More Than Memory: Coping With The Other Ills Of Alzheimer’s

(NPR) Greg O’Brien was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago. He has written about his experiences with the disease. 

The first problem with the airplane bathroom was its location.

It was March. Greg O’Brien and his wife, Mary Catherine, were flying back to Boston from Los Angeles, sitting in economy seats in the middle of the plane.

“We’re halfway, probably over Chicago,” Greg remembers, “and Mary Catherine said, ‘Go to the bathroom.’ ”

“It just sounded like my mother,” Greg says. So I said ‘no.’ “

Mary Catherine persisted, urging her husband of 40 years to use the restroom. People started looking at them.

“It was kind of funny,” says Greg.

Mary Catherine was more alarmed than amused. Greg has early-onset Alzheimer’s, which makes it increasingly hard for him to keep track of thoughts and feelings over the course of minutes or even seconds. It’s easy to get into a situation where you feel like you need to use the bathroom, but then forget. And they had already been on the plane for hours.

Finally, Greg started toward the restroom at the back of the plane, only to find the aisle was blocked by an attendant serving drinks. Mary Catherine gestured to him.

“Use the one in first class!”

At that point, on top of the mild anxiety most people feel when they slip into first class to use the restroom, Greg was feeling overwhelmed by the geography of the plane. He pulled back the curtain dividing the seating sections.

“This flight attendant looks at me like she has no use for me. I just said ‘Look, I really have to go the bathroom,’ and she says ‘OK, just go.’ “

Before Greg had Alzheimer’s, he would have discreetly made his way up the aisle, used the bathroom and gone back to his seat. Now, no part of that was possible. He had no idea where the bathroom was. Even after the crew member pointed to the front of the plane, he was still confused.

There were two doors.

He moved down the aisle, buying time, feeling the flight attendant watching him. The middle door was larger. He put his hand on it.

Immediately, he knew it was wrong – he had touched the cockpit door. The flight attendant was at his side. He apologized. She asked him to please step away from the door.

“I’m sorry,” Greg told her. “I have a problem. I got some Alzheimer’s.

“I didn’t get to pee,” he says now. “But I think I was lucky nothing bad happened.”

Greg unwinds a hose while doing some yardwork. Along with his failing memory, Greg has been experiencing secondary symptoms including paranoia, depression and slow healing.

Eight years after he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the 67-year-old’s memory is failing slowly and irreversibly. But, increasingly, it is his other symptoms that interrupt his day-to-day life as a writer, father, husband and now grandfather.

Some symptoms he is struggling with have largely unknown mechanisms. His depressed immune system, for example, is likely related to his Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers are still unsure exactly how. Same with the exact relationship between the Alzheimer’s and the numbness he feels in his hands and feet.

But many of the symptoms he experiences have clear links to the disease — things like rage, paranoia, depression and incontinence.

And he thinks that a lot of people who are open about some Alzheimer’s symptoms are uncomfortable talking about things like incontinence. He makes an extra effort to be open about his symptoms and joke about the parts of his life that are still funny.

“You’ll never see me with tan pants. I always have an extra pair of pants in the car,” he says, laughing a little. “I’m not trying to gross anyone out, but that’s my life today.”

“You don’t die of Alzheimer’s,” Greg says. “You die of everything else. But first, you live with it all. Alzheimer’s is not your grandfather’s disease.”

Prescription Side Effects

“I refuse to take this one because it makes me loopy,” Greg explains, standing at his kitchen sink pointing at one of the pill bottles lined up on the windowsill.

He reaches for another bottle.

“I call these ones my smart pills,” he says, struggling with the childproof top. “These goddamn things,” he grunts, the water running into the sink.

He extracts a pill and tosses it into his mouth, dipping his head to drink from the faucet.

He smiles. “Not always the best manners, I know.”

Although there is no drug to slow or stop the inevitable progression of Alzheimer’s, people like Greg, who was diagnosed with the early-onset form of the disease, often take multiple drugs to treat the symptoms. Greg has prescriptions for four drugs he’s supposed to take every day: two to combat dementia and other cognitive symptoms, and two antidepressants, Celexa and trazodone.

Trazodone is the one Greg refuses to take. Along with the second antidepressant, it’s meant to help him deal with the depression and suicidal thoughts that he has been experiencing on and off since he was diagnosed.

“In Alzheimer’s disease, you’re not just affecting the ability to remember things and learn things, but you’re also affecting parts of the brain that control mood,” says Rudy Tanzi, an Alzheimer’s researcher and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

He says Alzheimer’s affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which is involved in the ability to show restraint.

As the frontal lobe degenerates, it becomes easier to give into desires and fear. Many people get depressed, angry and anxious.

Celexa and other so-called mood stabilizers can help reduce that stress, agitation and depression. But research has also shown that such drugs can make it more difficult to think and focus, which in turn makes it difficult to do things like write.

And Greg is a writer. For years, he worked at newspapers and magazines in Boston and on Cape Cod. After his diagnosis, he wrote an autobiography, On Pluto: Inside The Mind Of Alzheimer’s, a second edition of which will be distributed by Viking/Random House in July. He still works as a freelance writer and editor, in part because he says his family needs the income.

And so, for now, he has decided to live with rage and depression, rather than compromise his ability to write.

Not everyone agrees with his choice to forgo some medication. His wife, Mary Catherine, and his son Conor, who works as a full-time assistant for Greg, have their own opinions.

This spring, Mary Catherine talked to one of Greg’s doctors.

“I was asking for some medication so I wouldn’t regret being married for 40 years,” she says, half-joking as she unloads groceries.

She has said that one of the unexpected parts of her husband’s Alzheimer’s is that it has brought them closer to each other, but everyone in the family seems to agree that his rage is still particularly difficult to handle.

“They have to put up with this,” Greg acknowledges, “that’s not fair.”

“I understand,” he continues, his smile fading.

“I’m worried about not being able to control the rage, and it’s getting to the point where it’s upsetting.

My son doesn’t even want to watch a Celtics game with me anymore, because if someone dribbles the wrong way, it’s ticking [me off], particularly if it’s at night.”

“How do I get a handle on it? I’m not quite sure. But I want to write. That’s what keeps me whole. That’s what makes me who I am.”

Sadness replaces defiance in his voice.

“I don’t know. I don’t want to lose any more than is already being taken from me,” he says.

“It means I become less of me.”

“He’s stalking me”

“That guy is watching me. I’ve got no freaking idea who he is,” Greg says, looking over his shoulder at a man sitting a few tables away.

The outdoor patio at a café in Orleans, Mass., is half full. It’s early afternoon on a Thursday.

A few minutes ago, the mystery man walked by and said hello to Greg. Now, as Greg looks over at him, he is smiling.

“He gave me a big hug, put his arm around me. Obviously I’ve known him for 20 years,” says Greg, his voice low.

“He’s sitting there on the steps now waiting for me. He’s waiting for me. He’s stalking me.”

At some level, he knows it’s not a rational fear. Sitting outside, a few minutes from his home on a spring day, Greg O’Brien is not in danger. But he is a man without a map, adrift in a sea of seemingly random information that has no context or way to order itself in his mind.

And so, in place of rational reaction to a man saying hello to him, Greg begins to worry he is being watched by a potential assassin.

In Alzheimer’s, “your brain can no longer regulate how what you hear and what you see at any given moment is integrated into a map of the world,” explains Tanzi.

“The paranoia is coming because you’re really experiencing in a sensory way things that are happening only in your own mind.”

But, in some ways, Greg is still the gregarious writer and father of three who frustrated his family with his endless gabbing when they went out to eat. Now, that part of his personality cuts through the paranoia, and he stands up and walks toward the stranger.

And this, says Tanzi, is absolutely the best way to react to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Greg is absolutely an outlier,” he says (the two met through the Boston-based Cure Alzheimer’s Fund).

“Having the motivation and the incentive and the drive every day to say, ‘Look, I have a disease. It’s progressive and it’s going to keep going. But I have a chance every day to try to fight it.’ Having that sense of purpose literally turns on the frontal cortex,” he explains.

“It provides you with meaning, and purpose and self-awareness. It’s brave.”

Greg approaches the mystery man.

“Hi, I’m Greg O’Brien. Do we know each other?”

Yes, the stranger replies gently. He is an old friend, a colleague from back when Greg worked at the The Cape Codder newspaper. He has known Greg for more than 20 years. He is a frequent confidant these days, though mostly by email, he says.

He thanks Greg for the help and support with his aging mother, who suffered memory loss. And they sit and chat, like the old friends they are.

Citation

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/24/525887392/more-than-memory-coping-with-the-other-ills-of-alzheimers

By

 

Elder Orphans: How to Plan for Aging without a Family Caregiver

(AARP) When you can’t lean on family and friends to help take care of you, here’s what you can do.

Carol Marak was a caregiver for both her parents: Her mom had congestive heart failure and her dad had Parkinson’s disease. After they died and she turned 60, she says,

“It occurred to me … oh, my goodness, I am not married. I do not have children. Who is going to do that for me?”

Marak, 65, of Waco, Texas, is considered an “elder orphan” — someone who is aging alone with no family available to address their caregiving needs. More than 1 in 5 Americans older than 65 are — or are at risk of becoming — elder orphans. And 23 percent of boomers will eventually be without family caretakers, according to Maria Torroella Carney, who has studied the issue and is chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health of Great Neck, N.Y.

