and Memory Care
Table of Contents
What Exactly is Alzheimer’s Disease?
In simple terms, it is the result of inflammation of brain tissue. A deeper look at Alzheimer’s disease has revealed that two proteins that naturally occur in the brain cause plaques and tangles that cause severe damage and death of nerve cells known as neurons. When neurons are damaged, they can no longer send or receive messages.
Without neurons to send and receive messages, the brain starts to lose its connection with the rest of the body and other parts of the brain. This leads to memory loss and loss of cognitive functionality.
Some of the first symptoms a person with Alzheimer’s will display are:
As the neurons fail to fire they begin to die along with other parts of the brain. Slowly, over a period of time, the brain progressively deteriorates and leaves the patient with less and less brain function. Memories fade, the ability to decipher reality from fantasy diminishes, and the ability to freely move limbs dwindles.
Alzheimer’s disease can begin in the brain decades before symptoms ever show up. It quietly continues to progress as the person lives out their daily life, unaware of its deadly presence. By the time symptoms appear, there is already too much damage.
As of this time, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, however, there are strategies in place that help to slow it down and make life as close to normal as possible for many patients.
The best solution that the medical industry has to offer is to keep the patient safe and try to keep them engaged as much as possible. Constant mental stimulation and brain challenges have shown to be effective ways to slow down the symptoms.
Having constant care that provides safety and encouragement for patients is a key element in the quality of life that is available for patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease.
What is Dementia?
It is common to confuse dementia with Alzheimer’s disease, but, in reality, dementia is a symptom of the disease, not the cause of it. Where Alzheimer’s disease is a specific medical term, dementia is more of a general term.
Obviously, there can be traumatic head injuries that injure the brain and cause it to no longer work the way that is supposed to, but other factors can sneak in and destroy functionality as well. Vascular problems can lead to parts of the brain dying and causing severe cognitive inhibitions. If there are areas of the brain that fail to receive an adequate amount of blood and oxygen the tissue within the areas will starve and die. When brain tissue dies so do memory, cognition, mobility, and comprehension.
Medical issues can that can contribute to dementia:
Dementia can be very scary and frustrating for patients that suffer from it. Although there is no palpable cure for dementia, once it is discovered and diagnosed a physician can recommend treatments that have the potential to impede its progression of it and allow patients to have somewhat of a normal life.
Compassionate, reliable care for patients with dementia problems is critical in order to provide adequate mental stimulation, life assistance, and careful observation in case of bouts of severe confusion or bouts of irregular behavior.
What is Lewy Body Dementia?
Lewy bodies are unusual clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein that form in the brain. These formations cause a shift within certain chemicals in the brain which ultimately cause problems with the ability to think, the ability to move correctly, and other brain functions.
Dementia that forms as a result of the presence of Lewy bodies is classified as Lewy body dementia.
Although LBD has some similar characteristics to Alzheimer’s disease, they are not the same. Where Alzheimer’s disease inhibits the brain’s ability to store new information, LBD affects cognitive functions such as problem solving and reasoning.
Some of the symptoms of Lewy body dementia (LBD) are:
At this point in time, there is no definitive cause for LBD. However, researchers have been able to determine a link between the loss of certain neurotransmitters and the accumulation of Lewy bodies.
The only risk factors that doctors have been able to associate with LBD are natural aging and Parkinson’s disease. In other words, there has not been any evidence that unhealthy behaviors such as smoking cigarettes or lack of exercise are causes of LBD.
There is no known way to prevent, or cure, Lewy body dementia. However, if a person is diagnosed with it they may find a slim amount of hope if they see a neurologist that specifically deals with dementia or movement disorders.
Support groups are great for people that suffer from LBD as well as having a personal care assistant or live-in caregiver to keep the patient comfortable, safe, and mentally engaged.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that targets a specific type of neuron that produces dopamine. These neurons are found in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. As the disease progresses, parts of the brain begin to degenerate.
Since dopamine is an essential chemical that assists with the ability to move when it is inhibited from production the body suffers mobility problems. The patient will suffer from involuntary movements or the inability to move certain limbs or parts of the body.
