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Understanding Alzheimer's And Dementia

February 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 130

Wondering what the difference is between dementia and Alzheimer's?

The terms "Alzheimer's" and "dementia" are commonly interchanged, but they are different. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a form of dementia.

"Dementia" pertains to a person who cannot function on their own due to the loss of mental abilities affecting memory, logical reasoning or the ability to maintain daily focus. The cause may be from a minor to severe stroke or head trauma (there is a very small portion of Alzheimer's that is hereditary). Common dementias include Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease dementia and of course, Alzheimer's (originally called presenile dementia—first identified by Dr. Alois Alzheimer) which is the most common dementia in adult seniors.

Evidence of Alzheimer surfaces after age 60, but some cases have been reported as early as age 30. The risk of having Alzheimer's increases with age, so a 90 year-old adult has a 40% chance of being affected. It has also been noted that symptoms can take up to 15 years before they are outwardly noticed. The cause of Alzheimer's is not totally understood, however we do know it to be a disease that causes abnormal changes in the brain, affecting memory and normal mental function. Memory loss is typically the first noticeable sign of early-stage Alzheimer's as well as other forms of dementia. The middle-stage begins with the loss of one's ability to make decisions, problem solve and communicate—making it difficult, if not dangerous, to live alone.

Most studies show that there is no known cure or prevention of AD but since mini strokes are elevated in those with Alzheimer's, a healthy lifestyle could have a positive effect. Proper eating habits with larger amounts of fruits and vegetables along with a good dose of exercise are considered good ways to deter most forms of disease. Other healthy choices would be to quit smoking, watch your cholesterol and avoid diabetes or keep it under control. Brain-games are also considered to be of value along with a good social life. None of these habits have been documented, but there is some evidence to suggest that it could at least slow the progression down.

So now what? There are medications for early-stage Alzheimer's which have proven to be beneficial for memory improvement, some are patches for those who have trouble swallowing pills. They are not effective for everyone and are limited to the early and middle stages of AD. There are also medications to reduce anxiety and aggression, mostly needed for middle stage AD, which also treat depression and improve sleep. Studies are ongoing to search for a cure, but to date all that is available are medications to slow down the progress slightly and to calm behavior outburst.

Further research is being done on non-medical treatments for all stages of Alzheimer's patients. Because patients display a large amount of stress and anxiety, caregivers are often frustrated when dealing with daily eruptions. Studies have been conducted with AD and dementia patients in the field of ergonomics: the science of creating an environment that reduces mental and physical stress. OSHA and NIOSH along with other scientists have changed industrial and business environments to lower stress, increase cognitive skills and lower accidents for workers. The same science-referred to as Behavior-Based Ergonomics therapies (BBE) has been introduced to address the particular triggers of cognitive stress by providing customized interventions to redirect and engage patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. The results have been significant enough to note: medications have lowered, sleep is less erratic and behavioral issues have decreased. This helps improve the quality of life for AD patient and the caregiver's too. Although there is still much to be done in the research of Alzheimer's care, this is a major milestone.

Being the primary caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's and dementia can become very stressful. The most important thing to remember is that Alzheimer's has changed who they are now and that if you want to connect with them you have to get to where THEY are, not where you want them to be. Setting the stage for communication is very important; be positive and caring, they can read your body language. Reduce distractions; de-clutter the house, turn off the TV when they are not watching it. Communicate with them by name; be reassuring, touch their hand or shoulder, remind them of who you are and how much you care. Use simple words and sentences and listen to them intensely. Above all, try remembering for them. Go through photo albums and talk about the people in the photo and about the occasion, they might remember more than you do. Find things for them to do that have an end, working large child puzzles, stacking toys, even coloring. The feeling of accomplishment has meaning for them.

When it becomes too stressful for you as a caregiver to continue care for your loved one, know that you are not alone. As an Alzheimer patient progresses deeper into the disease, it requires more attention than what one person can give. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many Memory Care facilities for Alzheimer's as well as community organizations to lend a hand.

10 Wilmington Place offers advanced Alzheimer's patient care in Dayton Ohio. We encourage you to evaluate the resources available to you. Compare what we have to offer to know you're making the right choice. We offer a full continuum of care retirement community - independent living, assisted living and of course memory care.

Source: EzineArticles
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