Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that impacts the brain and leads to cognitive declines, memory loss, and changes in behavior. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common forms of dementia, typically affecting seniors. However, while it is rare, adults can also be affected by Alzheimer’s as early as age 40 or 50.
While the exact causes of Alzheimer’s are not entirely known, there is a strong link between Alzheimer’s and a variety of known environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors. The main physiological characteristics of Alzheimer’s include abnormal protein deposits in the brain that interfere with normal brain cell function.
Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disease, affected seniors can also experience extreme memory loss that severely limits their ability to complete daily tasks independently. As the disease progresses, seniors with Alzheimer’s often require 24/7 care in a safe, supportive environment like memory care.
Memory care is a specialized care program designed to meet the specific safety, cognitive, and quality of life needs of seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Understanding Alzheimer’s and memory care plans and treatment available can help make choosing a memory care facility for a family member or loved one with Alzheimer’s feel far less overwhelming.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s symptoms tend to vary and can be unique to each individual impacted by this disease, but some of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
Seniors with Alzheimer’s struggle to remember information they’ve learned recently. They also often forget important dates and events in their lives or those of their families and loved ones. Those affected with Alzheimer’s often rely heavily on reminders from family members or memory aids to keep track of daily information.
Alzheimer’s can make it challenging for seniors to think clearly, apply reason in everyday situations, and solve problems. They also struggle with concentration, planning, and organization.
Those affected by Alzheimer’s have trouble with language and often stumble over words, have issues finding the words they need to express themselves, and struggle to follow along in conversations. Writing and reading difficulties may also present as the disease progresses.
Disorientation and Loss of Familiarity
Seniors with Alzheimer’s often get lost, even in once-familiar places, and are easily confused with times, dates, and locations. They may also begin having difficulty recognizing objects or faces of people they know.
Alzheimer’s disease also impacts judgment; those affected typically have difficulty making decisions, making them more susceptible to fraud and scams.
Changes in Personality and Behavior
Alzheimer’s can lead to extreme mood changes, agitation, anxiety, and depression. Changes in personality and a loss of interest in hobbies or personal interests can also occur.
Inability to Complete Daily Care and Hygiene Routines
Seniors with Alzheimer’s often become unable to care for themselves, neglect their hygiene, forget to eat meals or drink water, and need help doing daily activities and tasks they once managed independently.
Alzheimer’s vs Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are closely related. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. However, the two have important distinctions regarding definition, causes, progression, prevalence, and treatment:
Dementia is a broad term that describes a collection of symptoms affecting cognition, including memory, communication, and thinking skills. Dementia is not a defined disease but a set of distinct cognitive symptoms caused by an underlying condition.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive memory loss, cognitive decline, and behavioral changes.
Dementia can occur due to various conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, and others. Each different type of dementia has its own set of pathology and underlying causes.
Alzheimer’s disease occurs when abnormal protein structures such as beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles accumulate in the brain. While the causes of Alzheimer’s are still not fully known and understood, research has shown that genetics and environment play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s later in life.
The progression of dementia tends to vary depending on the underlying cause of this memory-impairing condition. The pace of progression is also often unique to each individual affected by dementia. Some seniors’ dementia progresses very suddenly and quickly, while progression in others happens slowly over many years.
Alzheimer’s disease is progressive and will typically progress gradually over time. As time passes, symptoms will generally worsen, beginning with signs of memory loss and progressing into cognitive function declines and challenges with daily care and life activities.
Dementia is a condition that is prevalent worldwide, and it affects millions of seniors around the globe. The likelihood of dementia increases with age, so the prevalence of this condition is highest in the senior population.
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is also the most prevalent cause of cognitive decline in the aging adult population. Worldwide, it’s estimated that over 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment & Care
Dementia care treatments vary depending on the underlying cause and state of progression. In some cases, treating the underlying cause can help slow or minimize the dementia symptoms to slow progression. In other cases, memory care is necessary to manage care and monitor cognitive wellness safely.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, memory treatment options are available to slow the progression of the disease, such as cognitive training, medication, and supportive memory care to safely manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and foster socialization and skills.
An important point of clarification in understanding the differences between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is that while Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, not all cases of dementia are caused by Alzheimer’s. An accurate diagnosis requires a comprehensive medical evaluation to understand what is causing dementia fully.
Is Alzheimer’s Good for Memory Care?
Memory care is advantageous for Alzheimer’s care and treatments due to the following important considerations for this specialized type of care:
Highly Specialized and Personalized Environment
Memory care facilities provide a safe, secure environment specially designed to help minimize confusion and disorientation for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Memory care centers usually have memory aids in place to help residents identify areas of the facility and clear signage to help them find their way about.
There is often a color-coding system for hallways to help seniors navigate to various parts of the center throughout the day. These efforts help foster independence and promote security and safety for seniors with Alzheimer’s living in memory care.
