People sometimes use the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s Disease” interchangeably. But they’re not the same thing. Dementia is a general term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but it’s just one of several dementia-related illnesses.
Today, one in nine people over the age of 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. About one-third of people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s diseases.
Alzheimer’s is a chronic disease that causes memory loss and often makes it difficult for people to think and solve problems. Eventually, it interferes with the ability to perform everyday tasks, and can progress to the point where a person does not remember his or her own family.
Warning signs and symptoms
According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the following are some common warning signs and symptoms of dementia. Keep in mind that every individual is unique and may not exhibit all of them. Always consult a physician to discuss changes in memory and thinking abilities. A thorough assessment by your physician or a specialist, such as a neurologist, can determine what is causing these symptoms.
- Difficulty finding words
- Trouble completing multi-step tasks
- Challenges with identifying time, people or places
- Misplacing familiar objects
- Personality changes
- Loss of interest in important responsibilities
- Expressing false beliefs
- Changes in judgment
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with a physician as soon as possible. Early detection of memory issues can allow the patient to participate in care planning decisions and explore clinical trials.
Managing the Symptoms
Good Shepherd Nursing Home designs its resident care programs and activities to help mitigate the signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Regular exercise classes get residents moving, which is good for their brains and hearts. They get a good night’s sleep, which is critical for health; research suggests that sleep enables the brain to eliminate beta-amyloid protein plaque in the brain, which is a hallmark of dementia.
Residents eat a delicious balanced diet, prepared by Good shepherd’s chefs. Diet is important for brain health and overall physical health. Our nursing staff works with residents’ personal doctors to help them manage any chronic conditions they may have, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
And Good Shepherd’s activities staff conducts activities that engage residents daily. Activities like puzzles and trivia games challenge the players’ brains to help keep them sharp. Our Music and Memory Program helps residents reconnect with the world through the memories that music can trigger.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be frightening. If you have questions, or are looking for support with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has a toll-free national help line where you can talk with a licensed social worker. Call 866-232-8484.