A Guide to Alzheimer's Care
A look at what you should consider when planning for Alzheimer's Care. Below are sections and excerpts from our FREE downloadable Guide to Alzheimer's Care
What is Alzheimer's Disease?“Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly
destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the
simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their
mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans
may have Alzheimer’s.”
Although Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of
death, studies over the last few years reveal that deaths that are linked to
Alzheimer’s disease are underreported. Findings show that in many instances,
deaths are attributed to health conditions such as inhalation pneumonia that result
from the effects of Alzheimer’s as the body loses its ability to function effectively.
The findings suggest that the deaths that result because of Alzheimer’s disease can
be attributed to many more people than have been reported. Researchers believe
that if reported accurately, Alzheimer’s disease would rank as the third leading
cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.
Care Options for an Individual With Alzheimer's DiseaseThis section covers:
- Private In-Home Care
- Medicare Funded Home Health Services
- Living With A Loved One
- Medical Alert Monitoring Services
- Adult Day Care Centers
- Assistance in Living Facilities
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities
- Hospice Services
Professionals to Contact for HelpThis section includes:
- Geriatric Care Managers
- Area Agency on Aging
- Elder Law Attorney
- Alzheimer's Association
The Stages of Alzheimer's DiseaseAccording to The National Institute on Aging, as well as the medical community at
large, the progression of the disease can vary in persons.10 Some first experience
affected ability to reason or impaired judgement or may have difficulty finding
appropriate words to express themselves verbally. They may have difficulty
navigating within their visual field or making sense of the actual space they occupy.
The disease has been organized into Three descriptive stages, Mild, Moderate, and
Severe. Some organizations describe levels of functioning within those three stages.
Additionally, each person living with Alzheimer’s disease will experience the stages
in different ways and for different lengths of time. Each stage can be defined based
upon exhibited patterns of behavior.
Detection and Proper Diagnosis of Alzheimer's DiseaseIdentifying signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is the first step in early
detection of the disease. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the aging process;
however, memory loss can be caused by many different factors, including infection,
organs that are not functioning properly, an injury to the head from a fall, alcohol
use, medication effects, or vitamin deficiency. Many people worry that they or
someone they care about is developing dementia because they seem to be forgetting
things more often, can’t seem to locate their keys or glasses, don’t remember the
birthday of their grandchild, or forget where they parked in the grocery store lot.
These unsettling experiences may only be a part of the normal process of aging.
Caring for the CaregiverA diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease affects not only the individual but also the
caregiver. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging. The task of
caregiving often falls primarily on the shoulders of one person. The stress of this 24-
hour care in addition to the feelings of despair and sadness can take a toll on the
caregiver’s own health.
Common Concerns When Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer ’s DiseaseThis section addresses several common questions and concerns.
Legal Steps You Should ConsiderYou will need to make decisions for your loved one when he or she no longer has
mental capacity. Power of attorney documents give you the legal right to do this. It is
very important to talk to an Elder Law attorney while there is still the mental
capacity to understand the powers that are being conveyed by a power of attorney.
When there is suspicion that mental wellness is declining, do not wait to accomplish
your legal planning. Because the disease may progress rapidly, it is important that
documents are in place in the event the person who has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
or dementia no longer has the mental capacity to understand the documents they