Specialized Alzheimer’s Care Assisted Livings

memory_careThere are many assisted living facilities in the world today. Each varying in size and style, all provide care for the average senior who is aging and needs assistance with the activities of daily living. Many assisted livings (AL) are licensed, designed and staffed for care associated with general needs that go along with aging.  The intense level of care and security necessary for seniors who suffer from a memory loss disease require a different environment than is typically found in general AL. While you will often find a general AL community with an area or wing sectioned off for those with memory related diseases, there are a growing number of specialized assisted livings. Specialized Alzheimer’s care assisted livings are licensed, designed and staffed to offer the higher level of care and assistance required for seniors with memory loss.

An AL that only cares for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia has the ability to focus on specific needs that arise with this very vulnerable population (learn more about care giving for Alzheimer’s patients). The staff is trained in how to recognize different behaviors and habits that arise throughout the Alzheimer’s disease. They understand how to effectively communicate with the residents through body language and words. Activities for the residents are shorter and more engaging with a focus on brain stimulating games such as puzzles, Bingo Qwirkle and simple art projects. Ideally the building itself is designed for those with memory loss to help provide familiarity and comfort for the residents. Smaller rooms and living spaces, a continuous walking path through out the building so the residents never get “lost” at the end of a hallway, minimal doors and rooms to help reduce confusion, open gathering areas that make it easier for caregivers to monitor residents, and safe and accessible outdoor areas are all something to look for in an Alzheimer’s AL.

Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases are unique in that they affect everyone differently. Placing your loved one in an assisted living that is tailored to help care for your dad, mom, spouse or grandparent is one of the best acts of kindness you can do for them. You can be comforted by the fact that specialized assisted livings have the training and knowledge to handle all aspects of memory loss and causes and ideally, the staff has the heart and compassion for this population. Specialized Alzheimer’s assisted livings can differ from each other in their size, design, management style and heart, but one thing remains the same, they are the experts in caring for those who battle with memory loss.  To learn more about specialized assisted living visit, AutumnGrove.com.

Author Bio

Autumn Grove provides Unique Alzheimer’s Care in Houston and San Antonio. Their blog covers personal stories related to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

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Announcing the Alzheimer’s Action Day Guide

A Comprehensive Resource for Caregivers, Loved Ones and Alzheimer’s Patients

Today, September 21, 2012, is Alzheimer’s Action Day. This nationally recognized event aims to raise awareness of the need for continued education and research to combat this devastating illness. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50 to 80 percent of all cases. Overall, 5.4 million Americans, and one in eight older Americans, have Alzheimer’s disease. More than 15 million family caregivers and other loved ones are providing unpaid care to those suffering from the disease, totaling a startling $210 billion in care.

To help raise awareness of the significant impacts Alzheimer’s disease has on families and loved ones, we’ve put together the Alzheimer’s Action Day Guide, a comprehensive resource covering the latest research, treatments, fact and figures, as well as informative tips for caregivers.

The the Alzheimer’s Action Day Guide contains:

The Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease

To provide caregivers with valuable insights and information to aid in the task of caring for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, we interviewed a panel of 20 leading memory care experts. Each of our experts answered three pertinent questions related to caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s:

  • Advice for Alzheimer’s Caregivers: This question evoked an incredible range of responses from our panel, resulting in a robust list of expert tips.
  • Techniques for Treating Alzheimer’s Patients: When faced with the range of emotions that comes with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it’s difficult to keep important points in mind. We tend to react, instead of taking a proactive approach in our own behaviors to help our loved ones cope with the difficulty of memory loss and other symptoms. These tips will help caregivers learn techniques for treating their loved ones in a way that helps them feel as though they’re maintaining their independence and own sense of self-worth.
  • Key Questions to Ask About Alzheimer’s: This third and final question asks our expert panel for tips on getting the necessary information they need from healthcare providers and other caregivers. Asking these questions will help you identify other resources to assist you and your loved one along this difficult journey.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: Are They the Same Thing?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually not the same. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, while dementia is an overall term used to describe memory loss. This article will offer you a firm understanding of the differences between the two terms.

5 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease You May Not Be Aware Of

One of the most common questions asked is, “How do I know if my loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?” Without an official diagnosis, there are many signs and symptoms that may lead you to think your loved one is entering the early stages of the disease. While diagnostics are improving, one of the most reliable diagnostic tests is a simple questionnaire still used by physicians across the U.S. If you suspect your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease, check out this list of signs you may not be aware of – and consult a physician as soon as possible, as there are treatments that have been proven to slow the progression of the disease.

