What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Dementia

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that most commonly affects people over the age of 65. The condition causes brain cells to shrink and die off, leading to dementia symptoms such as forgetfulness and confusion. As the disease progresses, people may find it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks. Providing individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease a safe, nurturing environment to live in is important, and that’s what we offer at Cedar Creek Memory Care Homes.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that causes confusion, forgetfulness and difficulty with communication and movement. It’s the most common cause of dementia and typically found in elderly individuals, but it can affect younger people as well.

It’s normal for the brain to shrink slightly during the aging process, but healthy aging doesn’t involve the loss of large numbers of nerve cells. People who develop Alzheimer’s disease experience damage to the connections between parts of the brain involved with memory, language and reasoning. A buildup of something in the brain called amyloid plaques disrupts communication between neurons, eventually leading to the death of those neurons.

How Common Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

An estimated 6.9 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This figure includes those who are showing mild memory problems and those with far more severe cognitive difficulties.

Coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be difficult. At Cedar Creek, we offer memory care services to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease retain their independence and live in a safe, supportive and comfortable environment.

 

what does Alzheimer's do to the brain

 

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, and the early symptoms are sometimes dismissed as a normal part of getting older. Early recognition of the condition can help people plan for the future and make it easier for them to access support that might help slow the progress of the condition.

Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Early symptoms include general forgetfulness and confusion. Individuals may show simple signs of memory loss, such as:

  • Forgetting recent conversations
  • Losing items
  • Having difficulty finding their words
  • Having impaired reasoning
  • Asking repetitive questions
  • Becoming anxious or confused

Other symptoms of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease include poor judgment and being hesitant to try new things.

Mental Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

As the disease develops, these memory problems become more severe — to the point that people may lose track of time, become confused and find it hard to navigate familiar places. They may even struggle to recognize familiar faces.

Other symptoms include disturbed sleep, mood swings and difficulty judging distances. These symptoms affect a person’s ability to drive safely, cook and perform other day-to-day tasks.

Physical Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Severe Alzheimer’s disease can affect a person’s motor control, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty moving around unaided
  • Loss of speech

Behavioral Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Some individuals with Alzheimer’s disease experience hallucinations and confusion. It’s common for them to feel anxious, scared or paranoid. In some cases, people with Alzheimer’s disease experience violent outbursts.

Delusional episodes may come and go, with the individual having good and bad days. Having a regular routine and living in a calming environment can help reduce, but not always eliminate these symptoms.

Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Symptoms

As Alzheimer’s worsens, the individual may require full-time care and support and be unable to perform basic personal care tasks. Having support from trained caregivers who can assist with personal care while maintaining your loved one’s dignity is essential.

At Cedar Creek, our caregivers can support those with symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Our homes are designed with people with severe or moderate Alzheimer’s in mind, ensuring a safe, calming environment.

We maintain a daytime resident-to-staff ratio of 3:1 and offer regular structured activities designed with our residents’ cognitive abilities and interests in mind. Our residents are given the support and attention they need to live a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Several things are considered to be risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Among the list of Alzheimer’s causes are genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. For example, someone is at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if there’s a family history of the condition.

Other risk factors may include a history of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or obesity. However, the link between these factors is unclear and the subject of ongoing research. Living a healthy lifestyle could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Disease Stages

What Are the Stages of Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly and can last for more than a decade. Physicians have defined five stages of Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. People in this stage of the disease typically show no signs or symptoms. The condition is usually only identified in a research setting or clinical trial. This stage can last for decades.
  2. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s. During early Alzheimer’s disease, a person may score more poorly on cognitive tests and notice the first symptoms of cognitive decline. They might struggle to remember small pieces of information or judge how long a task would take. The memory loss at this stage isn’t usually enough to affect a person’s work or personal relationships.
  3. Mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s. At this stage, a person may show changes in their thinking skills or personality and have difficulty communicating clearly. Other symptoms of mild dementia include misplacing things or getting lost even in a previously familiar place.
  4. Moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, a person will show more severe dementia symptoms to the point that they may need help with day-to-day activities and self-care. They may struggle to recognize friends and family members.
  5. Severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s. This is the most serious of the Alzheimer’s stages. A person at this stage of the condition may be unable to walk without assistance and may require full-time personal care support.

The care team at Cedar Creek is able to provide specialized care for residents with all stages of Alzheimer’s and related dementias and will tailor the care to the individual’s requirements.

 

How is Alzheimer's disease diagnosed

 

Support for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s at the moment, early diagnosis can still be beneficial. There are drugs that can help slow the progression of the condition, and with proper support, many people with early-stage Alzheimer’s are able to retain a high quality of life.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be demanding, and those with more severe symptoms may need a higher level of care than a family member can provide. At Cedar Creek, we offer long-term and respite care for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Whether you need a short-term break or simply want to know your loved one is in a home where they’ll receive skilled care, we’re here to help.

Moving Forward With Cedar Creek

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that can last for many years and lead to a person requiring extensive care and support. If someone close to you has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, know that help is available. Contact Cedar Creek online or call us at (301) 384-4017 to talk to our care team about our personalized approach to dementia care.

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