Throughout November, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness about this devastating form of dementia. Since the creation of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in 1984, the number of people with Alzheimer’s in the United States has more than doubled, from 2 to 5.4 million. By 2050, an estimated 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s.
As the epidemic continues, it’s more important than ever for people across the country to educate themselves on the risks and signs of this degenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that often strikes the elderly. A third of older Americans die with some form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common form. Deaths related to Alzheimer’s are increasing, with an 89 percent leap from 2000 to 2014. America’s aging population means the number of people with Alzheimer’s will only increase. Identifying the disease’s symptoms early on can help ensure seniors get the best treatment possible to mitigate its effects.
There are many warning signs that a senior in your life may be developing Alzheimer’s. Symptoms vary but may include the following:
- Difficulty communicating or problem-solving.
- Memory loss.
- Confusion or difficulty with complicated tasks.
- Problems thinking ahead or planning.
- Reduced coordination or spatial abilities.
- Paranoia or hallucinations.
These symptoms can manifest in many ways. A person with any form of dementia might experience anxiety or depression, agitation, or inappropriate behavior. It’s common for a person with Alzheimer’s to exhibit personality changes. This can be incredibly hard on a person’s loved ones, as they watch the person they knew for years begin to change in often difficult ways.
Alzheimer’s Disease vs Dementia
Many people use the term “dementia” as if it’s a specific disease. However, dementia is more of a description than a diagnosis. That’s because the term “dementia” describes several symptoms, all of which contribute to a decline in mental ability. A number of diseases may be responsible for this degeneration, including Alzheimer’s Disease.
Just because a person develops dementia doesn’t necessarily mean they have Alzheimer’s; however, Alzheimer’s accounts for between 60 and 80 percent of dementia cases. This makes it crucial to seek a diagnosis as soon as signs of dementia begin to appear.
It’s not yet clear what determines a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Age is the most significant known risk factor, with the chance of developing Alzheimer’s doubling every five years after 65. After 85, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s reaches over 30 percent. Genetics is also a factor. Those with a close family member who developed Alzheimer’s are at a higher risk of developing it themselves. A previous traumatic brain injury can also have an impact on a person’s risk factors.
The idea that dementia is an inevitable part of aging is a common misconception. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. With Alzheimer’s, this occurs through a buildup of proteins that form plaques around brain cells. Sometimes these proteins can even develop in young people, causing younger-onset Alzheimer’s. The hippocampus, which stores and processes memory, is often the brain’s first area to suffer. It’s not clear what causes these proteins to form, and there is currently no cure.
Alzheimer’s Hits Families Hard
Most often, a family member or spouse will be the first to notice the changes. As memory loss and personality changes set in, family caregivers looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s face a challenging path ahead. Many caregivers experience intense stress and guilt over the course of looking after a family member — not to mention the anguish of watching a loved one decline.
Alzheimer’s Disease exacts a heavy toll on family caregivers’ time as well as emotions. Unpaid caregivers provided 18.4 billion hours of care in 2018 alone, at a value of over $232 billion. Caregivers must often put their careers and lives on hold to devote time to a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you already have a lot on your shoulders. Having an in-home caregiver to help out can provide a much-needed respite from the difficulties of Alzheimer’s care. A caregiver can provide temporary care for one or more days, either on an as-needed or recurring basis. Getting a break from the challenges of being a caregiver lets you focus more on making the most of the time you have with your loved one.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.