And those figures don’t include the countless parents whose adult children are not available or able, for various reasons, to assist them.

The American Geriatrics Society recently developed guidelines for how public policy and the health care industry might assist elder orphans. (The authors refer to them as “unbefriended” older adults.) Experts warn of a potential crisis as the population ages and even fewer family caregivers are available for each person.

A 2015 AARP Public Policy report titled “Valuing the Invaluable” concluded that while there were 7.2 potential family caregivers for every person 80 and older in 2010, that ratio is likely to fall to 4 to 1 by 2030, and could sink to 3 to 1 by 2050.

But even with already high numbers of elder orphans set to skyrocket, there’s still a widely held assumption in the health care industry that everyone has a family caregiver in the wings.

“When you go in for a colonoscopy, they won’t even do the procedure if you don’t have someone to take you home,” Marak points out.

“Everyone thinks we all have family. Well, we don’t.”

Here are some tips for planning ahead if you don’t have a family caregiver.

Consider where — and how — you might like to age. While you’re still healthy, evaluate your living situation and try to make a plan.

“Identify where the best place is for you to live,” Carney says.

“Should you move to an area that’s more walkable, or has mass transportation or access to taxis?”

You might also consider communal living options, such as taking on roommates, or moving to a senior community or assisted living facility — often an ideal option for some who can afford it.

Get your paperwork in order. Make all legal documents accessible and your intentions clear. That includes deciding upon a health and financial proxy: Who’s going to make crucial decisions for you if you become incapacitated? If you don’t have anyone in your personal life to fill that role, you might look into elder care resources in your region. Or your doctor may be willing to step in, Carney says.

“I’ve had patients who’ve had no one and have asked me or my colleague to be their health care proxy,” she adds.

(If a physician agrees to be your proxy, he or she can’t continue as your health care provider.) You might consult an elder care lawyer to discuss your situation and help you plan.

Develop a social network. You may not be able to rely on friends for serious, long-term care, but they can help you — and you them — in many ways, such as bringing meals when you’re ill or recovering, and doing errands such as picking up prescriptions or groceries. Sometimes it’s hard to make new friends late in life, and old ones may not live nearby or are caught up in their own health issues. Consider joining clubs, taking a class, volunteering — anything that will offer you repeated exposure to a new group of people.

Find support from like-minded people. Marak started a Facebook group for elder orphans in February 2016 so

“people have a place just to feel like they’re not alone, so they can identify with others.”

Think creatively. Among other possible ways to plan for a future without a family caregiver, Marak has considered adopting a family. They’d agree to care for her, and she’d bequeath her assets to them. Other innovative ideas, Marak says, include joining other elder orphans in a living situation with space for a live-in caregiver

“so the residents, as they age, can count on this caregiver to help them at home. They provide the space for the person to live, and that person provides the services they need.”

If you have ideas for how elder orphans might prepare for aging without a family caregiver, join the conversation at AARP’s online community.

Citation

http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2016/caregiving-tips-when-aging-alone.html?intcmp=CRC-FEED

Christina Ianzito is a features editor at AARP Media.

Copyright 2016 AARP

 

Cómo Manejar la Tensión Atención para el Cuidador

(BrightFocus Foundation) Más de 5 millones de estadounidenses tienen la enfermedad de Alzheimer. Este folleto está dirigido a todas las personas que cuidan de ellos, ya sean miembros de la familia o amigos o cuidadores de la comunidad. Por medio de este y otros recursos de nuestro programa de investigación sobre la enfermedad de Alzheimer, BrightFocus Foundation quiere educar e informar a los cuidadores con el fin de ayudarlo a mantenerse fuerte y confiado enfrentando esta enfermedad difícil.

El cuidado de las personas con la enfermedad de Alzheimer trae presiones inusuales y una carga enorme de responsabilidad. La tarea que realizan los cuidadores es extenuante tanto fisica como emocionalmente. A medida que la enfermedad avanza, los cuidadores deben adaptarse a cambios constantes tanto del paciente como de las habilidades que se necesitan para manejar las crecientes responsabilidades que se requieren para el cuidado.


A medida que pasa el tiempo, es necesaria una vigilancia continua y un monitoreo permanente. No es nada extraño que las personas cuidadoras de pacientes con la enfermedad de Alzheimer sufran altos niveles de tensión. La tensión severa durante un largo periodo puede tener consecuencias graves en el bienestar del cuidador. Si no se toman medidas para aliviar periódicamente estas presiones, los cuidadores enfrentan un riesgo extremo de agotamiento y pueden sufrir de problemas físicos y emocionales. Se sabe que la tensión prolongada contribuye a la depresión, sistema inmunológico debilitado, presión arterial alta, enfermedades cardíacas y otras manifestaciones negativas para la salud.

Las señales de advertencia sobre la tensión

Si sus esfuerzos como cuidador están superando su capacidad para sobrellevar bien su tarea y le están causando una tensión excesiva, usted puede experimentar:

Rechazo: mantener la creencia de que la enfermedad de la persona que recibe el cuidado no es grave o incluso de que no exista.
Ansiedad: preocupación excesiva por el futuro.
Depresión: sentirse sin esperanzas o impotente frente a la situación que se vive.
Irritabilidad: “estallar” por cosas pequeñas. Enojo: sentir enojo en momentos inoportunos.
Falta de concentración: tener dificultad en enfocarse.
Aislamiento: sentirse alienado de otras personas y de las actividades que solían traer disfrute.
Problemas de sueño: tener dificultad para dormir o dormir demasiado.
Agotamiento: sensación de cansancio crónico.
Enfermedad: sufrir problemas de salud.

El primer paso: Reconocer lo que puede o no puede cambiar

La noticia de que un ser amado tiene la enfermedad de Alzheimer puede parecer abrumadora al comienzo. Sin embargo, la mayoría de los cuidadores consideran que mientras más aprenden sobre la enfermedad y los recursos que tienen a su disposición, pueden enfrentarla mejor. Una forma de controlar la tensión que involucra el cuidado diario, es aprender a reconocer las cosas que pueden cambiarse para mejorar, y aceptar las que no se pueden cambiar.

Muchos expertos ofrecen los siguientes consejos:

Aprender todo lo que se pueda sobre la enfermedad de Alzheimer para que usted sepa qué esperar y no perder tiempo innecesario y energía preocupándose por cosas que no puede cambiar. Usted también puede mantenerse al día con las últimas investigaciones relacionadas con la prevención futura y opciones de tratamiento. Para obtener más información, visite www.brightfocus.org/ espanol.

Aceptar lo inevitable, vivir el momento, y dejar de lado las expectativas poco realistas. Lamentablemente, no debe esperar que alguien que tiene la enfermedad de Alzheimer “se mejore”, y esto puede ser especialmente difícil si usted está cuidando de él o ella. Sin embargo, la vida diaria puede mejorar con una buena atención y las habilidades de afrontamiento. Al hacer los arreglos frente a la pérdida progresiva de memoria de él y la creciente necesidad de ayuda, usted podrá concentrarse en encontrar maneras para enfrentar esta situación. No espere que una persona con la enfermedad de Alzheimer aprenda de nuevo la información que se ha perdido.

Identificar las fuentes de ayuda. Una vez que ha aprendido lo que puede esperar de la enfermedad, busque fuentes de ayuda, tales como los servicios del gobierno local, estatal y federal; centros de cuidado diurno para adultos, y los servicios de cuidado intermitente—ayuda con el cuidado domiciliario—para usted. Haga una lista de estos recursos y guárdela en un lugar de fácil acceso.

Consulte la lista de recursos al final de este folleto como punto de partida. Por favor recuerde que no será apropiado un solo servicio o plan a lo largo de todo el curso de la enfermedad.

Recurra o únase a un grupo de apoyo y no tenga temor de pedir ayuda a su familia y amigos. (Consulte la sección “No trate de hacer todo sin ayuda”).

Usar la validación en vez de confrontar a su ser amado cuando parezca estar fuera de la realidad. No discuta ni regañe, cuando alguien con la enfermedad de Alzheimer padezca con creencias fijas, falsas y experimente confusión.

Hacer que su casa sea un ambiente seguro y tranquilo para usted y para su ser amado (o la persona que usted cuida) estableciendo una rutina simple y regular que se debe seguir a diario. Ubique las fuentes de productos especiales y consejos sobre cómo hacer que su casa sea segura y “a prueba de Alzheimer” (puede encontrar una lista de compañías que ofrecen tales productos en inglés www. brightfocus.org/homesafety).

Planificar el aspecto legal y financiero tan pronto como sea posible, o anime a la familia a quien provee cuidado a hacerlo. De ese modo estas decisiones estarán tomadas y no agregaran más tensión; más tarde, cuando su ser amado este en necesidad de mayor atención o cuando se produzca una situación de crisis. Involucre a los otros miembros de la familia en estas discusiones. Este preparado para manejar los desacuerdos, los cuales pueden aumentar la tensión en los momentos cruciales en el camino de la enfermedad de Alzheimer.

Aceptar el hecho de que su relación cambiará continuamente a través del tiempo.Para los miembros de la familia, esto significa que algunas tareas establecidas durante mucho tiempo también cambiarán. Es posible que tenga que hacerse cargo de cosas que no solía realizar, tales como pagar las facturas, cuadrar las cuentas de la chequera, hacer las compras o cocinar. Es importante que reconozca cuando su ser amado, o el paciente que usted cuida, ya no está en capacidad de hacer las cosas que solía realizar. Le corresponde a usted aprender nuevas habilidades y buscar ayuda.