Expertly Trained and Compassionate Staff
Memory care facilities employ compassionate and expertly trained staff members with expertise in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s. This is very important because residents living with Alzheimer’s have unique care needs, and it’s vital that staff understand how to care for them and provide support alongside the confusion and behavior changes common to the disease.
Personalized, Need-Based Care Plans and Routines
Memory care professionals craft personalized care plans for each Alzheimer’s resident that cater to individual needs, cognitive abilities, personality, and personal history. Personalized care plans allow for more independence, socialization activities, and expert care at the level each senior needs to maintain a high quality of life.
Family structures are always impacted when a loved member has Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care facilities offer family support and resources to help family members, including:
- Alzheimer’s education
- Coping strategies
- Emotional support
- Peace of mind
Warning Signs That a Senior With Alzheimer’s Needs Memory Care
Because Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, symptoms that may seem like typical aspects of aging at first can progress so that seniors can no longer safely care for themselves independently. It’s essential to understand the warning signs that Alzheimer’s disease is progressing to the point that memory care would be the safest and most beneficial place for your family or loved one.
Frequent Episodes of Memory Loss
One of the first warning signs that a senior with Alzheimer’s may need a memory care program is frequent bouts of memory loss that progressively worsen and become more prolonged and severe. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may ask repetitive questions, need frequent reminders, forget very recent conversations or stories, or even begin to lose details about their lives.
Daily Task Difficulties
Seniors affected by Alzheimer’s often begin experiencing challenges completing familiar daily routines such as cleaning, cooking, daily hygiene, and taking medications on schedule. These difficulties can indicate that memory care is needed to ensure their safety and well-being.
Frequent Confusion and Disorientation
Alzheimer’s disease causes disorientation and confusion, which can be heightened due to changes in their environment or during times of change or transition. Seniors with Alzheimer’s often get confused or lost in familiar places or situations, have issues recognizing once-familiar faces or items, and forget where they are. Memory care provides a safe environment with structured routines to help best manage these symptoms for safety and quality of life.
Mood and Personality Changes
Another symptom of Alzheimer’s is significant changes in an affected senior’s mood or behavior. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may suddenly become irritated, angry, anxious, or depressed in response to memory loss, and some individuals may display aggression or complete social withdrawal. Memory care facilities have trained staff who can help seniors with Alzheimer’s safely manage these emotional changes in a supportive environment.
Safety Issues or Concerns
Alzheimer’s is a disease marked by progressive declines in cognition. As time goes by, it’s possible that seniors with Alzheimer’s can become a danger to themselves due to loss of cognition and memory. Memory care is a safe, structured care option for individuals exhibiting concerning behaviors in daily life.
This includes forgetting to turn off appliances, leaving stove burners on after cooking a meal, wandering away from home, or getting lost in once-familiar places. Memory care facilities offer specialized safety measures and supervision to prevent accidents and ensure the well-being of seniors with Alzheimer’s.
Judgment and Decision-Making Declines
Alzheimer’s can impair cognition and impact judgment and decision-making skills. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may demonstrate poor judgment in handling finances, fall victim to known scams or fraud schemes, or make unsafe choices about their health and well-being. Memory care can provide the necessary support and guidance to help seniors with Alzheimer’s make safe, appropriate decisions.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, affected seniors may struggle to communicate with others or express their thoughts clearly. This affectation of Alzheimer’s can manifest in seniors having difficulty finding words, holding a conversation coherently, or following instructions. Memory care facilities have staff members trained in effective communication techniques to engage with seniors with Alzheimer’s and enhance their quality of life.
Significant Sleep Pattern Changes
Alzheimer’s disease often causes substantial disruptions in sleep quality and patterns. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may struggle with falling asleep at night, waking up frequently, or being drowsy and tired in the daytime. Sleep is vital for cognitive function, and memory care facilities can provide a structured routine and environment conducive to promoting healthy sleep habits.
Lost Interest in Hobbies
Seniors with Alzheimer’s may begin to lose interest in activities and hobbies they once loved, including recreational, social, or intellectual interests that were once important in their daily lives and routines. Memory care facilities offer specialized programs and activities tailored to the needs and capabilities of individuals with Alzheimer’s, promoting cognitive stimulation and social interaction.
Memory Care Programs and Services for Alzheimer’s
The signs and progression of Alzheimer’s disease can vary among seniors affected by this disease. Consulting with Alzheimer’s care specialists and healthcare professionals for an assessment will help guide your decision on whether your family member or loved one needs memory care.
At Vivante Memory Care and Assisted Living facility, we offer award-winning memory care programs that are thoughtfully individualized to the exact needs and conditions of each senior with Alzheimer’s in our care. Our expert staff provides daily care and assistance, organizes and leads cognitive wellness activities and therapies, and works closely with families and loved ones of our residents to preserve cognitive health and celebrate life stories in memory care.
Contact Us today and see how our services can benefit you and your loved ones.