As we reflect on Alzheimer Awareness Month, we’d like to acknowledge the impact felt by this and many other forms of Dementia. We at Advanced Home Care are very much aware of and sensitive to the challenges faced by those suffering because of a new or progressing neurologic disorder diagnosis.
Nothing about this disease is easy, but we can all take steps to educate ourselves and become more familiar with the signs, treatments and measures that can be taken to improve the quality of life for those who are struggling.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurologic condition that affects memory, behaviour, social skills, and overall cognitive function. It is the most common form of Dementia and most often affects adults over the age of 65, 80% of which are above 75. Physiologically, Alzheimer’s causes the brain to atrophy and brain cells to die.
Can Alzheimer’s Be Prevented?
Although some medications exist that can temporarily improve or delay cognitive decline, there is no cure or true preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s. But that is not to say that brain health shouldn’t be nurtured or monitored.
Neuroplasticity is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to adapt based on external stimuli and sensory input. There are things you can do to increase neuroplasticity, such as learning to play a new instrument. When your brain is regularly exercised in healthy ways, new pathways are created which can, in turn, support cognitive function.
What Are the Signs?
In the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common signs include memory impairment, such as forgetting recent events and/or conversations. The symptoms will progress as time goes on, becoming more obvious to others. If you or a loved one are showing early signs, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor as soon as possible, as it may affect your treatment options. As well, if you are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s, be sure to communicate any concerns with your doctor and arm yourself with as much awareness and information as possible.
The Value of Community Care
For those feeling the weight of a new or worsening neurologic condition, community care workers are an invaluable asset to ensure safety while maintaining dignity.
In the stages of any disorder affecting cognitive function, there comes a time when it feels like everything is in between – perhaps you’re not yet at the point where a long-term care facility would prove to be a great benefit, but no longer confident that your loved one can consistently perform day-to-day functions that ensure comfort, basic hygiene, and safety. This includes things like daily medications, cooking and cleaning. A community care worker can be a valuable resource during this period, and provide all the essentials with total compassion and skill because they have been extensively trained to do so.
In many cases, friends or family members attempt to take on such a role with little-to-no experience and end up burning out in the process. There is no shame in asking for help – you and your loved one will be so much better for it.
If you are interested in learning more about expanding your support network and resources, feel free to reach out. We are more than happy to lend our knowledge and encouragement.
Remember that help is available for those affected by Alzheimer’s and you are not alone – let’s fight this together.