10 Common Memory Loss Causes

Dealing with the frustrating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease puts patients and caregivers on an emotional rollercoaster. One of the most frustrating aspects is a lack of understanding of why Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia and memory loss occurs. While we still don’t have a definitive cause, there are a number of factors that have been associated with memory loss. This article discusses 10 of the most common causes.

The Eye Test – Alzheimer’s Disease Detection at The Most Crucial Point

Diagnostic tests to detect Alzheimer’s disease are improving, but to date, there’s no globally accepted standard test that definitively diagnoses the disease. However, a group of researchers in Australia have developed a non-invasive eye test that can be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease based on findings that show the disease affects the eyes in addition to the brain.

Top 5 Dementia Medications for Seniors

Current treatment options consist primarily of medications that can help slow the progression of the disease. Here’s a look at the top 5 current medications used to treat dementia in the senior population.

5 Non-Medical Alzheimer’s Treatments That Work

Despair. Anger. Frustration. These are all common emotions you may experience upon learning yourself or your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating illness for which there is no cure. But there are treatments, and researchers are working towards more promising treatments every day. There are even some natural treatments that may help with the symptoms. We’ve rounded up a list of five non-medical treatments that actually work.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLBs) – how it differs from Traditional Dementia in the Elderly

Lewy-Body Dementia is a very specific type of dementia that has some key differences when compared to traditional dementia. There are differences in symptoms, particularly during the early stages of the disease, and some standard treatments aren’t as effective in treating Lewy-Body Dementia. We’ve broken down all the differences for ease of understanding how the two differ.

Interview with Carol Steinberg of AFA Teens

AFA Teens is a national organization with the goal of engaging teenagers in the fight against Alzheimer’s. We had the opportunity to chat with Carol Steinberg, Executive Vice President of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America about the AFA Teens branch of the organization, its mission and efforts and the unique challenges the younger generation faces when coping with a loved one who suffers from the disease.

Interview with Tommy Whitelaw on Caring for Loved Ones with Dementia

Tommy Whitelaw is publisher of Tommy on Tour, a short movie and blog chronicling Tommy’s journey to bring awareness to dementia and the challenges of caregiving for this population. Tommy’s inspiration is his 72-year-old mother, Joy, who suffers from vascular dementia. When he found himself as the primary caregiver for his mother and realized the need for further education and resources. Tommy took a few minutes to share some information with us about his tour to raise awareness.

Ideal Living Settings for Alzheimer’s Patients

Changes in environment can be stressful for Alzheimer’s patients. There are environmental factors and situations that can cause an increase or decrease in symptoms and behaviors. Read this guide to determine how to best prepare your loved one’s living situation.

Memory Care

If it’s come time to consider placing your loved one in a safe, nurturing environment with appropriate round-the-clock care, this guide to memory care breaks down costs, services, what to expect and more about the available memory care options.

When you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the first step in a successful journey is developing an understanding of what you’re up against and what options you have. The resources provided in this guide will help you learn how to cope with your emotions, understand what treatment options you have available and develop skills to enable you to continue a healthy, happy relationship with your loved one.

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What is the ideal living setting for Alzheimer’s Patients

Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is extremely challenging. The Alzheimer’s patient’s mood and levels of ability will change each day. They forget the basic concept of caring for themselves in such things as dressing, bathing and feeding themselves. Caregivers will find that if they have a daily plan for the patient, they can cope with the problems that crop up each day. You will also have to learn how to be flexible with your own daily routines. The Alzheimer patient will have good times in a day and moody times. If the patient is cooperative in the mornings, try and plan your shopping during those hours. If the patient usually gets confused in the afternoons, try doing activities at home where the patient is more familiar with his or her surroundings.

Home Safety Tips

When caring for an Alzheimer’s patient at home you will need to make sure the home is safe and secure. Locks should be placed on all doors that lead to the outside and all the windows. You should also take off the lock on the bathroom door. Patients sometimes will wonder during the day and you do not want him or her to be locked in the bathroom. Any cabinet or closet where you store chemicals or cleaning products should have childproof latches on them. The lower kitchen cabinets also have the childproof latches. If the patient can reach the upper cabinets and has a habit of going into the cabinets you might want to latch them as well.

