What Is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that is characterised by changes in the brain cells leading to a gradual decline in cognitive skills, memory and social skills and interaction. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and is not a typical part of the ageing process. The chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease increase as people get older, and most people with Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 65. However, Alezmier’s disease can also affect young people, and five in every 100 people with Alzheimer’s disease are under 65.
Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's
As a progressive condition, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease develop gradually over time and, in most cases, become more severe. Alzheimer’s disease affects multiple brain functions caused by brain changes, which leads to the gradual slowing of the cognitive process and difficulties in remembering certain things. Typically, the first indication in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease consists of minor memory problems. For instance, individuals may find themselves forgetting recent conversations or events and struggling to recall the names of places and objects. Memory problems become more severe as the condition advances, and other symptoms gradually develop.
Alzheimer’s disease initiates changes in the area of the brain that influences learning. The disease process continues throughout the brain, leading to increasingly severe symptoms. These may include:
If Alzheimer’s disease is suspected, the individual may be referred to a specialist service to thoroughly assess their symptoms, arrange additional testing such as brain scans (if required), and formulate a comprehensive treatment and care plan.
It’s important to note that memory loss is amongst the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals may encounter challenges in remembering recent events or conversations in the early stage of the condition. As the disease advances, the person experiences a gradual cognitive decline in functioning, including memory consolidation and recovery. Initially, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may need help with minor forgetfulness, such as misplacing objects, accomplishing basic tasks or forgetting recent conversations in daily living, occurring as first signs.
Thinking and Reasoning
Thinking and reasoning abilities gradually decline in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. As Alzheimer’s disease advances, cognitive functions such as memory, problem-solving, decision-making and execution of daily tasks gradually decline. Initially, individuals may experience occasional memory lapses and have difficulty concentrating on complex tasks. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, these difficulties become more pronounced, impacting the ability to engage in abstract thinking and logical reasoning. Tasks that once seemed effortless now require more effort, and individuals may struggle with organising their thoughts and lose connections between ideas, leading to poor social interaction.
The individual may find remembering familiar faces, names, or even significant life events challenging. As time passes, the disease’s progressive nature leads to a profound loss of autobiographical memory, making it increasingly difficult for individuals to recognise loved ones or recall personal experiences, causing significant emotional distress for the person affected and their families. In addition to memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease progressively affects other cognitive domains, including language skills, attention, and problem-solving abilities. Individuals may experience difficulties in finding the right words, understanding complex instructions, or following conversations.
Decisions and Judgement
The progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease also affects the individual’s ability to reason and make sound judgments. Initially, individuals with Alzheimer’s may exhibit mild difficulties in weighing options, analysing information, and making decisions.
Individuals may experience mild difficulties in making choices or assessing situations in daily life, but these challenges tend to intensify over time. The gradual decline in cognitive abilities can impede the ability to weigh options, foresee consequences, and discern appropriate courses of action. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, decision-making skills become increasingly compromised, requiring supportive measures and strategies to ensure the individual or family member’s well-being and safety.
Changes in Personality and Behaviour
Alzheimer’s disease can change personality and behaviour, followed by mild forgetfulness and occasional confusion with increased irritability, anxiety and restlessness. Individuals may experience significant mood swings and social withdrawal as the condition progresses. Experiencing aggression, agitation, and even hallucinations leads to an ongoing transformation of one’s personality and behaviour, necessitating compassionate care and support from loved ones and caregivers alike.
What Causes Alzheimer's?
Understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease is an ongoing and evolving area of research. Scientists have made significant strides in unravelling the complex interplay of factors contributing to the development. Genetic studies have identified specific gene variants that increase the risk of developing the disease. Additionally, researchers have recognised the importance of environmental factors, such as diet, physical activity, and social engagement, in shaping brain health and potentially mitigating the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Multiple sources are thought to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, such as:
Is Alzheimer's Hereditary?
Alzheimer’s disease, in the majority of cases, is not inherited. Age is the primary risk factor associated with Alzheimer’s disease. As individuals reach their late 70s and 80s, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease becomes more pronounced. Consequently, having a parent or grandparent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease does not alter one’s risk relative to the general population.
Nevertheless, if someone develops Alzheimer’s disease at a younger age, such as people under 60 years old, there is a higher likelihood that it could be a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Behaviours That Challenge and Alzheimer's Disease
Behaviours that challenge are common in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and they often require ongoing understanding and support. As the condition progresses, individuals may experience increased confusion, agitation, and aggression, making it challenging to communicate their needs effectively. It becomes crucial to approach these behaviours with empathy and patience as the person’s cognitive and emotional abilities continue to evolve.
Progressive strategies involve:
By continuously adapting and implementing these approaches, caregivers and healthcare professionals can strive to provide the best possible care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s, promoting their overall well-being and maintaining a sense of dignity.
In addition, progressive language is essential to supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s and addressing challenging behaviours. Instead of focusing on negative behaviours, using positive and affirming language that respects the person’s dignity and autonomy is crucial. By reframing the language, we shift the focus from blame to understanding, encouraging empathy and compassion in our interactions.
At Leaf Complex Care, our support workers actively listen and acknowledge the person’s emotions and experiences, even if their words may be unclear or incoherent. By using inclusive and respectful language, we foster a supportive environment that promotes the well-being and quality of life of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, people’s needs fluctuate at different stages since each situation is unique. Deciding on the care treatment options can sometimes be a challenging decision that family members/or a family member need to make. With each passing day, the care at-home treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease are becoming increasingly effective, providing renewed hope and improved outcomes for those affected by this challenging condition.
Alzheimer Home Care
At Leaf Complex Care, our humanised support allows individuals with Alzheimer’s disease to stay in the comfort of their own home environment empowering them by providing compassionate home care treatments that continuously evolve and adapt to their changing needs. Our dedicated team promotes independence and a sense of purpose by implementing person-centred care plans. With a focus on ongoing education and expert training, our support workers ensure that their approach evolves alongside advancements in Alzheimer’s disease care, offering the highest support quality and enhancing the overall well-being of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Home Care for Individuals with Alzheimer's
Home care offers a range of benefits for individuals with Alzheimer’s, fostering a supportive environment tailored to the person’s needs. By providing personalised assistance, trained caregivers ensure the safety and well-being of people living with Alzheimer’s, promoting a sense of familiarity and minimising potential disorientation. Continuously adapting their approach, caregivers may engage in progressive cognitive stimulation activities that enhance memory retention, promote social interaction, and maintain a sense of identity.
Alzheimer's Care with Leaf Complex Care
At Leaf Complex Care, our support workers prioritise the people we serve by delivering person-centred care and Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) in their own homes. Through ongoing observation and assessment, they can proactively adjust care plans, implementing innovative strategies to address challenges as they arise, fostering a care journey that prioritises individuality, dignity, and quality of life.