Just like cancer, we all probably know someone with Alzheimer’s disease and may fear that we will have it especially if a parent has had Alzheimer’s disease.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:
1. Memory– recently learned information, important dates or events. Often need to use memory aides for things they used to remember on their own. Poor memory disrupts daily life.
2. Problem solving–difficulty tracking monthly bills. Poor concentration makes things take longer to complete.
3. Difficulty with familiar tasks–driving to a known location, rules of a favorite game.
4. Time or place confusion—losing track of date or season, forgetting how they got some place or where they currently are.
5. Visual or spatial issues—difficulty judging distance, contrasting colors.
6. Conversation issues—trouble following or joining a discussion, word finding (calling a watch a hand clock).
7. Misplacing things—putting things in an unusual place or can’t retrace their steps to find something.
8. Poor judgment—give money more easily to strangers like telemarketers. Pay less attention to their grooming.
9. Withdrawal from activities—hobbies, projects, favorite team.
10. Changes in mood or personality—suspicious, depressed, anxious.
Ways to Help Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease
1. Early diagnosis.
2. Medication—cannot cure or stop progression but may lessen symptoms.
3. Vitamin E—currently being tried in high doses for some.
4. Coconut Oil – Eat it, Lotion it, use it!
5. Include them in decisions, especially early on—care & living arrangements, transportation, financial & legal.
6. Behavioral treatment—may be needed if behavior change is sudden or difficult.
7. Sleep—try to keep a consistent routine. If they have trouble sleeping, discuss with their physician.
8. Alternative therapies—the internet if full of these but it is important to discuss with a physician as many have unknown safety and effectiveness.
9. Be positive—don’t hide the diagnosis from them. Tell them you will stand by them.
10. Offer to drive—the more you offer to drive them, the easier it will be to take the keys away.
11. Safety is key—provide a medical alert button and door alarms. Avoid crowds as that tends to make them more anxious. Know what they are wearing so if they do wander away, you can describe them. You might also want to carry a recent photo.
12. Patience—with a capital P. It can be frustrating repeating answers to questions over and over again. Take time for yourself if you are the primary caregiver.
1. Early-onset Alzheimer’s may be more inheritable than late-onset. If your parent wasn’t diagnosed until later in life, you have less to worry about.
2. Exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
3. Don’t smoke or quit if you are a smoker.
4. Control your weight.
5. Eat a heart-healthy diet.
6. Be socially and intellectually active. Games are a good way to do both.
References: Alzheimer’s Association Guidelines
Let me know if you have a personal question about Alzheimer’s disease.