Make sure that all medications are labeled properly and locked up. Guns should have childproof locks on them and stored in a locked cabinet or out of sight completely. If the patient smokes, you will need to be with the patient when he/she wants to smoke. Keep the cigarettes, lighter and ashtrays out of sight. If the patient does not see the items he may just stop smoking altogether. Make sure all knives are locked up. Kitchen knives should go into a drawer with a childproof latch.

The clutter in your home needs to be put away and safe walk through areas in the home needs to be defined. Small scatter rugs and any objects that may cause the patient to fall should be put away. The lighting in your home should be bright enough for the patient to walk around comfortably without straining to see each step. Have lighting on the front step and up the walkway to the front door and the entrance into the garage, if you have a garage.

Equipment and Pool Area

All your lawn equipment and electrical equipment needs to be locked up in a shed where the patient can not get in to and be harmed. If you have a pool, you should have an alarm on the door leading out to the pool and the door should have a lock placed high up on the door. Have safety devices such as a long pole and a life ring out by your pool at all times. When the family is out at the pool and the patient is with you keep the devices handy in case the patient decides to take a swim without warning.

Eliminate Stress for Patient

Holidays can be stressful enough without having an Alzheimer’s Patient to care for and worry about with all the decorations and company that will be coming over. You will need to limit how much you put out for decorations, depending on how the patient will react to having the clutter around. Limit friends and family to just a few people at a time for a visit. Make sure the patient can sit and rest when he/she wants to get away from all the excitement. Try to avoid large crowds or changing the patients routine to much.

Alzheimer patients have a tendency to wonder. Protect your patient with a medical alert bracelet and proper identification so the police or neighbors can bring the patient home safely. Tell your neighbors about his/her condition so if they do see the patient wondering they will bring the patient back.

Ask for Help

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Your family and the community can pitch in and give you a break even if it is only for a couple of hours. Most communities have a day program where the patient can go and join into activities and you can relax or shop while the patient is enjoying time with other people.

The Three Most Common Types of Dementia and Their Differences

For anyone who is responsible for the care of someone suffering from dementia it is important to know about the different types of dementia, and what particular form of the disease he or she is dealing with. Whether a healthcare professional or a family member, the more that is known about the disease the better the demands of the patient’s care can be handled.

Each of the following three types of dementia have different causes and can affect the patient differently. All have common symptoms and the only way to determine the type of dementia in a patient is through a thorough examination by an expert.

The three most common types of dementia are:

1. Alzheimer’s Disease
2. Vascular Dementia
3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Let’s take a look at each of the types of dementia in a bit more detail:

Alzheimer’s Disease

This most common form of dementia is not curable and is irreversible. It first affects memory and progresses to destroying the patient’s other cognitive skills like the ability to reason, speak, move, and eat.

This disease is not a normal step in the aging process, but people are more apt to develop Alzheimer’s as they age, with symptoms often appearing after the age of 60. Plaques and tangles form inside the brain causing chemical deficiencies. It is believed that this can start to have an effect on the memory center long before a person shows any symptoms. It can take 8 to 10 years for the disease to progress to its worst stage.

Even though there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the progress of the disease can be slowed by a number of treatment options.

Vascular Dementia

This is a type of dementia that, like Alzheimer’s disease, causes loss of memory and cognitive abilities and most commonly affects patients over the age of 60. But unlike Alzheimer’s where the symptoms come on gradually, the symptoms of vascular dementia may come on more quickly, with memory loss being one of the last symptoms to appear.

Vascular dementia is different from Alzheimer’s in that it is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, commonly caused by strokes. Atherosclerosis– the shrinking of the blood vessels, allowing for fatty deposits to collect– can also be a cause, as well as high blood pressure. Regardless of the cause of blood vessel damage, the result is the same — decreased blood flow the brain.

Approximately 20% of all dementia cases are vascular, making it the second most common type. Risk factors include a history of heart attacks, strokes – especially multiple strokes, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

This is the third most common form of dementia and is caused by build-ups of a certain type of protein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they effect a person’s perception, behavior, and thinking. Lewy bodies are often found in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s patients, making this form of dementia harder to diagnose.

Unlike Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, most of the symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies resemble those of Parkinson’s disease, such as muscle stiffness, slow movements or a shuffle when walking, falling, and tremors. Unlike any other form of dementia, this form also can present with hallucinations, severe sleep issues, acting out dreams, and extreme drowsiness followed by sudden spurts of energy.

