Senior Assisted Living Solutions will help you find the right Alzheimer's care community. We understand the disease and work with assisted living facilities who understand people with Alzheimer's and Dementia need special TLC.
As an Executive Director of Alzheimer's communities (assisted living facility) I became familiar with many different forms of Dementia. The differences in initial decline of my residents, varied depending on the type of Dementia. I had a dear resident who was a linguist (she taught 5 different languages). She developed frontal lobe dementia and over the period of 3 years-- totally lost her ability to speak or walk. Another had Pick’s (very rare form of Dementia) and whiles she did not loose motor skills, she became locked in her own head (she lost all social skills and could not communicate). All of my residents declined at different rates; however, there were remarkable similar behaviors with residents who had “like” Dementia’s.
The one and only thing that none of my residents lost was their ability to respond to human touch. Holding their hand, hugs, or stroking their face could always evoke a smile from them or calm them when they were agitated. The one thing that I can assure you is; in order to be successful in caring for a person with Alzheimer's you will need to have the ability to adapt to "their world". I f your loved one is 95 and waiting for her mom to pick her up, she really believes her mom is coming. Playing into her world will have amazing effects on her emotional state. i.e. Mom just called and said she will be here in 10 minutes; let's go wash our face and get pretty for her! This is called redirecting and is the most compassionate thing you can do for a person with alzheimer's. Telling her that her mom died 30 years ago will only upset her, besides she will not believe you anyway. In her world her mom is alive and on her way!
How common is Alzheimer's disease?
In the US, the most recent census has enabled researchers to give estimates of how many people have Alzheimer's disease. In 2010, some 4.7 million people of 65 years of age and older were living with Alzheimer's disease in the US. In 2015 that number has increased to 5.4 million.
The 2013 statistical report from the Alzheimer's Association gives a proportion of the population affected - just over a tenth of people in the over-65 age group have the disease in the US. In the over-85s, the proportion goes up to about a third.
Vascular dementia, which is caused by stroke not Alzheimer's, is the second most common type of dementia.
What causes Alzheimer's disease?
Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer's is caused by brain cell death. It is a neurodegenerative disease, which means there is progressive brain cell death that happens over a course of time.The total brain size shrinks with Alzheimer's - the tissue has progressively fewer nerve cells and connections.[brain neurons]
Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. In Alzheimer's, there are microscopic 'plaques' and 'tangles' between and within brain cells.While they cannot be seen or tested in the living brain affected by Alzheimer's disease, postmortem/autopsy will always show tiny inclusions in the nerve tissue, called plaques and tangles.Plaques are found between the dying cells in the brain - from the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid (you may hear the term "amyloid plaques").
The tangles are within the brain neurons - from a disintegration of another protein, called tau.
For a detailed visualization of what goes on in the Alzheimer's disease process, progressing from the normal brain to increasing dementia changes, the Alzheimer's Association has produced: Inside the brain: an interactive tour.
The abnormal protein clumps, inclusions, in the brain tissue are always present with the disease, but there could be another underlying process that is actually causing the Alzheimer's - scientists are not yet sure.This sort of change in brain nerves is also witnessed in other disorders,3 and researchers want to find out more than just that there are protein abnormalities - they also want to know how these develop so that a cure or prevention might be discovered.
Some things are more commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease - not seen so often in people without the disorder. These factors may therefore have some direct connection. Some are preventable or modifiable factors (for example, reducing the risk of diabetes or heart disease may in turn cut the risk of dementia).If researchers gain more understanding of the risk factors, or scientifically prove any "cause" relationships for Alzheimer's, this could help to find ways to prevent it or develop treatments.
Risk factors associated with Alzheimer's disease include:
Unavoidable risk factors and potentially avoidable or modifiable factors
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease
Genetics are behind early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease, which presents typically between the ages of 30 and 60 years and affects people who have a family history of it. Due to one of three inherited genes, it is also known as young-onset, and it is uncommon - accounting for under 5% of all Alzheimer's cases. The Alzheimer's Association says in its early-onset information that it can sometimes be "a long and frustrating process" to get this diagnosis confirmed since doctors do not expect to find Alzheimer's in younger people. For the younger age groups, doctors will look for other dementia causes first.
Healthcare professionals, the nonprofit says, may also "incorrectly attribute" symptoms to stress and so on, or may not agree on the diagnosis.
Eleven new Alzheimer's risk genes have been identified. The findings, published in Nature Genetics in October 2013, mean the total number of genes found to be associated with Alzheimer's disease was 21. Large research collaborations resulted in the breakthrough to help understand genetic factors behind the dementia. Just over 70,000 individuals were analyzed, comparing the genes of 25,580 people who had Alzheimer's against 48,466 healthy controls, enabling the scientists to pinpoint genes that may put people at higher risk.
Signs and symptoms
The cognitive decline is in at least TWO of the five symptom areas listed below (from guidelines jointly produced by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association):
1. Worsened ability to take in and remember new information, for example:
2. Impairments to reasoning, complex tasking, exercising judgment:
3. Impaired visuospatial abilities (but not, for example, due to eye sight problems):
4. Impaired speaking, reading and writing:
5. Changes in personality and behavior, for example:
Once the number and severity of these example symptoms confirm dementia, the best certainty that they are because of Alzheimer's disease is given by:
Stages of Alzheimer's disease
The progression of Alzheimer's can be broken down into three basic stages:
The Alzheimer's Association has broken this down further, describing seven stages along a continuum of cognitive decline based on symptom severity - from a state of no impairment, through mild and moderate decline, and eventually reaching "very severe decline." The association has published the seven stages online. It is not usually until stage four that a diagnosis is clear - here it is called mild or early-stage Alzheimer's disease, and "a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas."
The "abbreviated mental test score" (AMTS):
The mini mental state examination (MMSE) is a fuller cognitive test to help diagnose Alzheimer's disease. It is also sensitive to the severity of the disorder and helps to indicate when drug treatment could ease symptoms appearing later in the course of the disease:
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