Alzheimer’s disease interferes with memory and mental abilities. Although the
symptoms may vary for each individual, the disease usually begins to affect
people in their mid-60s and continues to progress over time. The symptoms
usually increase in intensity from slight memory loss and mental confusion, to
severe mental impairment and physical limitations. Alzheimer’s is not a result
of growing older. It is a disease caused by changes in the nerve endings and
brain cells that interfere with normal brain functions. At this time, there is
no known cure for Alzheimer’s, although proper treatment can relieve some
symptoms and help patients feel more comfortable.
are the Symptoms?
the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease may be so slight that they go unnoticed.
Forgetfulness, shortened attention span and trouble with simple math are some of
these early signs. Others include difficulty in expressing thought, changing or
unpredictable moods and less desire to try new things or meet new people. As
Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the earlier symptoms become more intense. Loss
of memory – including how to dress, how to eat, names of family, etc., becomes
increasingly severe. The victim experiences drastic mood and personality
changes including outbursts of anger, dissatisfaction or suspicion. Total loss
of judgment and concentration, and the inability to complete routine household
tasks becomes more and more difficult for the person with Alzheimer’s.
Suggestions For Working With a Person Who has Alzheimer’s
expectations realistic. This will reduce the frustration for both you and the
patient. Learning about the disease will help you know what can be expected
from an individual who has a progressive dementia related illness.
Maintain a calm atmosphere. Constant activity around the Alzheimer’s patient or
requests by the caregiver to hurry up or go faster will confuse and frighten the
memory-impaired. Even small amounts of excitement can cause agitation.
consistent. Avoid changes and surprises. Individuals with Alzheimer’s generally
function better in familiar well-organized environments and consistent routines.
choices. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this helps reduce confusion.
repetition. Alzheimer’s patients need frequent, patient reminders. They simply
may not remember what they are told. It is important for the caregiver to
remember they have difficulty retaining information.
memory aids. Memory aids can be helpful in promoting better orientation. Signs,
clocks, calendars and a schedule of the day’s activities all help reinforce
the environment safe. Safety is a major concern in daily living. Family members
constantly need to be aware of the sources of danger. Three potentially
dangerous activities are smoking, cooking and driving.
Reassure and praise the Alzheimer’s patient. Provide praise for the tasks
accomplished. Treat the person as an adult and help him or her maintain a sense
of humor and dignity.
Alzheimer’s Association of Eastern Washington can answer all of you questions
from how to receive respite care, when the support groups meet and other in-home
services. The telephone number is 483-8456.