This has been just a brief overview of the three most common types of dementia. As you can see, many symptoms can overlap and it can be difficult to properly diagnose a patient suffering from dementia. If you suspect that a loved one is suffering from any of these types of dementia, it’s best to take him or her to a specialist for further diagnosis, and to always stay as informed as possible as a caregiver.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLBs) – how it differs from Traditional Dementia in the Elderly

Dementia affects a staggering 24 million people worldwide, and can have a crushing effect on family, friends and finances. Dementia isn’t a single disease, but rather a name for the loss brain function, especially cognitive function, that is associated with a variety of different illnesses. In the elderly, dementia is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. The second most common dementia is called Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLBs). While both these diseases have devastating effects on those suffering from them, they are different in a variety of ways.

Physiological Differences between Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLBs) and Traditional Dementia

Although both types of dementia are caused by progressive brain damage, each disease process affects the brain in different ways; hence, the reason for the differences in symptoms and disease progression. In Alzheimer’s Disease,
amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles develop in the brain. Amyloid plaques are made up of protein fragments that were not broken down by the body. Neurofibrillary tangles are twisted fibers made up of abnormal tau proteins. Alzheimer’s patients also suffer a loss of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.

In patients with dementia with Lewy bodies, the brain is overtaken by the formation of Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are made up of alpha-synuclein proteins that have aggregated. Amyloid plaques are typically also present in DLB, but neurofibrillary tangles tend to be absent or significantly less severe. The negative effect on neurotransmitters differs as well. When compared to Alzheimer’s Disease, the deficit in acetylcholine is more severe. Additionally, those afflicted with DLB lose dopamine as well.

Symptomatology of Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLBs)

The differences between dementia and DLBs is most apparent during the early stages. In traditional dementia, memory loss is most prevalent. Early memory loss manifests itself in lost objects and forgotten conversations. Those afflicted may also experience personality changes and begin to have trouble with everyday tasks. Typically, dementia progresses relatively slowly, with an average of 12 years between diagnosis and death.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLBs), on the other hand, causes a decline is cognitive and motor function, and often presents with psychiatric illness as well. Although cognitive symptoms mirror those of Alzheimer’s Disease, those with DLB experience additional symptoms, including muscle stiffness, full-body tremors and hallucinations. The hallucinations are almost always visual, but auditory, olfactory and even tactile hallucinations have been reported. Additionally, DLB progresses far more rapidly, which results in a much shorter life expectancy in comparison to those with Alzheimer’s Disease. The average lifespan after diagnosis is only five to seven years in those with DLB.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLBs) Treatment

Alzheimer’s Disease is treated using a variety of different medications. The early stages are treated with cholinesterase inhibitors. Cholinesterase inhibitors prevent the loss of acetylcholine, which can delay the onset of more serious symptoms. Advanced Alzheimer’s is treated with NMDA antagonists. NMDA antagonists help regulate many of the brain’s chemicals in a way that prevents brain death. Additionally, medications are often used to treat unpleasant symptoms, such as anti-psychotics.

The treatment for Dementia with Lewy Bodies is a lot less defined. Cholinesterase inhibitors have been used with moderate success in treating cognitive decline. Treating motor and psychiatric symptoms is what can prove to be difficult. Many anti-psychotics cause an increase in motor dysfunction and medications commonly used to treat movement disorders can trigger psychosis. So far, using these drugs carefully at low doses seems to be the best option.

The Eye Test – Alzheimer’s Disease Detection at The Most Crucial Point

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, debilitating condition that is characterized by significant loss of memory. It is the most common form of dementia, and affects millions of people around the world. With no known cause or cure, it is quite understandable that Alzheimer’s remains a subject of much research and debate in the medical community.

Until recently there has been no diagnostic test that can practically and definitively detect Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. The normal tests for diagnosis involve physical and neurological exams, mental status assessments, blood tests, and brain imaging to explain dementia-like symptoms. The results of all these tests are then examined beside the individual’s complete medical history. The catch in this process is that the disease cannot be detected until it has advanced to a point where signs and symptoms are present in a patient. While brain scans can effectively find hints of the disease up to a decade before it manifests, they are extremely expensive and thus impractical.

