Anyone who’s watched or read The Notebook would have a basic idea of what Alzheimer’s is. For those who don’t, here is a little something to help you out in identifying it, and also provide some tips as to how to care for people who have Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible brain disease; a form of dementia which affect memory retention, thinking and eventually causes difficulties carrying out everyday tasks as well as behaviour problems. This means that over time, someone suffering from Alzheimer’s would face challenges in all of their cognitive functions (brain and thinking functions), including language abilities. A disease that is most common amongst elderly people aged over 65 years, it is also to be kept in mind that there are rare cases of people in their late twenties who may have Alzheimer’s.
The major and telling symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is that of memory loss; things such as word finding, vision and depth perception problems, as well as problems in reasoning and processing information are common. At the mild stage of Alzheimer’s, people may face problems such as getting lost, challenges with handling money, taking longer than usual to complete a task, along with confusion and mood changes. At a moderate stage, the problems intensify and people may have difficulty recognising loved ones, as well as have some hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. When the disease becomes more severe, communication becomes difficult and patients are entirely dependent on external care, and soon the body would shut down.
If you are concerned about someone who you think may have Alzheimer’s, approach a doctor for their medical diagnosis. Once diagnosed, dealing with the care for such a patient is not an easy task. When someone seems to be showing signs of memory loss, assist them through the remembering process; offer a guess, limit distraction but at the same time avoid correcting or criticising them. At times such as these, it may also help to promote the use of unspoken communication such as gestures and pointing at objects.
It is extremely important to avoid arguments and instead create a comfortable and understanding environment. At the same time, your own communication with the ones you are caring for should be simple, slow and short, so as to ensure their easy understanding. When required, waiting patiently for a response or repeating something may be required. Instead of asking questions, suggest or implicitly provide ideas. For example, instead of “Would you like some water?”, you could say something like “There’s a glass of water right here”.
“Communication and Alzheimer’s – Caregiver Center”. Alzheimer’s and Communication. Alzheimer’s Association, n.d. Web. 22 July 2014. <http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp>.
“About Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s Basics.” National Institute on Aging, n.d. Web. 20 July 2014. <http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/alzheimers-basics>.