Comprender, que a veces, su actitud es la única cosa que puede cambiar. Siempre que se sienta abrumado, practique reestructurar su visión de las cosas en una forma más positiva. (Consulte la sección sobre “Practicar como tener una actitud positiva”página 7). Aprende a perdonar a todos, incluyéndose usted, a la persona que usted cuida, a otros miembros de la familia, amigos y médicos, por cometer errores y por decepcionarlo.

Confiar en sus instintos. La mayoría de las veces, le llevará en la dirección correcta.

Cómo tomar medidas para disminuir la tensión

Existen algunas técnicas probadas y verdaderas, aunque no eliminarán totalmente la tensión, pueden ayudar a manejarla y reducirla. Estas técnicas envuelven suavizar el impacto de los agentes que ocasionan la tensión en su vida y desarrollar su capacidad de enfrentarlos. Si puede adoptar aunque sea dos o tres de las siguientes sugerencias, se sentirá con menos tensión y más en control de su vida.

Tómese el tiempo para meditar o reflexionar. Diez o veinte minutos dos veces al día para “despejar su mente” puede hacer maravillas cuando se sienta sobrecargado o abrumado. Algunos cuidadores aprenden técnicas de meditación a través de clases, cintas, videos o libros sobre el tema, mientras que otros simplemente se toman tiempo para reflexionar tranquilamente. En cualquiera de los casos, es Atención para el Cuidador 6 importante que tome las cosas con calma y concéntrese en alejar de su mente todos los pensamientos que puedan estar aumentando su ansiedad.

El ejercicio es otra buena manera de sanar la mente y el cuerpo. Es una de las mejores técnicas conocidas para reducir el estrés, ya que revitaliza la energía y conserva la salud. Una caminata a paso ligero varias veces cada semana le ofrece beneficios significativos para la salud. Hay muchas opciones para hacerlo en casa y también son buenas, desde caminar en un mismo lugar o practicar yoga o el tai chi. Su biblioteca puede ofrecer videos de ejercicios. Invita a un amigo a unirse contigo en el ejercicio.

Tenga cuidado de su cuerpo teniendo constantemente sus chequeos médicos.Tome sus medicamentos según estén prescritos, y consuma alimentos saludables. Cuidar de su cuerpo mejora su perspectiva emocional y le da sensación de bienestar.

Trate de hacer algo que le guste cada día. Cultivar un jardín, ver su programa favorito en la televisión, leer un artículo que le interese o dedicarse a su pasatiempo favorito puede ayudar a que centre su atención en usted mismo y recordar que aún tiene una vida además de dedicarse al cuidado. Designa un “santuario” convirtiendo una habitación o parte de la misma en su lugar acogedor que le recuerda relajarse y disfrutar. Debe tomar algún tiempo, aunque sean 10 o 15 minutos para cuidar de sí mismo.

Prepare una lista de las cosas que debe hacer. Tratar de mantener todas las tareas de proveer cuidado en su cabeza aumenta la ansiedad. Preocuparse por lo que se le haya olvidado agrava el problema. El uso de calendarios y agendas pueden ayudarle a dar prioridad y dar seguimiento a sus responsabilidades.

Haga una cosa a la vez. Tratar de hacer malabares con las tareas como hablar por teléfono, abrir el correo y cocinar al mismo tiempo sólo aumenta el nivel de tensión. Haga una cosa a la vez. Cuando termine una tarea, continúe con la siguiente.

Establezca límites a lo que puede lograr, y aprenda a decir “no” más a menudo. Si usted se siente agotado, baje sus expectativas y reexamine sus prioridades. Usted no puede hacerlo todo. Nadie puede.

No trate de hacer todo sin ayuda. Mantenga los lazos de amistad y las relaciones familiares incluso si sólo tiene tiempo para una llamada telefónica semanal. Únase a un grupo de apoyo donde pueda compartir experiencias o hablar con un consejero si lo necesita. No piense que puede “encargarse de todo sin ayuda” en su tarea de cuidador. Algunas veces, el solo hecho de hablar de sus preocupaciones puede ayudar a liberarse de ellas.

Use la computadora para conectarse con amigos y el mundo exterior. Si usted no tiene una en casa, echa un vistazo en su biblioteca pública para el acceso a computadoras e internet. Si no está familiarizado con el uso de una computadora, pregunte al personal de la biblioteca para solicitar ayuda.

Lleve un diario sobre lo que piensa y siente. Muchos cuidadores encuentran que escribir lo que piensan les proporciona un escape emocional y los ayuda a encontrar claridad en medio de la confusión.

Conserve su sentido del humor. A veces no nos queda nada más que reírnos y la risa es excelente para la salud física y emocional. Busque libros y películas que sean alegres y humorísticos. Incluso en los peores días suceden cosas graciosas –debería hacer lo posible por apreciarlas.

No estropee los buenos momentos. Aprecie los momentos en los que todavía puede disfrutar ciertas cosas con o sin la persona que usted cuida, tales como caminar en el parque o jugar con los nietos o mascotas. Una vida sin placeres sólo lo debilita más y lo hace más vulnerable a la tensión. Esto es un círculo vicioso que puede evitar.

Reconozca sus méritos. Como cuidador de una persona con la enfermedad de Alzheimer, es probable que usted está haciendo lo mejor que puede. Es importante que usted reconozca por sí mismo todas las cosas difíciles que hace y permitase sentir una sensación de logro y satisfacción.

Pregúntese a sí mismo, “¿Qué estoy aprendiendo de esto?” Las posibilidades son que en la tarea en la que se ha embarcado como cuidador, ha cambiado y desarrollado habilidades. Usted ha superado obstáculos que nunca pensó superar. Dese un aplauso por ese crecimiento.

Practicar como tener una actitud positiva

Es claramente difícil cuidar a alguien que padece la enfermedad de Alzheimer. Un enfoque importante para hacerle frente y permanecer desempeñando su papel; es practicar constantemente una actitud positiva. Del mismo modo que es vital ejercitar su cuerpo, es esencial tomar medidas para crear un estado de ánimo positivo. Y de igual forma que usted gana músculo por la repetición, para desarrollar una actitud más positiva frente a problemas, practíquela hasta que se convierta natural su estado emocional. En primer lugar, identifique sus pensamientos negativos. “Yo siempre termino siendo el cuidador” y “nunca aprecian lo que hago” son pensamientos inherentemente negativos que pueden conllevar a emociones negativas. Cuando note que ocurren este tipo de pensamientos negativos remplázalos con mensajes positivos, como “estoy haciendo lo mejor que puedo” o “algunas cosas están fuera de mi control” o “a veces, sólo tengo que hacer lo que funciona en este momento.” Estos pensamientos “reemplazantes” deshacen los pensamientos negativos habituales que pueden quitar su energía y hacen triste, enojado e inútil. Los siguientes son ejemplos de los mensajes negativos que podría decir a usted mismo y algunas declaraciones reflexivas, realistas y positivas que puede utilizar para cuestionar estos pensamientos negativos.

Tome en cuenta que este enfoque o modelo no niega o pretende que todas las cosas son de la manera que usted quiere que sean. Por el contrario, le ayuda a darse cuenta de que las cosas no son tan malas como sus pensamientos más pesimistas quieren hacerle creer.

Recuerde que es muy difícil encontrar una situación de la vida que no se pueda mejorar, aunque sea un poquito, si despejamos nuestra mente y nos enfocamos en buscar soluciones concretas. Incluso soluciones temporales o para un caso en particular son valiosas si ayudan a pasar el día.

Si puede tratar de ser una persona más calmada, con una actitud mental más positiva, tendrá mejores recursos para manejar los desafíos que se presenten en el camino. También se convertirá en un mejor cuidador y ganará más confianza y satisfacción en el desempeño de ese papel.

Recursos

Alzheimer’s Disease Research (Investigación sobre la enfermedad de Alzheimer). En este programa de BrightFocus Foundation, hay información y publicaciones disponibles sobre la enfermedad de Alzheimer (un buen número de estos materiales están disponibles en inglés). 1-855-345-6237 www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers

Recursos:

  • Entendiendo la Enfermedad de Alzheimer: No Es Simple Olvido
  • Permaneciendo Seguro: La Deambulación y el Paciente con Alzheimer
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Research Review newsletter (disponible sólo en inglés)
  • La Seguridad y el Conductor Adulto Mayor
  • Páginas de datos sobre tratamientos, vida sana, preguntas frecuentes, y mucho más

Observación: Las siguientes organizaciones no están afiliadas a BrightFocus Foundation, y BrightFocus no respalda los programas o productos que éstas ofrecen. Algunas de estas organizaciones podrían cobrar honorarios por sus servicios y asesoramiento.