Last year, however, a group of scientists in Australia have proven that Alzheimer’s disease affects not only the brain, but the eyes as well. Studies showed that the blood vessels in the retina can reveal definitive evidence of Alzheimer’s. For the eye test, Alzheimer’s suspects’ pupils are dilated via chemical solutions, and then they are asked to look into the camera. These blood vessels are photographed, and then measured by a computer program. The procedure is non-invasive, and can be done in just a few minutes.

Findings from the research showed that with the eye test, Alzheimer’s individuals had different blood vessel widths from those in individuals who didn’t have the disease. A more in-depth study reveals that the protein amyloid beta, found in Alzheimer’s brain plaque, appears in significant amounts in the eye. In addition, subsequent brain scans supported these findings.

While scientists are still working on fine-tuning the test’s accuracy, there is much excitement regarding this breakthrough, as it proves that there is an established link between the brain, retina changes and Alzheimer’s disease. Other countries are following suit with eye tests of their own.

The implications of this new test are positive. The Alzheimer’s eye test is non-invasive, and results are seen almost immediately after the test is done. It is also a much practical option compared to the more expensive brain scan. As far as practical diagnostic tests go, the eye test for Alzheimer’s is a good one. While the test’s accuracy still remains an issue, the findings are reliable enough to warrant early treatment for the disease. Other researchers are looking into the possibility of testing the eyes and looking for abnormalities in eye structures in search for other debilitating neurological conditions.

Despite advances in technology, there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment is largely palliative, focusing on symptoms as they appear. The advantage of early detection is that it allows for more time to prepare the patient and loved ones—both financially and emotionally.

What is Frontal Lobe Dementia?

Of the diagnoses involved with various types of dementia and their symptoms, frontal lobe dementia may go unnoticed due to its low rate of incidence.

Although relatively rare, frontal lobe dementia is a combination of degenerative diseases that may produce some of the same symptoms as the more common vascular dementia. It is described as the degeneration of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Since there is a significant amount of confusion between the two, the only method of getting a proper diagnosis of both diseases is by taking images of the brain.

Frontal lobe dementia can generally develop at an earlier age than other degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. There have been many cases of the frontal lobe dementia showing up in individuals before or right after they reach their senior years.

Frontal Lobe Dementia Prognosis

There is currently no cure for frontal lobe dementia. As the patient’s brain slowly deteriorates, symptoms will eventually worsen with time. After a firm diagnosis, a patient suffering from the disease can expect to live on average 8-10 years. Death usually results in complications related to frontal lobe dementia. Depending on the care received, the patient can live a more extended life.

Frontal Lobe Dementia Symptoms

Frontal lobe dementia is also considered to be one of the most difficult forms of dementia to date. There are a wide range of symptoms that come with the disease including mood changes, loss of basic skills and knowledge, as well as memory loss. It is important to get an early diagnosis of the disease and prompt care is needed immediately after it is discovered. There are many steps that you can take to help a senior in your care to live an easier life with this disease.

Treating Frontal Lobe Dementia

As a caretaker, it is important for you to eliminate all risks within the patient’s living quarters that could cause harm due to wandering, opening cabinets, consuming poisonous substances by accident, etc. You should consider installing locks and latches in to certain places around the house, including medicine cabinets and kitchen drawers. All potentially dangerous substances or objects should be locked away and out of reach for your patient or loved one’s safety. Child safe cabinets can also be utilized to ensure your patient’s safety as well.

Try to maintain a stress and anxiety free environment for your patient. Keep the living quarters calm and peaceful and all times in order to prevent problems.

Coping with Frontal Lobe Dementia for the Caregiver

If your loved one behaves strangely, you must learn to adjust to these changes. Frontal lobe dementia is a devastating disease and many of the patient’s actions are uncontrollable by them. Remain tolerant with loved one as much as possible.

Look for different support groups that are based around dementia in your area. It is important to attend a support group in order to learn more information about your patient’s disease. There are also many online resources to research as well if you are unable to attend a support group. Although it is recommended that a patient suffering with frontal lobe dementia be cared for by a loved one or someone they can trust, it may be required that the patient stays in a nursing home.

For many reasons including safety and medical purpose, you may need to place them in a nursing facility indefinitely. Research nursing homes in your area or tour some facilities in order to ensure that your loved one will be cared for properly.

 

5 Signs of Alzheimer’s that You Might Not be Aware Of

Memory loss is the most commonly recognized sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not the only sign. In fact, there are a number of signs of Alzheimer’s that appear prior to the onset of severe memory loss and during the early stages of memory loss.

