Is it Alzheimer's?
Normal forgetfulness or Alzheimer's?
Everyone has occasional lapses in memory. It's often quite normal to forget the names of people whom you rarely see. But it's not a normal part of aging to forget the names of familiar people and objects.
The National Institute on Aging identified seven warning signs of Alzheimer's disease:
- Asking the same question over and over again.
- Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.
- Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards -- activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.
- Losing one's ability to pay bills or balance one's checkbook.
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings, or misplacing household objects.
- Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.
- Relying on someone else, such as a spouse, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves.
Time to make a call
Individuals with several of the symptoms above should see a physician for a complete examination. Some illnesses may look like Alzheimer's but are caused by other problems, i.e. drug interactions or thyroid problems. It is important to get a diagnosis so your loved one can receive appropriate treatment and care.
Doctors use several tools to diagnose Alzheimer's, including:
- questions about the person's general health, past medical problems, and ability to carry out daily activities;
- tests to measure memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language; and
- medical tests - such as tests of blood, urine, or spinal fluid.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. Dementia occurs in people with Alzheimer's disease because healthy brain tissue degenerates, causing a steady decline in memory and mental abilities. (To see a brief animation of the progression of Alzheimer's disease, click here.)
Treatment for Alzheimer's disease
Currently, there's no cure for Alzheimer's disease. Doctors sometimes prescribe drugs to improve symptoms that often accompany Alzheimer's, including sleeplessness, wandering, anxiety, agitation and depression. There are two varieties of medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that have been proved to slow the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's.
Dealing with the diagnosis
We'll help you learn about the disease and share tips to help to make a tough job easier. Our compassionate staff members are here with the resources, on-going support and the sympathetic ear you need.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 70% of people with Alzheimer's disease live at home, where family and friends provide most of the care. Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease at home is difficult and can be overwhelming at times. To ease the demands of caregiving, Maple View offers Adult Day Services and Respite Care services. We can care for your loved one for an hour, a day, a week, or longer.
Eventually you may not be able to meet the needs of a person with Alzheimer's. When this difficult time arrives, Maple View is here with full-time residency options.