Agingcare.com. Comunidad en línea que proporciona apoyo a los cuidadores de familiares de adultos mayores con la enfermedad de Alzheimer y otras necesidades especiales. 239-594-3222 www.agingcare.com

Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) (Centro de educación y referencia sobre la enfermedad de Alzheimer). Proporciona información y servicios por medio del Instituto Nacional sobre el Envejecimiento, que forma parte de los Institutos Nacionales de Salud del gobierno federal de los Estados Unidos. 1-800-438-4380 www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers

Alzheimers.net. Foro y blog para los cuidadores de Alzheimer. 1-888-704-7779 www.alzheimers.net

The Alzheimer’s Store. Ofrece productos para pacientes con la enfermedad de Alzheimer y para las personas que cuidan de ellos. 1-800-752-3238 www.alzstore.com

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) (Asociación americana de personas jubiladas). Una organización de afiliados sin fines de lucro que ayuda a las personas mayores de 50 años. Dentro de sus servicios ofrece el Caregiving Resource Center (Centro de Recursos para el Cuidado) 1-888-687-2277 www.aarp.org

Benefits Check Up (Evaluación de beneficios). Un servicio del National Council on Aging (NCOA). (Consejo Nacional sobre el Envejecimiento) que ayuda a las personas a entender los beneficios disponibles del gobierno federal, estatal y programas locales. 202-479-1200 www.benefitscheckup.org

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – (Centros para servicios de cuidado y auxilio médico). Agencia federal queofrece información sobre hospitales, hogares de adultos mayores y servicios de atención domiciliaria. www.cms.gov

Eldercare Locator (Localizador de centros de cuidado para ancianos). Directorio de servicios de la administración federal sobre el envejecimiento para los adultos mayores y sus familias. 1-800-677-1116 www.eldercare.gov

Fall Prevention Center of Excellence (Centro de excelencia para la prevención de caídas). Recursos sobre la prevención de caídas y para convertir su hogar en un lugar seguro. www.stopfalls.org

The Joint Commission (Comisión conjunta). Directorio de organizaciones acreditadas del cuidado de la salud. 630-792-5800 www.qualitycheck.org

Medicaid (Auxilio médico). Es un programa administrado por cada estado del seguro de salud y otros beneficios, entre ellos de vivienda asistida, para las personas de bajos ingresos. El departamento de salud de cada estado establece sus propias normas respecto a la elegibilidad y los servicios. www.medicaid.gov

Medicare (Cuidado médico). Es un programa de seguro médico del gobierno federal para las personas mayores de 65 años. 1-800-633-4227 TTY: 1-877-486-2048 www.medicare.gov

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (Academia nacional de abogados sobre leyes de adultos mayores, Inc.). Es una base de datos de abogados de derechos de los adultos mayores quienes se especializan en temas legales de las personas mayores y las personas con necesidades especiales. 703-942-5711 www.naela.org

National Adult Day Services Association (Asociación nacional de servicios diurnos para el adulto). Proporciona una lista de servicios diurnos para adultos en las comunidades locales. 1-877-745-1440 www.nadsa.org

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (Asociación nacional de administradores de atención geriátrica profesional). Especialistas en gerontología que ofrecen servicios profesionales y asesoramiento sobre el cuidado de los adultos mayores. 520-881-8008 www.caremanager.org

National Center for Assisted Living (Centro nacional para la vida asistida). Organización que representa a las comunidades de vida asistida y a su personal. 202-842-4444 www.ncal.org

National Institute on Aging (NIA) Information Center – (Instituto nacional sobre el envejecimiento – centro de información). Ofrece un sitio en internet NIHSeniorHealth, especialmente diseñado para mayores. 1-800-222-2225 TTY: 1-800-222-4225 www.nia.nih.gov www.nihseniorhealth.gov

National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification (Centro nacional de recursos de apoyo y modificación arquitectónica de la vivienda). Organización sin fines de lucro con base en la universidad que ofrece una extensa biblioteca con recursos para la modificación de vivienda (silla salvaescaleras, descargas automáticas de sanitario, barras de apoyo, etc.). 213-740-1364 www.homemods.org

National Respite Locator Service (Servicio nacional de búsqueda de relevo temporal). Ofrece información y ayuda para localizar servicios de cuidado de relevo temporal en las comunidades locales. 919-490-5577 x 223 www.archrespite.org/respitelocator

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) – (Programa de cuidado integral para adultos mayores). Iniciativa federal-estatal que combina los beneficios de Medicare y Medicaid para pagar el costo de las necesidades de atención a largo plazo de los pacientes de Alzheimer. Sólo está disponible en algunos estados; los requisitos de elegibilidad pueden variar. 1-800-633-4227 www.pace4you.org

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) – (Programa de asistencia del seguro estatal de salud). Un programa nacional para ayudar a los beneficiarios de Medicare a identificar los servicios locales de salud y asistencia. www.shiptalk.org

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – (Departamento de asuntos de los veteranos de los Estados Unidos). Servicios de salud y beneficios para veteranos militares de Estados Unidos. 1-800-827-1000 www.va.gov

Para obtener más información, visite nuestro sitio web:
www.brightfocus.org/espanol
O llame al: 1-855-345-6237

For more information, visit our website:
www.brightfocus.org/ADRresources

BrightFocus está a la vanguardia de la salud cerebral y ocular, impulsando la investigación innovadora en todo el mundo y promoviendo una mejor salud a través de nuestros tres programas:

Alzheimer’s Disease Research Investigación sobre la Enfermedad de Alzheimer
Macular Degeneration Research Investigación sobre la Degeneración Macular
National Glaucoma Research Investigación Nacional sobre el Glaucoma

Citation

http://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/news/como-manejar-la-tension

Copyright BrightFocus Foundation

 

Alzheimer’s Disease and Practical Tips for Daily Life

(UCSF Memory and Aging Center) Are you caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease?  Here are some practical tips from the UCSF Memory and Aging Center that can really help. First and foremost, do your best to:

  • Facilitate their performance.
  • Keep the person as active as possible.
  • Focus on their abilities.
  • Avoid distress between you and the person.
  • If a lack of motivation is the barrier to performing a task, consider offering a reward for desired behaviors.
  • Give yourself a break from time to time.

Bathing

If the person becomes difficult to bathe, try this:

  1. A sponge bath in the tub or on a chair instead of a shower.
  2. Talk to your loved one in a soothing voice while bathing and talk through each step you take.
  3. Let your loved one do as much as possible.
  4. Plan the bath or shower for the time of day when the person with FTD is at their best.
  5. Bathe every couple of days instead of every day.
  6. Don’t force anything.

Dressing

Dressing is something your loved one may be able to do for a relatively long time. It might take them longer than it used to; but if they are safe, let them do it themselves, even if it takes all morning.

Try this:

  1. Find clothes with larger buttons or replacing closures with Velcro.
  2. Look for pants or skirts with elastic pull-on waists.
  3. Try shoes that fit well, stay on, and don’t require laces (to prevent tripping).
  4. Consider placing a baby monitor in their room. It will allow them to be more independent while you are nearby and alert to problems.
  5. If getting undergarments off is a problem, use wrap around skirts as clothes.

Driving

Driving tends to be one of the most contentious issues in relationships with people with neurodegenerative disease.

Try this:

  1. Get a steering wheel lock or other safety device that prevents someone with the ignition keys to take the car.
  2. If the person with dementia is upset about losing their license, take them to the DMV to get pick up the forms to get reinstated. Drive home and tell them that when the forms are completed, you can go back and file them. Rarely do the forms get completed, but your loved one usually feels better for having gone through the exercise of getting the forms.
  3. For people with language difficulties, it might be helpful for the person to carry a letter from the doctor explaining their language difficulties.

Finances

Sometimes the person only needs some support to continue managing the finances. If you can offer some support without taking over the activity, this is usually very rewarding for both patients and families. If they lack interest and you feel overwhelmed to look after them, consider asking for help. Disease can cause poor judgment which can lead to overspending (which we mention also under shopping) and other difficulties.

Try this:

  1. Involve your bank manager, a family member or a friend that you can trust.
  2. Limit access to one card/bank account only.
  3. Frequently change passwords on computers to prevent over-use or over-spending online.
  4. Consider disabling computers or removing hard drives to prevent family members from using the computer.

Grooming

If personal hygiene and grooming get neglected, look for ways to simplify the process.

Try this:

  1. Try a simple haircut that is easy to manage.
  2. Switch to an electric razor which has less risk of cuts and is easier to hold.
  3. When helping with grooming tasks, move slowly and explain what you are doing in a calm voice so that you don’t startle them.
  4. When washing the face, consider cold creams or disposable face wipes that have cleanser already in them – it will reduce the number of steps needed to finish the task.
  5. Try oral swabs if brushing becomes too difficult.
  6. If the patient is physically capable of performing these tasks but uninterested, you can try rewarding the person for completing a grooming task with a favored item or treat.

Household Chores

Decline in doing house chores can be caused by lack of motivation or by planning difficulties. Planning difficulties usually happen because the patient cannot cope with the several steps that are involved in a complex task.

Try this:

  1. Break down larger tasks into small steps like
    1. setting the table
    2. stirring
    3. preparing one dish at a time
    4. fetching, peeling, boiling, draining, allowing to cool, seasoning, etc.
  2. Find simpler tasks that the person can complete safely (such as folding laundry).
  3. Reward the person with pleasurable activities or healthy treats after finishing a chore.

Shopping

Patients with the behavioral forms of dementia may have difficulties in controlling their shopping habits, for instance they may want to buy things they do not need, spend more money than necessary or shoplift. Strategies to control impulsive shopping are closely related to the strategies for controlling finances better.

