Information About Alzheimer’s North Carolina, Inc.
Alzheimers Disease (AD): What Everybody NEEDS to Know
We might have up to 5.3 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. (NIA) But if you care for anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s or another dementia, you are more significant to us than multitude doing nothing. We are here to serve you and your dementia patient.
The diagnosis makes a difference!
Early diagnosis is significant, and accurate diagnosis is crucial!
- Treatment done early is more effective than waiting.
- The Early and precise diagnosis makes it easier to plan better and gives the opportunity for persons with dementia to be involved in the process. The disease leads to changes in needs and abilities but planning makes a difference in options the person may have.
How to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease
Diagnosis is a complicated process that involves gathering lots of information, such as:
- Health history
- History of the changes
- Medication review
- Cognitive assessment (what’s not working well and what’s working well )
- Physical exam (mainly focusing on neurological and cardiovascular systems)
- Laboratory studies
- Emotional assessment
- Imaging study of the brain ( PET, MRI, CT)
- Others (ECG, EEG, etc. as indicated)
Even as this information is gathered, it’s important because people are compared to themselves and those others of their age and state.
The Difference of Dementia from Aging and Forgetfulness
- Dementia DOESN’T happen to everyone because it’s a DISEASE, but Aging happens to everyone.
- New information can be stored if one is forgetful; though it might require much effort and practice for information to “stick”. But new information cannot be predictably retained with dementia.
- Forgetfulness can be managed by using reminders, to-do list, and calendars. These prompts CAN’T be of help with dementia, especially at the earliest stages.
- An independent life becomes difficult with forgetfulness; its worst in dementia because an independent life becomes impossible.
What “Normal Aging” is
Symptoms of Normal aging includes:
To become more forgetful…for you
It becomes difficult to learn new information…again for you
Recalling people’s names becomes an issue (more than you used to have)
More practice is now required to learn new skills or technologies (just have to try much harder than earlier, though you can do it)
Hesitating even though you know the word you want (different for you)
Get the theme? FOR YOURSELF…or the person you’re working with. Since you can’t recall where the person started…it becomes impossible to know where they are now.
What Mild Cognitive Impairment is
Mild cognitive impairment is a new term and is used when:
- More than expected cognitive change is experienced an individual (mostly in memory and language)
- But generally changes are not seen in judgment or thinking
- And can still function and doing daily activities
We now diagnose and treat MCI, although there might be a significant fluctuation in what the system might be.
Some people with MCI experience a continued decline and improvement of dementia; some will reach a plateau and not progress to dementia.
To understand the reasons for this will require more research.
What Dementia is
Dementia is an “umbrella” or a non-specific term used to term a person having the inability to function and do daily activities due to changes in brain function.
Multiple areas of brain function are affected in those with dementia. Such areas affected might include; understanding of time, memory, ability to do things for self, language, personality, impulse control, etc.
Common types of dementia include vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, frontal, temporal dementia (FTD), Lewy body dementia and mixed dementia (when in the same brain, more than one type of dementia is occurring). The impact of different types of dementia on the brain differs in their symptoms, the changes of abilities in different orders and rates.
What is AD?
AD is a type of dementia. It is a terminal and progressive disease in that the changes do not occur rapidly, but very slowly over months and years and not days.
A quick change may be APPEAR if a person suddenly experiences a change in health status, caregiver system or living situation (e.g. Death of loved one). The change didn’t just happen suddenly but has been happening progressively but while the person was in a routine and the ability of the person wasn’t challenged, and the old pattern of memories was used to function.
The disease pattern and progression are predictable, BUT the experience is ultimately, and individual, in essence, the entire life of the person, is affected by AD.
What are the early signs?
Early signs might be:
- Confusion about place and time
- Having challenges with familiar tasks
- Finding complex mental tasks, problem-solving and planning difficult.
- Trouble finishing thoughts, following directions, and sentences, finding words.
- Memory loss of fresh information and events
- Frequent mood swings, sudden changes in personality, doubt, disinterest or withdrawal,
- Altered judgment due to decrease in reasoning ability
Caregiver “think about its”.
Unpaid caregivers render much of the help needed by many people with dementia: family members, neighbors, friends, faith communities.
Moreover, not everyone can be a direct caregiver for someone suffering from dementia!
As a caregiver—you must always care for yourself else it will be difficult to care for the person with dementia.
Yearly many caregivers die of stress and chronic illness!
This involves a long-term commitment—it’s impossible to sprint a marathon!!!
It’s very crucial to stay updated because we learn every time.
Your actions make a big difference someone with dementia, to your other caregivers, to your society and those coming after you.