Before discussing the five most missed signs of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to note that memory loss in a person over the age of 65 is not always attributed to simple aging. In addition, minor memory loss is not always a sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s or, subsequently, dementia. Simple memory loss happens; a person forgets the name of a casual acquaintance or where she put her car keys. She may forget the name of the church where she was married or the date of her anniversary. While this is not always indicative of Alzheimer’s, it is a cause for concern in the elderly; particularly those over the age of 65. If you notice that your own memory or the memory of a loved one is progressively getting worse it is always wise to contact a doctor to discuss the potential of a bigger problem.

In addition to memory problems, let’s take a look at 5 other signs of Alzheimer’s that you might not be aware of:

1. Personality Changes

Before the onset of memory loss, a person’s personality can change significantly, which is the first sign that Alzheimer’s is a possibility. Someone with a friendly, outgoing personality may begin to show signs of grouchiness rather than her usual friendly behavior. Someone who is funny and entertaining may begin to show signs of inappropriateness. Typically, these changes are not noticed until the person begins exhibiting memory loss.

2. Difficulty with Multi-Step Tasks

The second less noticeable sign of Alzheimer’s is that a person will being having difficulty performing tasks that involve multiple steps, such as executing a difficult recipe. This person may begin avoiding difficult tasks. For example, a person that enjoys cooking may begin forgoing recipes that are complicated.

3. Vision Problems

The third in our list of signs of Alzheimer’s a person may exhibit prior to memory loss is vision problems. This could cause the patient to have trouble gauging depth perception and the differences between contrasting colors. Additionally, a person with this may have difficulty recognizing herself in the mirror as she passes by.

4. Trouble Speaking

Problem with language is another sign to watch out for. Finding the right word or phrase becomes difficult for a patient with Alzheimer’s. In addition, the person may begin repeating the same stories with alarming frequency and has no idea that she is doing it. Also, the wrong word might come out when as story is being told. For example, a person may ask for a mouth liquid instead of a drink.

5. Social Withdrawal

Social withdrawal is the fifth sign of Alzheimer’s to look out for prior to memory loss. This person may feel that she has a difficult time controlling her speech or her vision or even functioning normally and focuses so much on controlling those aspects of her life that she seems withdrawn in social situations. Rather than participating in or paying attention to conversations she will spend her time attempting to control herself so as not to embarrass herself in front of others.

It is not easy to tell whether or not a person has Alzheimer’s from these signs of Alzheimer’s alone. If the patient has all of these signs and is experiencing progressive memory loss at the same time, it is more likely that they have Alzheimer’s. However, it is important to remember that these things commonly happen to people that are never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If you suspect that this is the problem, contact a doctor right away for tests. The earlier that these signs of Alzheimer’s are detected, the earlier the patient can be diagnosed, and the earlier treatment can begin to slow the progression.

The Top Five Dementia Medications For Seniors

There is no cure for dementia, so in a best case scenario, medications that are currently available are only able to slow the rate at which the symptoms progress.

Four out of the top five dementia medications are Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, also referred to as AChE inhibitors:

  • Donepezil (Aricept)
  • Galantamine (Razadyne)
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon or the Exelon Patch)
  • and Tacrine (Cognex)

These dementia medications prevent the dissolution of a brain chemical called acetylcholine. People with dementia tend to have lower levels of acetylcholine, a chemical which is essential for proper brain function in the areas of reasoning and memory.

Donepezil

Donepezil is sold under the brand name Aricept. This dementia medication comes in the form of a tablet and is taken once per day, usually at bedtime. If insomnia or other sleep disturbances occur, the option of switching the dose to mornings should be discussed with the doctor. Other side effects can include nausea or diarrhea. Donepezil is usually started at a low dose which is then increased gradually if necessary. This dementia medication is generally not a good choice for people with cardiac problems, asthma, or COPD.

Galantamine

Razadyne is the most-used brand of galantamine. This dementia medication comes in tablet, liquid, and time-released capsule form. As a liquid or tablet it is taken twice daily, while the capsule is a once-per-day dose. This dementia medication often causes an upset stomach, so it should be taken with a meal. It is also important that plenty of water is consumed throughout the day.