Try this:

  1. Limit the amount of money easily accessible.
  2. Take some business cards explaining your family member’s problems along with you when out in public to discretely hand out to staff in stores, restaurants and banks. These cards can be made on a home computer and can say something like: “My loved-one has an Alzheimer’s-like disorder; thank you for your patience” (click here to download cards you can print).
  3. If shoplifting is a problem, it may be helpful to let the store management know in advance so that incidents can be handled discretely.
  4. Avoid letting the person shop alone.

If the patient has difficulties in understanding the names of the products, fruits or vegetables, they might avoid shopping altogether even if they used to.

Try this:

  1. Make a list of pictures or packages to simplify comprehension and motivate them to do a familiar activity.

Sleeping

Managing your loved one’s sleep problems will ensure that both of you will get more rest.

Try this:

  1. Provide at least a little exercise every day – even if it is just a walk around the yard.
  2. Engage them in a quiet and calming activity before bedtime.
  3. Keep a consistent schedule of wake and sleep times.
  4. Give your loved one tasks to complete – folding the laundry, folding napkins, sorting things – to keep them active during the day.
  5. Keep your loved one hydrated during the day but avoid giving them a lot of fluids before bed time to decrease the likelihood of accidents and/or the need to get up during the night.
  6. Avoid a lot of TV watching during the day—it usually leads to napping.
  7. Consider hiring someone to sleep over a couple of nights a week to relieve you of night time duty.

Supervision and Safety

It can be a difficult to decide when a patient’s activities might be hazardous to themselves or others. Some patients may become less vigilant to risks (crossing a busy street, for example) or show poor judgment (leave the house without telling you). Many patients have trouble acknowledging the risks and hazards and may resist suggestions for increased safety and security. The following are strategies that may be employed.

University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto, Canada put together this list of home safety tips and recommendations for people who have problems with their vision due to dementia.

  1. Find a companion for the patient
    • Hire a college student to accompany the patient on walks, trips to the movies, or lunch.
    • Network with religious and social organizations to find the right person.
    • Hire an aide through a private agency or your local county health services.
    • Set up a schedule with other family members, so there is not one single family member shouldering the entire burden.
  2. Take the patient to work with you if not too disruptive. Some patients may be able to participate in tasks or be content to “hang out.”
  3. Hire a social worker or case manager for help in locating resources.
  4. Try a day program with an environment and activities that are appealing to the patient. Work with the day program staff to help them understand the needs of your loved one.
  5. Have an up-to-date picture of the patient that can be given to local law enforcement in the event the patient gets lost.
  6. The patient can be registered with the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® program. This is a nationwide identification program that provides assistance when a person with dementia becomes lost.
  7. Consult a legal expert for advice in setting up trusts, protecting assets, and obtaining financial assistance (state or federal) for caregiving costs.
  8. Secured (locked) units are an option in the event there are safety concerns for the patient or others.

Talking

As the disease progresses, the patient may lose the ability to understand you or to be understood. Simplify what you say and closely observe their behavior for clues.

Try this:

  1. Use simple words and short sentences with a calm and soothing tone of voice.
  2. Maintain a respectful approach and avoid speaking to the person like they are a child.
  3. Minimize distractions like the television and radio when talking so that your loved one can focus on the conversation.
  4. Include your loved one in the conversation even if they don’t or can’t respond. They may very well be able to hear and understand but not be able to respond.
  5. Try engaging them by completing the following sentences:
    • I remember when…
    • Thank you for…
    • I’m proud of…
  6. Don’t rush your loved one – give them time to express themselves.
  7. Try to read the body language for clues.
  8. Reading and writing may also be affected, so offer to help proofread or copy letters for them so they stay in touch with friends and family.
  9. Aphasia identification cards explaining that the person has a language problem can aid in communicating the person’s condition to others.

Using the Telephone

Using the telephone can be difficult for people with diseases affecting language as they may feel pressured, but those with behavioral variants may abuse the telephone in other ways – online purchases, inappropriate calls, messages not received, etc. People with memory impairment might forget to write down messages or important information.

Try this:

  1. Help them prepare a script to be used when they make a telephone call to reduce the stress of coming up with the words.
  2. Contact your telephone service provider to block incoming calls from telemarketers and sales people
  3. Lock the keypad on your cellphone to prevent outgoing calls.
  4. Have people contact you on your cellphone where they can leave a message you will receive.

Visitors

Having friends and family visit can help relieve social isolation and depression, but be aware that visits can cause fatigue or agitation in your loved one from too much stimulation. You can prepare visitors ahead of time by printing or emailing sections of this website which explain the disease.

Try this:

  1. Pay attention to how your loved one responds to visitors.
    • Are they welcomed?
    • Are visits tiresome?
    • Do they make your loved one more restless or agitated?
  2. Explain to visitors:
    • How to approach.
    • How to talk to the patient.
    • What to expect from the patient: patients may seem apathetic or disengaged from the visitors. Encourage visitors not to take this personally. The visit can be helpful to the patient and the caregiver, even if the patient seems disinterested. Conversely, inappropriate behavior toward visitors can emerge; if this is likely, warn the visitors in advance and give them an “exit strategy” if it becomes too uncomfortable for them.
  3. Keep visits short without any expectation of “entertaining” the guest.
  4. Try having visiting hours scheduled into your daily routine and use that time to play games, go for a walk or do something else that your loved one finds enjoyable.
  5. If you have a meal with friends, prepare them for any changes in eating behavior in advance, so that you do not feel embarrassed. You will be surprised how understanding some friends can be.
  6. If the patient gets upset when people leave, try leaving as a meal is served to the patient. The meal often provides enough distraction so that the patient does not get distressed by the caregiver or visitors leaving.
Citation

http://memory.ucsf.edu/caregiving/tips

© 2016 The Regents of the University of California

 

Adapting Activities for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

(National Institutes of Health) Doing things we enjoy gives us pleasure and adds meaning to our lives. People with AD need to be active and do things they enjoy. However, don’t expect too much. It’s not easy for them to plan their days and do different tasks.

Here are two reasons:

  • They may have trouble deciding what to do each day. This could make them fearful and worried or quiet and withdrawn.
  • They may have trouble starting tasks. Remember, the person is not being lazy. He or she might need help organizing the day or doing an activity.

Daily Activities

Plan activities that the person with AD enjoys. He or she can be a part of the activity or just watch. Also, you don’t always have to be the “activities director.” For information on adult day care services that might help you, see “Adult day care services”.

Here are things you can do to help the person enjoy an activity:

  • Match the activity with what the person with AD can do.
  • Choose activities that can be fun for everyone.
  • Help the person get started.
  • Decide if he or she can do the activity alone or needs help.
  • Watch to see if the person gets frustrated.
  • Make sure he or she feels successful and has fun.
  • Let him or her watch if that is more enjoyable.

The person with AD can do different activities each day. This keeps the day interesting and fun. The information below may give you some ideas.

Household chores

Doing household chores can boost the person’s self-esteem. When the person helps you, don’t forget to say “thank you.”

The person could:

  • Wash dishes, set the table, or prepare food.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Polish shoes.
  • Sort mail and clip coupons.
  • Sort socks and fold laundry.
  • Sort recycling materials or other things.

Cooking and baking

Cooking and baking can bring the person with AD a lot of joy.

He or she might help do the following:

  • Decide on what is needed to prepare the dish.
  • Make the dish.
  • Measure, mix, and pour.
  • Tell someone else how to prepare a recipe.
  • Taste the food.
  • Watch others prepare food.

Children

Being around children also can be fun. It gives the person with AD someone to talk with and may bring back happy memories. It also can help the person realize how much he or she still can love others and can still be loved.

Here are some things the person might enjoy doing with children:

  • Play a simple board game.
  • Read stories or books.
  • Visit family members who have small children.
  • Walk in the park or around schoolyards.
  • Go to sports or school events that involve young people.
  • Talk about fond memories from childhood.

Music and dancing

Music can bring back happy memories and feelings. Some people feel the rhythm and may want to dance. Others enjoy listening to or talking about their favorite music. Even if the person with AD has trouble finding the right words to speak, he or she still may be able to sing songs from the past.

Consider the following musical activities:

  • Play CDs, tapes, or records.
  • Talk about the music and the singer.
  • Ask what he or she was doing when the song was popular.
  • Talk about the music and past events.
  • Sing or dance to well-known songs.
  • Play musical games like “Name That Tune.”
  • Attend a concert or musical program.

Pets

Many people with AD enjoy pets, such as dogs, cats, or birds. Pets may help “bring them to life.” Pets also can help people feel more loved and less worried.

Suggested activities with pets include:

  • Care for, feed, or groom the pet.
  • Walk the pet.
  • Sit and hold the pet.

Gardening

Gardening is a way to be part of nature. It also may help people remember past days and fun times. Gardening can help the person focus on what he or she still can do.

Here are some suggested gardening activities:

  • Take care of indoor or outdoor plants.
  • Plant flowers and vegetables.
  • Water the plants when needed.
  • Talk about how much the plants are growing.

Going Out

Early in the disease, people with AD may still enjoy the same kinds of outings they enjoyed in the past. Keep going on these outings as long as you are comfortable doing them.

Plan outings for the time of day when the person is at his or her best. Keep outings from becoming too long. You want to note how tired the person with AD gets after a certain amount of time (1/2 hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, etc.).

