1.) Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
2.) Changes in planning and solving problems.
3.) Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
4.) Confusion with time and place.
5.) Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
6.) New problems with words in speaking or writing.
7.) Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
8.) Decreased or poor judgment.
9.) Withdrawal from work or social activities.
10.) Changes in mood and personality.
Alzheimer's causes memory, thinking and behavioral problems that comes on gradually. These problems get worse over time, however there are moments when the patient can be completely lucid. There is no known cure, but there are medicines that have, in some cases, slowed the progression of the disease.
Stage 2: Memory lapses, forgetting familiar words or names. Forgetting the location of items used every day, still not evident enough to alert family or friends.
Stage 3; Family and friends begin to notice problems with difficulty in memory, using the right words when visiting, unable to remember names of people, loss of ability to plan or organize tasks.
Stage 4: Signs of Alzheimer's become more prominent, noticeable enough. Family seeks doctor assistance. Problems with memory, wandering, loss of time, day or night, loss of bodily functions increase.
Stage 5: Time to seek out a Nursing Home, patient memory has major gaps, needs assistance in daily activities, needs help in dressing, no control of bodily functions. (See information on transferring to a nursing home below.)
Stage 6: Severe memory loss, personality may change, patient may not know spouse or family, needs help in dressing, needs help in toileting, doesn't know day from night, maybe up 24 hours and will go until they collapse, tend to wander and get lost, and need to be watched 24/7.
Stage 7: Cannot respond to environment, cannot control movement of arms and legs, incontinence becomes a real problem, unable to walk, needs support standing, unable to eat on their own, needs to be told to swallow, immune system can not fight off illness, circulation becomes a problem and leads to congestive heart failure which will be fatal.
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"There were signs my wife expressed that I missed before we went to the Doctor. The signs came on ever so slowly. (Review the 10 signs above to look for as a caregiver.)
"When your loved one asks you to help, you automatically respond, so it is hard for you to recognize problems." If someone on the outside or someone with fresh eyes on your situation comments about a loved one's behavior, it may be wise to take their comments under consideration.
"It became obvious to my family when my wife could not carry on a conversation. I took her to the doctor. He gave her various memory and language tests which she failed. He diagnosed Alzheimer's Disease. He prescribed medicines, he briefed me as a caregiver what to expect in the future. I realized our lives had changed from this day forward. "
"I set down a series of steps on how I was going to care for and to work with her, the patient."
For a full listing of tips on how to approach the Alzheimer's patient, visit: Alzheimer's from a Caregiver's Perspective: 10 Tips for Caregivers for those who care for people with Alzheimer's Disease. When Marvin's wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, he stepped in to provide an integral part of her care. The following is what he learned as a caregiver, as an assistant at his wife's Care Home and what he shares in an official capacity for the nursing home with new caregivers who are coping with a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC) is based on the highly successful Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Dr. Kate Lorig and her colleagues at Stanford University. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a national program sustained by extensive collaborations with community-based organizations. For over 12 years they have been training class leaders. Currently, over 1,700 Class Leaders have been trained in 32 states. Since the programís inception, reaching over 70,000 caregivers. In the six weekly classes, caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to: reduce personal stress; change negative self-talk; communicate their needs to family members and healthcare or service providers; communicate more effectively in challenging situations; recognize the messages in their emotions, deal with difficult feelings; and make tough caregiving decisions. Class participants also receive a copy of The Caregiver Helpbook, developed specifically for the class. Research studies find high rates of depression and anxiety among caregivers and caregiving has a significant negative impact on a caregiversí physical and emotional health. Contact Powerful Tools For Caregivers, at 4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd #703, Portland, OR 97214 or Phone 1-503-719-6980 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Immediate medical attention and treatment are most effective - when started early.
Moving to a Nursing Home
When you can visit them, now you can offer comfort. The Nursing Home is not a warehouse, visit the patient on a regular basis. Your loved one may not be able to communicate with you, but their sixth sense tells them you are there and that gives them comfort. Don't upset them by telling them your problems, leave your problems at the door. When your time is over, never tell the patient, "I am going home." Say instead, "I am going to get groceries or some other excuse, and how you will see them again later, they won't remember and will glad to see you the next day."
Alzheimer's Gene Raises Newborns' Cerebral Palsy Risk This article in Science Daily (Feb. 5, 2007) identifies the Apolipoprotein E (APOE), a gene associated with heightened risk for Alzheimer's disease in adults, can also increase the likelihood that brain-injured newborns will develop cerebral palsy, discovered by researchers at Children's Memorial Research Center and Northwestern University.
Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease This article on the Alzheimer's Association website discusses, how as they age, those affected by Down syndrome have a greatly increased risk of developing a type of dementia that's either the same as or very similar to Alzheimer's disease. This article will inform you of the causes, risks, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for Alzheimer's in those with Down Syndrome. Those with downsyndrome are more likely to have early onset Alzheimer's and 75% more likely after age 65.
Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease Risk This article at WebMD also discusses how those affected by Down Syndrome have an increased risk to Alzheimer's disease, how to recognize symptoms and the factors that may contribute to Alzheimer's in those with Down Syndrome.
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For more on the topic of Alzheimer's Disease
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