Rivastigmine

While donepezil and galantamine are dementia medications most often prescribed for Alzheimer’s patients, rivastigmine is typically the choice for those with Parkinson’s disease. It comes in oral form, and it is also available as a transdermal patch. The brand name for rivastigmine is Exelon or Exelon Patch. The patch greatly reduces the incidence of nausea and vomiting, the most common side effects of this dementia medication.

Tacrine

Tacrine, sold under the brand name Cognex, was the first AChE inhibitor used to treat the progression of dementia. This dementia medication must be taken four times a day, and often the gastrointestinal side effects are not well tolerated.

Taking AChE Inhibitors Long Term

AChE inhibitors should be taken indefinitely once they are started, as studies have shown that sudden discontinuation of this type of dementia medication can cause a dramatic and irreversible drop in cognitive functioning. In addition to gastrointestinal upset, side effects can include dizziness, headaches, and loss of appetite. AChE inhibitors continue to be an effective way to slow the progression of dementia, but their degree of effectiveness depends in part on how advanced the dementia is when treatment is begun. They work best when they are prescribed for mild to moderate cases.

A Fifth Approach to Dementia Medication: NMDA Receptor Antagonists

People with more advanced dementia can benefit from adding another kind of dementia medication to their regimen: an NMDA receptor antagonist such as memantine, which is sold under the brand name Namenda. This drug prevents the over-stimulation of certain receptors in the brain and can improve the capacity to perform normal daily activities. It can be taken once or twice per day, and is prescribed in conjunction with AChE inhibitors. The most common side effects are headaches and dizziness.

Other Less Targeted Dementia Medications

Other types of medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, may also be prescribed to treat some of the problems that typically accompany dementia. The use of a variety of pharmaceutical treatments can go a long way toward keeping dementia sufferers at home with their families for as long as possible, despite the fact that fine tuning the different medications can sometimes seem like a juggling act.

 

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s – Are They the Same Thing?

As a person ages, their chances of being diagnosed with certain diseases grows with them. For example, the elderly are more susceptible to diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s than their younger counterparts. These two diseases commonly strike older patients and both are often used interchangeably when describing memory loss. What many people are unaware of is significant difference between Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s; both diseases are different and affect patients in a different manner. Learning the differences in Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s is imperative for anyone facing either of these conditions themselves or as caregivers to others.

Alzheimer’s is a specific medical disorder that affects the memory portion of a person’s brain. Dementia is not a specific disorder, but rather a culmination of several different symptoms. The leading cause of Dementia is actually Alzheimer’s disease; it is attributed to at least 65% of Dementia diagnosis’ in patients older than 60. Unfortunately, neither Alzheimer’s nor Dementia is curable, which means patients diagnosed with either will only be able to slow the process, not reverse it. While at first glance the conditions seem similar, let’s have a look at how they’re different by more closely defining each:

Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia – What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disease that typically strikes patients over the age of 65. Only 5 percent of the world’s population with Alzheimer’s is under the age of 65 and those people are in their 40s and 50s. This is a progressive disease; it starts off slowly, perhaps even going unnoticed for months or years. Forgetfulness is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s; a patient may begin forgetting small things such as the name of his street or the names of people he has known for years. Eventually, the disease worsens and memory loss becomes more prevalent. In late stage Alzheimer’s, patients become unable to carry on a conversation or remember anything from their lives. They will not recognize themselves in the mirror or even their own children. Life expectancy for an Alzheimer’s patient is approximately 8 years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, though each case is unique.

Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia – What is Dementia?

Dementia is similar to Alzheimer’s in that it does result in significant memory loss. However, Dementia refers to the loss of cognitive ability due to no obvious circumstances such as a major injury or trauma. Rather than focusing on the memory portion of the brain, Dementia symptoms focus on multiple areas of the brain including the memory, language and problem solving areas. Like Alzheimer’s, Dementia is a progressive disease that begins almost unnoticeably and the patient’s health declines over time. In addition to having difficulty remembering things that are typically considered common knowledge, Dementia patients lose their ability to function in the world by losing the ability to recognize their own language, read, write, or solve basic math problems or tell time.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia – Treatment Options

Neither Dementia nor Alzheimer’s has a cure as of today. Medications and cognitive therapy can temporarily improve symptoms of both and can even prolong the inevitable; however, these medications do not work on everyone. Cognitive therapy for Dementia patients can additionally help a patient learn to control his angry outbursts – caused by frustration at being unable to remember or perform – but a cure has not yet been found for either disease.