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Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Care at The Legacy

Alzheimer's disease, as defined by the Alzheimer's Association, is "a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills." It differs than dementia, although many people think they are the same thing. It is reported that more than 50 million people across the globe live with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a more general term used to describe a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's is a type of dementia, the most common one in fact, with up to 80 percent of dementia cases being diagnosed as Alzheimer's.

Dementia is causes by damage to the brain cells, rendering them unable to communicate with each other. This disruption of brain communication affects thinking, feelings and behavior.

Some risk factors like age and genetics can't be changed and do play a role in the onset of dementia. Researchers are presently looking for risk reduction and prevention as they relate to cardiovascular health, diet and exercise and how they interact with the supply of blood to the brain.

Doctors and researchers continue to search for links and clues as to what causes dementia. Some forms are reversible (those related to medication side effects, thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies) but others (like those caused by a stroke) are not. While there is no definitive agent, what they do know is dementia is not a natural part of aging. Someone "going senile" because they are of advanced age is a misnomer and quite inaccurate.

What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease, as we stated earlier, is the most common form of dementia. The disease is progressive, moving through three stages as the symptoms worsen. Over time, the disease causes people to lose their ability to respond to their environment.

Alzheimer's disease changes the way the brain works and responds to information. Every person is different in how the disease progresses. The first changes in the brain begin without any noticeable signs. This is called the "preclinical" stage and can start many years before any visible symptoms appear.

Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

While we still do not know the exact reason or cause of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, research is putting pieces of the puzzle together. This gives us warning signs and things to look for in both ourselves and in our loved ones. There is no cure, but there are medications that can slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease. It is critical to speak with your doctor immediately if you believe there are signs of Alzheimer's or dementia present.

Here are a few of the signs to watch for:

  • Memory Loss

There is a difference between forgetting where your car keys are and forgetting what car keys do. We all experience forgotten appointments or misplaced items. Memory loss as it relates to Alzheimer's disease is forgetting information that is new or recently learned. Forgetting important dates or having to continually ask the same question over and over again could be a warning sign.

  • New Struggles with words or speaking

A normal age-related change is sometimes being unable to find the right word. But people with Alzheimer's really struggle with remembering words or names. It can be difficult for them to follow a conversation because they easily lose their train of thought or forget they have already said something (thus frequently repeating themselves).

  • Personality Changes

We sometimes hear, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" in regard to people who are very set in their ways. Many people prefer a routine and have a specific way of doing things. They can become irritated if asked to disrupt their routine. However, people suffering from Alzheimer's take this to a new level – becoming very out of sorts anytime they are in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. The changes happening in their brain can cause them to be suspicious or fearful of things that perhaps never bothered them before. The progression of the disease can make them easily upset or confused.

Help and Support at The Legacy

The Legacy: Memory Support is a secure community that provides care and support to people suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. Caring for a person suffering from these afflictions is challenging and often more than a person can handle on their own. The Legacy is staffed with a specially-trained caregiving team that provides individualized care and comfort to each resident.

The Legacy is part of Evergreen Senior Living's service offerings, with locations in Orland Park, Chillicothe and Decatur. You can learn more about these locations at our website, as well as our approach and philosophy for providing support and care to both the families and their loved one in need.

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Friday, 18 January 2019

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