One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is body tremors. In addition to tremors patients also suffer from stiffness and difficulty with balance. Motor skills and cognitive functions also tend to decline.
Some of the other symptoms include:
One of the larger concerns that medical professionals have discovered is that brains that have been affected by Parkinson’s disease produce an abundance of Lewy bodies, which cause Parkinson’s dementia, which is a type of Lewy body dementia.
As for the cause of Parkinson’s disease, there is no definitive explanation. However, medical research has shown that there is a possibility that it is hereditary and can also be from genetic mutations.
Blood tests and other typical techniques for determining a diagnosis do not work with Parkinson’s disease. In most cases, if a doctor suspects that Parkinson’s is the reason for certain symptoms, after a comprehensive medical history investigation, they will prescribe medication to relieve symptoms. If the medications work, doctors will have sufficient reason to believe that the person does, in fact, have Parkinson’s disease.
Although there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease there are treatments available that have the ability to lessen symptoms. Some of the medications that are prescribed for patients with Parkinson’s disease help to:
Patients that suffer from the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease can tend to have trouble doing daily tasks and other activities. One of the best ways to help a patient be able to live independently and still be at home is to get in-home care from a trusted care provider.
What Does Stroke Aftercare Consist Of?
Patients that have suffered from a stroke can experience severe loss of functionality. In addition to the damage that occurred from the stroke itself, there is an ever-present fear that another one is yet to come at any moment.
Many stroke survivors suffer from:
The main goal of the medical professionals that treat stroke patients is to reduce brain injury and implement a solution that will allow the patient to gain as much brain functionality back as possible.
The time that it takes to recover from a stroke will be different for everybody. Some can recover in a few weeks while others can take several months or even years.
Patients that have suffered from severe strokes often have to go through some sort of rehabilitation program to get lost functions back. Some of the programs that they could participate in are:
In the event of a stroke that leaves a person impaired for life, or needs to be cared for during an extended amount of time it is paramount that they have help available to them when nobody else is around. Hiring a personal caregiver to assist the patient with everyday needs is a great way to ensure a safe and healthy environment that cultivates positivity and healing.
- Meal planning, preparation, and clean up
- Accompany to appointments
- Assistance with bathing and hygiene
- Escort to religious services
- Medication reminders
- Shopping and errands
- Family respite care
- Light exercise
- Light housework and laundry
- Assistance with transfers and limitation
- Pet care/pet companionship
What is Sundowning or Sundowers
Sundowning is a syndrome characterized by cycles of increased confusion, anxiety, agitation, pacing and disorientation that affects people in moderate to late stages of dementia. Although it most frequently happens at the end of the day or in the evening, hence the name sundowning, it does not appear to be at all related to the sun going down, as previously believed. Some dementia patients will experience sundowning as early as 1 p.m. or as late as 11 p.m. Studies indicate that the number of people with Alzheimer’s who experience sundowning can be as high as 66 percent. The causes for sundowning are not fully understood. Dementia causes a disruption on the circadian rhythm (the “internal Clock”) which may be associated with sundowning, and researches have concluded that sundowning is unrelated to sleep disturbances. Family and professional caregivers’ accounts indicate that sundowning is more closely related to brain fatigue. A brain depleted by dementia is constantly working extra hard to navigate the environment and maintain functioning levels throughout the day. Caregivers notice that dementia patients are at their best in the morning, when the brain is most rested, after hours of sleep. As the day progresses there is a noticeable decline in tolerance to stimuli, with the brain struggling to cope with the stresses of conducting everyday activities. At some point, the brain simply can’t cope anymore and appears to have a “melt down.” When that happens, there is an increased inability to differentiate reality from dreams and past memories, sometimes accompanied by uncontrollable emotional outbursts and agitation, ranging from mild to severe.
- Taking a regular nap in the early afternoon.
- A nice, everyday nap after lunch may be sufficient to recharge the brain and reset it, so it can function better for the remaining hours of the day.
- Maintain a schedule.
- As much as possible, engage the person with dementia into a regular routine of meals, waking up and going to bed. This will allow for more restful sleep at night.
- Alzheimer’s Association