The person might enjoy outings to a:

  • Favorite restaurant
  • Zoo, park, or shopping mall
  • Swimming pool (during a slow time of day at the pool)
  • Museum, theater, or art exhibits for short trips

'My family member has Alzheimer's disease. He might say or do things that are unexpected. Thank you for your understanding.'Remember that you can use a business-size card, as shown below, to tell others about the person’s disease. Sharing the information with store clerks or restaurant staff can make outings more comfortable for everyone.

Eating Out

Going out to eat can be a welcome change. But, it also can have some challenges. Planning can help. You need to think about the layout of the restaurant, the menu, the noise level, waiting times, and the helpfulness of staff. Below are some tips for eating out with the person who has AD.

Before choosing a restaurant, ask yourself:

  • Does the person with AD know the restaurant well?
  • Is it quiet or noisy most of time?
  • Are tables easy to get to? Do you need to wait before you can be seated?
  • Is the service quick enough to keep the person from getting restless?
  • Does the restroom meet the person’s needs?
  • Are foods the person with AD likes on the menu?
  • Is the staff understanding and helpful?

Before going to the restaurant, decide:

  • If it is a good day to go.
  • When is the best time to go. Going out earlier in the day may be best, so the person is not too tired. Service may be quicker, and there may be fewer people. If you decide to go later, try to get the person to take a nap first.
  • What you will take with you. You may need to take utensils, a towel, wipes, or toilet items that the person already uses. If so, make sure this is OK with the restaurant.

At the restaurant:

  • Tell the waiter/waitress about any special needs, such as extra spoons, bowls, or napkins.
  • Ask for a table near the washroom and in a quiet area.
  • Seat the person with his or her back to the busy areas.
  • Help the person choose his or her meal, if needed. Suggest food you know the person likes. Read parts of the menu or show the person a picture of the food. Limit the number of choices.
  • Ask the waiter/waitress to fill glasses half full or leave the drinks for you to serve.
  • Order some finger food or snacks to hold the attention of the person with AD.
  • Go with the person to the restroom. Go into the stall if the person needs help.

Traveling

Taking the person with AD on a trip is a challenge. Traveling can make the person more worried and confused. Planning can make travel easier for everyone. Below are some tips that you may find helpful.

Before you leave on the trip:

  • Talk with your doctor about medicines to calm someone who gets upset while traveling.
  • Find someone to help you at the airport or train station.
  • Keep important documents with you in a safe place. These include: insurance cards, passports, doctor’s name and phone number, list of medicines, and a copy of medical records.
  • Pack items the person enjoys looking at or holding for comfort.
  • Travel with another family member or friend.
  • Take an extra set of clothing in a carry-on bag.

After you arrive:

  • Allow lots of time for each thing you want to do. Do not plan too many activities.
  • Plan rest periods.
  • Follow a routine like the one you use at home. For example, try to have the person eat, rest, and go to bed at the same time he or she does at home.
  • Keep a well-lighted path to the toilet, and leave the bathroom light on all night.
  • Be prepared to cut your visit short.

People with memory problems may wander around a place they don’t know well (see “How to cope with wandering”).

In case someone with AD gets lost:

  • Make sure they wear or have something with them that tells who they are, such as an ID bracelet.
  • Carry a recent photo of the person with you on the trip.

Spiritual Activities

Like you, the person with AD may have spiritual needs. If so, you can help the person stay part of his or her faith community. This can help the person feel connected to others and remember pleasant times.

Here are some tips for helping a person with AD who has spiritual needs:

  • Involve the person in spiritual activities that he or she has known well. These might include worship, religious or other readings, sacred music, prayer, and holiday rituals.
  • Tell people in your faith community that the person has AD. Encourage them to talk with the person and show him or her that they still care.
  • Play religious or other music that is important to the person. It may bring back old memories. Even if the person with AD has a problem finding the right words to speak, he or she still may be able to sing songs or hymns from the past.

Holidays

Many caregivers have mixed feelings about holidays. They may have happy memories of the past. But, they also may worry about the extra demands that holidays make on their time and energy.

Here are some suggestions to help you find a balance between doing many holiday-related things and resting:

  • Celebrate holidays that are important to you. Include the person with AD as much as possible.
  • Understand that things will be different. Be realistic about what you can do.
  • Ask friends and family to visit. Limit the number of visitors at any one time. Plan visits when the person usually is at his or her best (see the section below about “Visitors”).
  • Avoid crowds, changes in routine, and strange places that may make the person with AD feel confused or nervous.
  • Do your best to enjoy yourself. Find time for the holiday activities you like to do. Ask a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you’re out.
  • Make sure there is a space where the person can rest when he or she goes to larger gatherings such as weddings or family reunions.

Visitors

Visitors are important to people with AD. They may not always remember who visitors are, but they often enjoy the company.

Here are ideas to share with a person planning to visit someone with AD:

  • Plan the visit when the person with AD is at his or her best.
  • Consider bringing along some kind of activity, such as a well-known book or photo album to look at. This can help if the person is bored or confused and needs to be distracted. But, be prepared to skip the activity if it is not needed.
  • Be calm and quiet. Don’t use a loud voice or talk to the person as if he or she were a child.
  • Respect the person’s personal space, and don’t get too close.
  • Make eye contact and call the person by name to get his or her attention.
  • Remind the person who you are if he or she doesn’t seem to know you.
  • Don’t argue if the person is confused. Respond to the feelings that they express. Try to distract the person by talking about something different.
  • Remember not to take it personally if the person doesn’t recognize you, is unkind, or gets angry. He or she is acting out of confusion.
Citation

http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/caring-person-ad/adapting-activities-people-ad

Page Last Updated: January 22, 2015

National Institute on Aging

 

Relieving Stress & Anxiety: Resources for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

(NIA.org) Caregivers face a variety of challenges when a loved one develops Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. This resource list offers a selection of articles, books, and other materials that may help caregivers cope with their own stress, anxiety, and emotions.

Some resources on this list are free; others must be purchased. To buy an item, please contact the publisher to confirm price and payment information. Many items are also available from traditional and online bookstores.

Care for the Caregiver: Managing Stress (PDF, 175K) (2013, 19 p.)

This booklet for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease outlines 10 warning signs of severe caregiver stress, including depression and sleep problems. It discusses the importance of a positive attitude and suggests strategies for managing and reducing stress, including meditating, doing something enjoyable every day, exercising, and maintaining a sense of humor. Tips for combatting negative thoughts are also given.

Published by BrightFocus Foundation. Phone: 1-800-437-2423. E-mail: info@brightfocus.org. Free online access.

Caregivers (2009 video, 49 minutes)

“Caregivers” is one of four parts of “The Alzheimer’s Project,” a multimedia public health series co-presented by HBO Documentary Films and the National Institute on Aging in association with the Alzheimer’s Association, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, and the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back Alzheimer’s Initiative. “Caregivers” highlights the daily sacrifices and successes of primary caregivers of loved ones descending into debilitating stages of dementia.

Produced by HBO Documentary Films. Free online access.

Caregiving and Ambiguous Loss (2013, 2 p.)

Many caregivers of people with dementia experience “ambiguous loss,” a feeling that comes from caring for a person who is physically present but mentally and psychologically absent. This feeling can lead to depression, anxiety, and other health problems. This fact sheet offers tips for coping with the ambiguity of caring for a person with memory loss.

Available from the Family Caregiver Alliance. Phone: 1-800-445-8106. E-mail: info@caregiver.org. Free online access.

Caregiving Resource Center (2014)

This website from AARP offers information, tools, and tips for caregivers, including advice on stress management and caregiver support.

Published by AARP. Phone: 1-888-687-2277. E-mail: member@aarp.org. Free online access.

Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging (2013, 104 p.)

This free guide helps caregivers understand and cope with the many challenges of caregiving. Among other topics, it offers tips for caregivers to address their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. It lists specific ways to ask for help.

Published by the National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. Phone: 1-800-438-4380. E-mail: adear@nia.nih.gov. Free online access.

Caring for Yourself (PDF, 672K)(2012, 2 p.)

This online tip sheet suggests ways for caregivers to take care of themselves and where to ask for help. It briefly discusses the importance of asking for help, offers ways to bolster one’s own feelings, and provides tips to meet spiritual needs.

Published by the National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. Phone: 1-800-438-4380. E-mail: adear@nia.nih.gov. Free online access.

Dementia Caregivers Share Their Stories: A Support Group in a Book (2005, 288 p.)

This book by Lynda A. Markut and Anatole Crane presents family caregivers’ stories about caregiving challenges. The caregivers, all members of an Alzheimer’s/dementia support group, were interviewed about their experiences, feelings, and ways they coped with their caregiving role. Topics include early symptoms and diagnosis, behavior changes, emotions, and coping with losses.

Published by Vanderbilt University Press. Phone: 1-800-627-7377. E-mail: vupress@vanderbilt.edu. Hardcover $69.95, softcover $24.95, e-book $23.99.

Dementia, Caregiving and Controlling Frustration (2003)

This fact sheet offers detailed suggestions for recognizing signs of frustration that can arise when trying to change an uncontrollable situation. Caregivers can learn to recognize what is and is not within their control and to respond appropriately. Strategies to cope with frustration, such as leaving the room briefly and counting to 10 slowly, and to adapt one’s thinking are given.

Available from the Family Caregiver Alliance. Phone: 1-800-445-8106. E-mail: info@caregiver.org. Free online access.

Depression and Caregiving (2003, 4 p.)

