the symptoms and promoting better overall mood.
New Findings and Prevention
Although we cannot yet put a finger on the exact reasons why some people get Alzheimer’s and others don’t, there are things you can do to prevent the disease. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed a correlation between glucose levels and dementia while diabetes was classified as a risk factor. Regular exercise can help with reducing the chances of getting the disease up to 50%. Keep your brain in shape too: constant learning and other mental stimuli are advisable. De-stressing and high-quality sleep is also a good way to promote good health. Balanced nutrition is a must: from omega 3-fats, fruits and vegetables to green tea and cutting out sugar.
Handling a person with Alzheimer’s is hard and you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help or additional support. Some say that incorporating a bit of humor is healthy and you shouldn’t shy away from moments when something funny happens: there is nothing inappropriate about it. Life is bittersweet and it takes time to fully accept this fact.