Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with mental decline severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Of the 5.4 million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease, an estimated 5.2 million of them are age 65 and older. Women comprise about 66 percent of all reported cases. Without break through medical prevention and a cure, the number of older adults with Alzheimer’s is expected to almost triple to a staggering 13.8 million by 2050. By the middle of this century, it is projected that every 33 seconds, one more person in the United States will develop Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s symptoms start with mild memory loss, and late-stage Alzheimer’s progresses to the inability to converse with others and respond to one’s surroundings. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.” While worldwide research advancements continue for better treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s and other dementia, presently medications and brain health supplements are largely ineffective.
But addressing basic risk factors for poor cognitive health including high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, poor nutrition and social withdrawal may help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Better self-care and targeted medical treatment for these underlying conditions are particularly important for aging adults.
“Alzheimer’s disease eventually affects a person’s ability to dress, bath, eat and manage other everyday tasks,” said Cathy Queen RN, Owner of Right at Home of the Rivercities.. “Many family caregivers are not prepared or trained for the specialized dementia care their loved one needs. With knowledgeable care assistance, however, people with Alzheimer’s can continue to live rewarding lives, and live in their own homes, for many years after diagnosis.”
Mrs.Queen notes that two-thirds of family caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients are women and a third of all Alzheimer’s family caregivers are age 65 and older. In 2016, nearly 18 million American families and friend caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can create a toll on family members’ physical health, emotional well-being and financial stability. Almost 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers consider themselves as highly stressed emotionally.
A strong support network and learning the specialized needs of Alzheimer’s disease patients can improve the day-to-day quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and family caregivers during each stage of the disease. For information on Alzheimer’s support groups, programs and resources, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org or 1-800-272-3900, or the Alzheimer’s division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services at alzheimers.acl.gov or 1-877-696-6775.
Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
About Right at Home
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Local Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, and bonded/insured prior to entering a client’s home. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with franchise offices located in 45 states nationwide and throughout the world. For more information on Right at Home, visit About Right at Home at http://www.rightathome.net/about-us or read the Right at Home caregiving blog at http://www.rightathome.net/blog. To sign up for Right at Home’s free adult caregiving e-newsletter, Caring Right at Home, visit http://caringnews.com.
About Right at Home of the Rivercities
The Rivercities office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., serving the Tri-State area. For more information, contact Right at Home of The RiverCities, www.rahrivercities.com 304-453-4663 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Queen recommends the following tips to help ensure home caregiving is a life-enriching, positive experience for family members and their ill loved one:
• Be aware of your own emotional challenges as your loved one mentally changes. As Alzheimer’s progresses, family caregivers face a jumble of sadness, fear and uncertainty. Recognizing the ups and downs of dementia caregiving is essential to sustained health for those extending care.
• Rely regularly on a team of helpers. From medical professionals to home healthcare providers, Alzheimer’s caregivers benefit from enlisting the support of dementia-care resources.
• Safeguard your need for breaks. Planned respite care keeps you refreshed and ready to serve your loved one with greater patience and compassion.
• Make use of Alzheimer’s home therapies including pets, visual and creative arts (e.g., adult coloring, painting, drawing, etc.), and aromatherapy.
• Encourage your loved one to socialize by helping them participate in community, social and church events, since societal withdrawal increases the likelihood for depression in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
• Focus on the individual and not the disease or disability. Extending dignity and improving the quality of life is important in assisting Alzheimer’s patients. It may help to verbalize to your loved one, “This disease is not your fault and I am here for you as we walk through this together.”
• Learn to respond rather than react. Be attuned to your loved one’s emotional state and body language. Engage in the moment and listen with empathy. Simplify communication by rephrasing responses using an even tone and cadence. Use short, simple words and sentences, and ask questions one at a time. For example, “Mom, which of these two cereals would you like?”
• Educate yourself on managing dementia behavior problems. To encourage less resistance, agitation and withdrawal, help your loved one feel as normal and familiar with the home setting as possible. Look for ways to eliminate distractions and confusing situations. If wandering is an issue, try to understand why your loved one wants to roam (such as to hunt for an object) and restrict outside access and install safety alarms if needed. Overall, it’s important to help those with Alzheimer’s sense little is changing in his or her life.
In our Tri-State area the 2017 local walks are scheduled:
• Ashland, KY on September 30th
• Huntington, WV on September 9th
• Portsmouth, OH on September 23rd