Many caregivers of people with dementia suffer from depression. This tip sheet describes how to spot the symptoms of depression and what to do if you think you might be depressed. Medication, psychotherapy, and other treatments are described. Available in English, Spanish, and Chinese, as well as Korean and Vietnamese.

Available from the Family Caregiver Alliance. Phone: 1-800-445-8106. E-mail: info@caregiver.org. Free online access.

Hit Pause: Helping Dementia Families Deal with Anger (PDF, 2.1M) (2006, 12 p.)

This booklet guides professionals to help caregivers who are angry with the care recipient, other family members, or professionals they feel are unresponsive or insensitive. The booklet presents typical scenarios and suggested responses for professionals to help caregivers maintain self-control and deal more effectively with difficult circumstances. Tips to help caregivers deal with sadness and guilt are also offered.

Available from the Duke Family Support Program. Phone: 1-800-672-4213 or 1-919-660-7510. E-mail: lisa.gwyther@duke.edu. $2.

Lessons Learned: Shared Experiences in Coping (PDF, 151K) (1999).

This booklet by Edna Ballard and Cornelia Poer documents the experiences of a support group of people caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. Filled with short stories and advice, it covers topics such as getting a diagnosis, finding support services, and making decisions about treatment, care, and living arrangements. The positive and negative aspects of caregiving are discussed.

Available from the Duke Family Support Program. Phone: 1-800-672-4213 or 1-919-660-7510. E-mail: lisa.gwyther@duke.edu. $10.

Living with Grief: Alzheimer’s Disease (2004, 290 p.)

This book explains how hospice principles can improve care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Along with background information and personal accounts about Alzheimer’s, the book presents information to help caregivers cope with loss both before and after the death of a loved one with the disease. The challenges of providing hospice care for people with dementia are also addressed.

Published by Hospice Foundation of America. Phone: 1-800-854-3402 or 1-202-457-5811. E-mail: haoffice@hospicefoundation.org. $12.48.

Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories (2005, 136 p.)

This book is a “portable support group” that shares caregivers’ stories as a way to offer comfort and to assure other caregivers that they are not alone. Six stories are from author Carol Bradley Bursack’s experience as a caregiver for a neighbor and six family members. The others are from caregivers across the United States. The author’s Minding Our Elders website has more resources and information.

Published by McCleery and Sons Publishing. Available from online booksellers. Paperback $12.53.

Mom’s OK, She Just Forgets: The Alzheimer’s Journey from Denial to Acceptance (2006, 182 p.)

This book by Evelyn McLay and Ellen Young focuses on denial in families caring for a loved one with dementia. Denial may seem to be an acceptable coping mechanism when faced with an incurable disease, but the failure to accept reality can make things worse for the person with dementia and his or her family. The authors suggest behaviors, tools, and techniques for moving beyond denial to loving action and an improved attitude.

Published by Prometheus Books. Phone: 1-800-421-0351. Paperback $17.98.

Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir (2007, 208 p.)

This book by Carol O’Dell tells the story of a daughter coping with role reversal when her sick, aging mother moves in. As she struggles to balance the ever-increasing demands of her mother with those of her three children and husband, the author must find time for her own needs. This is not a how-to book on caregiving, but an honest exploration of the impact of caregiving on relationships, beliefs, and lives.

Available from online booksellers. Phone: 1-904-403-2186. E-mail: carolodell@gmail.com.

National Respite Locator

Respite care helps caregivers get a break, hold a job, and handle stress. This national searchable database helps caregivers find respite of all types—in the home, in a facility, or at a day care center. The service also has a free guide, The ABCs of Respite: A Consumer Guide for Family Caregivers. Technical assistance for respite providers is offered as well.

Available from of the ARCH National Respite Nework and Resource Center. Phone: 1-919-490-5577. E-mail: mmathers@chtop.org. Free online access.

Pressure Points: Alzheimer’s and Anger (PDF, 151K) (2000, 70 p.)

This book discusses the stress and anger that are common among caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Topics include defining anger, identifying risk factors for anger in caregivers, maintaining control, helping children deal with anger, coping when the person with Alzheimer’s is angry, and dealing with abuse in a home or care facility.

Available from the Duke Family Support Program. Phone: 1-800-672-4213 or 1-919-660-7510. E-mail: lisa.gwyther@duke.edu. $10.

iCare Family (website)

This website offers online information and stress management training for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. The NIA-funded project includes online training videos and articles that cover dealing with stress, how to relax, managing difficult behaviors, communication skills, and other topics. Developed in collaboration with Stanford University and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Produced by Photozig Inc. Phone: 1-650-694-7496. E-mail: icare@photozig.com. Free online access.

Strength in Caring: Giving Power Back to the Alzheimer’s Caregiver (2005)

This book by Mark Matloff is designed to help families and caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s strengthen themselves emotionally to cope with the demands they must face. It addresses a range of topics, including legal aspects of Alzheimer’s, medical facts, coping with grief, managing stress, and building happiness.

Available from online booksellers. Paperback $18.

Surviving the Waves of Dementia Care Grief (PDF, 2.0M) (2011, 3 p.)

This article in the summer-fall 2011 issue of Care ADvantage magazine (p. 17-19) describes how grief unfolds for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, from the time of diagnosis until the time of death. It discusses how grief can come and go and can change in intensity. Ways to cope, such as keeping a journal and maintaining an exercise routine, are offered.

Published by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Phone: 1-866-232-8484. Free online access.

Take Care of Yourself: 10 Ways to be a Healthier Caregiver (PDF, 866K) (2012, 6 p.)

Caregivers may be so overwhelmed that they neglect their own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This online booklet lists the signs of caregiver stress and get suggestions for managing stress and taking positive action.

Published by the Alzheimer’s Association. Phone: 1-800-272-3900. E-mail: info@alz.org. Free online access.

Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers (2012, 4 p.)

This tip sheet can help caregivers think carefully about sources of stress, barriers to reducing stress, and ways to relieve stress. It offers concrete suggestions for developing achievable goals and solutions, such as exercising or talking to a doctor.

Available from the Family Caregiver Alliance. Phone: 1-800-445-8106. E-mail: info@caregiver.org. Free online access.

Wait a Minute! When Anger Gets Too Much (PDF, 151K) (2003, 6 p.)

This pamphlet aims to help caregivers and family members of people with dementia deal with anger and frustration. It includes short scenarios and advice from social workers for dealing with anger at the person with dementia, family members, other care providers, and overwhelming circumstances.

Available from the Duke Family Support Program. Phone: 1-800-672-4213 or 1-919-660-7510. E-mail: lisa.gwyther@duke.edu. $2.

When a Family Member Has Dementia: Steps to Becoming a Resilient Caregiver (2006, 184 p.)

This book by clinical psychologist Susan McCurry offers advice to help caregivers become more resilient as they deal with the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia. Information is based on the author’s program called “The Dementia Dance” or DANCE, an acronym for five core principles: D: Don’t Argue, A: Accept the Disease, N: Nurture Yourself, C: Create Novel Solutions, and E: Enjoy the Moment. Vignettes from the author’s practice illustrate these principles.

Published by Praeger. Phone: 1-800-368-6868. E-mail: customerservice@abc-clio.com. $39.95; call for e-book price.

Citation

https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/relieving-stress-anxiety-resources-alzheimers-caregivers

National Institute on Aging

 

Alzheimer’s Disease and Planning for Care

(UCSF Memory and Aging Center) The first step in planning care is getting an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Seek out a dementia clinic at a university hospital or ask your doctor to refer you to a neurologist with expertise in dementia and neurodegenerative disease.

Educate Yourself

Learn what you can about dementia and neurodegenerative disease. Understanding what is happening to your loved one will help you cope better with the changes and behavioral symptoms of the illness and help you to communicate with the medical team providing care. Accepting that the behavioral symptoms are part of the disease process will help you direct your energy toward workable solutions. When looking online, read well-known medical sites like the National Institutes of Health.

Join a Support Group

Talking with other caregivers who have gone or are going through a similar experience to yours can provide emotional support and practical advice. Contacts and support groups can be found through online communities or local organizations.

Assess the Situation

An objective analysis of your health, medical coverage, emotional state and other commitments will help you figure out how much you can and cannot do yourself, and what type of outside support will be needed to ensure your loved one’s health and safety.

Write down your assessment of:

  • Your loved one’s ability to function independently, both cognitively and emotionally.
  • The safety and adaptability of your home or physical environment.
  • Your own health and emotional resources.
  • Your other responsibilities at work, at home, to other family members and in the community.
  • The availability of family and friends to give you support and to share the care.
  • Your financial resources, including insurance coverage and, if the person had been working, private disability insurance and the federal program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
  • Late stage preparation for you and your family member.
  • End-of-life preparation for you and your loved one.

A written document helps to avoid neglecting important issues. Review and update these observations periodically to help you determine if you need to make changes along the way.

Keep Good Records

Keep up-to-date records of emergency numbers, doctors, daily medications, special diets, back-up people with contact information, behavioral triggers and other pertinent information relating to your loved one’s care. Consider making copies of this record for the medical team and another trusted caregiver in case the information is needed in an emergency and you are unavailable.

Develop a Care Team

Keep a list of people you can contact for help, emotional support or respite. Use these pages to explain to others that the seemingly bizarre behaviors you cope with are part of the brain disease. Your list may be short, but don’t preclude people that can help by doing even small chores for you (grocery shopping, babysitting, dog walking, etc.). The critical thing is to be willing to accept help from others and tell them what you need.

