Published on: April 16, 2012
by Morris Patrick for Alzheimers:
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease that affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized initially by memory loss but in its later stages also by loss of mental functioning including language, reasoning and understanding and reading and writing. It is the most common cause of dementia.
The devastation of Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of families in the United States and costs can be measured in mental, physical, emotional, and financial terms. The primary caregiver is the one who suffers most. This is the person who tends to a loved one requiring progressively more attention and eventually total care.
There are many things that can be done to safely tend to the patient while preserving the emotional and physical health of the caregiver.
The patient can be combative and otherwise uncooperative when bathing and dressing time comes. Planning this out can help a lot. Make sure you use rubber mats to avoid slipping. Make sure all bathing necessities are within reach. Bathrooms should have grab bars and shower seats. This can be a tremendous help. Be very careful about water temperature.
There is much information available defining the progression of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and this information can take many forms. For the sake of simplicity, we describe the progression in terms of three main stages.
In the Early Stage Alzheimer’s disease, the evidence of memory and concentration problems is clearly discernable. People in this stage often find it difficult to remember current events or to perform complex tasks such as paying bills or managing finances.
A person in Mid Stage Alzheimer’s disease will experience confusion about where they are, the date, or season. He or she will be able to remember things about themselves-like their names and the names of their children, but will have trouble remembering details such as their current address or telephone number. People in this stage require some assistance with day-to-day activities.
As Mid Stage Alzheimer’s disease progresses, memory problems worsen and are accompanied by personality changes. A person would require extensive help with activities of daily living including toileting and dressing appropriately. Individuals may tend to wander and experience delusions and disrupted sleep patterns.
In Late Stage Alzheimer’s disease, individuals will need assistance will all or most of their daily needs-eating, toileting, dressing and walking. Individuals in this stage lose the ability to use meaningful language and eventually even to speak. Along with the loss of speech, individuals in this stage lose the ability to control their movement or to respond to their environment.
Research has demonstrated that, when it comes to medical concerns, the fear of developing Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) exceeds the fear of every other type of health condition.
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