Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that leads to behavior, thinking and memory problems. It is the most common form of dementia and it is also the sixth leading cause of death in US. Alzheimer’s is a sad, debilitating disease for both the person suffering with the disease as well as their loved ones. The month of November is recognized as Alzheimer’s Awareness month, so to help you be aware of the disease, here are common symptoms of this disease as well as tips for caregivers.
One of the most important things about Alzheimer’s disease is being aware of the symptoms. Being aware of the symptoms will allow you to identify them earlier, so you can seek medical help sooner. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s worsen over time; eventually coming to a point where the person is no longer able to accomplish daily tasks. In the early stages of the disease, memory problems are generally mild; however, as the disease progresses, the individual becomes unaware of their environment and may no longer be able to carry on a conversation. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s often include:
- Memory loss, especially current dates and events.
- Difficulties planning and/or solving problems, for instance you may notice your loved one taking longer to complete tasks that they used be able to complete quicker.
- Confusion with place and/or time, for instance they often forget where they are, how they got there and how long they have been there.
- Misplacing objects is a common symptom early in the disease. For instance, they may frequently misplace their eyeglasses and in some situations, they may accuse others of stealing the item they are looking for.
- Changes in mood and personality-those with Alzheimer’s often become confused, depressed and suspicious of others. You may also notice major shifts in their personality and mood.
- Wandering away is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s, especially as the disease progresses. If you are noticing this, it is important to monitor your loved one at all times to reduce the risk of injury or them getting lost.
Tips for Caregivers
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however, there several things you can do to help your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, especially if the disease is in the early stages.
- Maintain a daily routine - not changing their daily routine will help to avoid confusion and allow them to know what is expected. The majority of Alzheimer’s patients are more comfortable with routines.
- Avoid over-stimulation - it is best to keep conversations and tasks as straightforward as possible. For instance, only present them with one idea at a time to allow better understanding and to respond the best of their ability.
- Be positive and reassuring - it is extremely important to make your loved one feel comfortable and safe. In many situations, simply repeating the words “you are safe here” is enough to help them feel at ease.
- Do not yell, argue or cause undue irritation-it is common to become frustrated with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease, but it is extremely important to imagine how they feel. There is basically mass confusion going on inside of their head, they are scared and confused. So, do not raise your voice, argue or make them feel uncomfortable in any way. It is important to be the calming voice they need.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be stressful, frustrating and even leave you feeling isolated. It is extremely important for your loved one as well as for the caregiver to take care of yourself as well. If you, as the caregiver, become ill from the stress, it will only make the situation worse for the both of you. Seek outside help when possible. There are in-home care providers, like us, that are trained to help with Alzheimer’s patients, which is beneficial for you as well as your loved one.