Establish a Routine

A straightforward daily routine can be a stabilizer, especially for people who find change upsetting and confusing.

Hold a Family Conference

A formal meeting offers family members the chance to discuss the diagnosis and its likely progression, share caregiving responsibilities, and reduce misunderstandings and fears. It can help to have a member of the clergy, a professional care coordinator or a trusted friend serve as an impartial moderator. Let everyone know they can play a role, even if they are a thousand miles away, and help you, the primary family caregiver, from bearing the brunt of all the work all of the time.

Prepare for the End

Planning for the difficult decisions can make it much easier for the person with dementia and their family and caregivers to manage their healthcare, financial and legal affairs. Start early, so that you can be part of the process and share your wishes with the people who may need to make decisions on your behalf. It is vital that you think through what to do if you should be incapacitated.

Caregiving Resources

  • Printable list of online resources
  • Administration on Aging (AoA): The mission of AoA is to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective system of home and community-based services that helps elderly individuals maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities.
  • Aging in the Know: A health care site created by the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging (FHA).
  • AGS Updated Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults (2012): A medication guidelines and recommendations site created by the American Geriatrics Society Foundation.
  • alzheimers.gov is the government’s free information resource about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Alzheimer’s Association: The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center: The ADEAR Center website will help you find current, comprehensive Alzheimer’s disease (AD) information and resources from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
  • Alzheimer Research Forum: The Alzheimer Research Forum reports on the latest scientific findings from basic research to clinical trials; creates and maintains public databases of essential research data and reagents, and produces discussion forums to contribute to the global effort to cure Alzheimer’s disease.
  • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP): The AARP is a consumer group that posts policy statements and position papers.
  • American Geriatrics Society (AGS): AGS provides professional and consumer information.
  • Assisted Living: Personal Care: This is a checklist from the National Caregivers Library of personal and health care questions to ask when you and your loved one visit an assisted living facility
  • Assisted Living: Quality of Life: This is a checklist of questions from the National Caregivers Library dealing with socializing, meals, safety and other issues to consider when you and your loved one visit an assisted living facility.
  • Assisted Living: Costs and Contracts: This is a list of financial questions to ask when you and your loved one visit an assisted living facility.
  • California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR): CANHR is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to improving the choices, care and quality of life for California’s long term care consumers.
  • California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (CADCs): The CADCs effectively and efficiently improve AD health care delivery, provide specialized training and education to health care professionals and others, and advance the diagnosis and treatment of AD through a network of ten dementia care Centers of Excellence at California medical schools.
  • California Caregiver Resource Center: Information, education, respite, care planning and support for families and friends caring for adults with chronic, disabling health conditions.
  • CalQualityCare.org: This website provides information about long term care options and quality ratings for different providers in California.
  • CaringBridge: CaringBridge provides free, easy-to-create and use websites that connect people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends, making each health journey easier.
  • Caring Connections: Caring Connections, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), is a national consumer and community engagement initiative to improve care at the end of life, supported by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • Department of Health and Human Services Healthfinder: Health issues from food, safety, government health, prevention and self-care from children to seniors.
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Information about the DMV (of California).
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: Caregiver resource center for brain impaired adults, support groups, education, care planning, research and advocacy.
  • Medicare: Information about the federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older.
  • National Institute on Aging: The NIA has many free publications
  • Next Step in Care: Information and advice to help family caregivers and health care providers plan safe and smooth transitions for patients with careful planning, clear communication and ongoing coordination.
  • PayingForSeniorCare.com and Eldercare Financial Resource Locator Tool: this website helps families and caregivers locate information about long-term care resources for their loved ones and find the public and private programs available to assist in covering the cost of such care.
  • PubMED: PubMed, a free service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, includes approximately 20 million citations for biomedical literature.
  • Social Security information: general information about social security, legislation, benefits and public information resources.
  • UCSF Neurology Caregiver Corner: A listing of resources put together by a UCSF multidisciplinary group seeking to make information easily accessible for friends and family caregivers caring for someone with a neurological condition.
  • UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine: has a series of materials produced as part of the Caregivers Project to support family caregivers of loved ones with serious illness.
  • Whole Brain Atlas: A primer on neuroimaging and anatomy.
Citation

http://memory.ucsf.edu/caregiving/planning

© 2017 The Regents of the University of California

 

What Different Types of Dementia Are There?

(MedicalNewsToday) Dementia refers to a range of disorders that affect the brain. People with dementia typically have problems with thinking, reasoning, and problem solving.

Dementia can have a severe effect on memory, and some of its varieties can also lead to physical disabilities such as Parkinson’s disease.

Metabolic conditions, endocrine issues, nutritional deficiencies, and infections are some of the causes of different types of dementia.

While older people are more likely to experience dementia, it is not part of the ageing process and can affect younger people too.

Main Symptoms Associated with Each Dementia Type

Different types of dementia will share some symptoms, but other symptoms will be specific to the disease. These are some of the main types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia type, affecting between 60 and 80 percent of all people with dementia.

A doctor cannot officially diagnose a dementia type as Alzheimer’s, because they must view specific nerve cell damage in the brain that can only be examined after a person dies.

In the early stages, people with Alzheimer’s typically have difficulty remembering recent events or conversations, as well as names of people. They may also experience depression.

In time, people find it increasingly difficult to communicate, and their judgment may become impaired. They may feel disoriented and confusion. Their behavior could change, and physical activities such as swallowing and walking might become harder.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

This condition represents a number of brain diseases that are believed to be triggered by prion proteins, which cause problems throughout the body. Although a prion is neither a virus nor a bacterium, it can cause a disease.

Types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease include “mad cow disease.” The condition causes rapid memory, behavior, and movement changes. It is a rare and fatal condition.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

The symptoms can be similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, but people who have dementia with Lewy bodies may also experience sleep disturbances, visual hallucinations, and an unsteady walking pattern.

Frontotemporal Dementia

This condition can trigger changes in how people behave and how they relate to others. It can also cause problems with language and movement.

Frontotemporal dementia typically tends to appear in an individual at around 60 years of age, but it can appear as early as the 20s. It involves a loss of nerve cells.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is a motor system disorder. The hallmark signs include trembling, especially tremor in the hands. It can also involve depression and behavioral changes.

In the later stages, the individual may have difficulty speaking. Sleep disturbances might also occur.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s is a genetic disorder that results from a defect on chromosome 4. It can lead to mood changes, abnormal movements, and depression.

The person may experience an ongoing decline in thinking and reasoning skills. There could be slurred speech and problems with coordination. It tends to appear in individuals aged between 30 and 50 years old.

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia occurs when a person has dementia due to more than one cause, such as Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

This condition results when cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the brain, therefore causing pressure.

Symptoms can include memory loss, problems with movement, and the inability to control urination. It can happen at any age, but it is more common among older people.

Vascular Dementia

Also known as post-stroke dementia, this condition occurs after a person experiences bleeding or vessel blockage in the brain, known as a stroke. It affects a person’s thinking and physical movements.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, early symptoms may include an inability to organize, plan, or make decisions.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

This condition occurs due to a chronic deficiency of vitamin B1 or thiamine. It is most common in those who chronically abuse alcohol. The effects of alcohol and a poor diet are likely to contribute to the development of the condition.

The chief symptom is severely impaired memory, including long-term memory gaps, which the person may try to fill in with incorrect versions of what they think happened. This unintentional lying is known as confabulation.

Causes Associated with Dementia

Various factors can lead to different kinds of dementia, but they invariably involve some form of damage to the nerve cells. How dementia affects people also depends on where in the brain the damage occurs.

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, but a person with the condition will have amyloid plaques and tangles in their brain.

Lewy bodies are clumps of protein that develop in people with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

Vascular dementia is the result of damage to blood vessels in the brain.

Metabolic or endocrine issues, such as thyroid problems, can lead to dementia if the body is not able to absorb certain nutrients. Nutritional factors, such as a low intake of vitamin B12, can also play a role.

Infections can lead to some kinds of dementia. Multiple sclerosis is an immune condition in which the body attacks its own nerve cells.

Traumatic brain injury has been linked to dementia in footballers.

Risk Factors for Dementia

While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, remains unknown, a number of lifestyle choices can help to prevent other forms of the condition.

The following factors could all reduce the risk of developing the disease:

  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level
  • Controlling diabetes

Seeking medical help for depression, infections, and traumatic brain injury can also reduce the chance of developing some types of dementia.

Lifestyle Tips for People with Dementia

Complications of dementia can include a deterioration of physical health, as the individual becomes less able to take care of themselves or to eat properly.

Although the symptoms of dementia gradually get worse, a person can continue to live independently for some time following a diagnosis.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service note that it is important to remain in contact with others, continue to see friends and family, and possibly join a support group.

Sleep has also been known to pose a problem. Good sleep hygiene tips include keeping to regular bedtimes, not napping during the day, and avoiding alcohol or caffeine at night.

Many people with dementia can keep active by doing the things they have always enjoyed, such as walking or gardening.

In time, the person may need help at home, and they might need to move into a residential home when it becomes too difficult to live independently.

Family or friends who care for the person with dementia may wish to consider discussing future plans with them while they are still able to think clearly and to make decisions.

Citation

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314850.php

Written by Rachel Nall RN, BSN, CCRN

Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK.

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