Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and is characterized by memory loss and being intellectually hindered during daily activities. 60-80% of dementia candidates have Alzheimer’s, and it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
The Alzheimer’s disease is progressive and worsens over time. The beginning stages are typified by mild memory loss, irritability, depression and anxiety. As it worsens over several years, it can be difficult for an individual to carry on a conversation and to adjust and respond to their changing environment. Other symptoms included in later stages of Alzheimer’s are, restlessness, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, sleep disturbances, and verbal outbursts. On average, individuals with Alzheimer’s live an average of 8 years after their symptoms begin occurring, however, this can range anywhere between 4-20 years.
There is currently no cure but there are options for stopping its progression. These treatment options include drug and non-drug options for helping with memory loss and both behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Medicine is commonly used for memory loss, and also more severe situations when an individual may potentially harm himself or herself. These medication options include antipsychotics (for hallucinations), antidepressants (for mood), and anxiolytics (for anxiety and restlessness).
Non-drug Approaches for Treatment
- Talk therapy: helping individual realize they are not being threatened in certain situations
- Identifying and addressing needs related to comfort both physically and emotionally
- Monitoring personal comfort including: constipation, hunger, thirst, fatigue, skin irritation etc
Triggering Situations For Alzheimer’s
- Moving to a new home
- Changes in caregiver
- Misperceived threats
- Being asked to change clothes or bathe
Coping Tips If You Have A Loved One With Alzheimer’s
- Understand that their anger or agitation cannot be taken personally
- Redirect the person’s attention from a situation if needed
- Allow them to have adequate rest
- Avoid being confrontational
- Create a calm environment for them
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