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Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month 2023

Alzheimer’s Disease

By Kyle Hennessy


June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month!! This month is dedicated to the awareness and effects of individuals and families struggling with Alzheimer’s and Brain health. Individuals can support family members who have Alzheimer's disease by becoming more aware.


What is Alzheimer’s disease?


Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. This disease has different stages and can progressively get worse over time. Alzheimers is affected by different parts of the brain that control thought processes, movement, memory, and language. For example, people who struggle with Alzheimers may forget who they are, forget where they are at, and may act confused.


What are symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

1. Memory Loss: Some examples of memory loss are the person could lose track of what they are doing or forget to turn off the stove.


2. Thinking and Reasoning: They may have a hard time understanding tasks that include math or dealing with numbers. For example, paying bills or balancing their budgets.


3. Making Judgements and Decisions: They may make poor decisions throughout their day. One example would be to drive without their caregivers permission.


4. Planning and Performing Familiar Tasks: They may forget how to complete tasks that are done on a daily basis, such as dressing for the day, preparing meals, and brushing their teeth.


5. Changes in Personality or Behavior: You may see changes in the person's personality or behaviors. Some examples of what you may see are anger, aggression, acting lost, sad, not their normal self.


What are the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s disease?

1. Before the symptoms appear: You may be able to function independently. For example, you may do your job, hang out with your friends, and cook your meals.


2. Basic Forgetfulness: You may notice some small changes or symptoms, but struggle to identify if the person is just being forgetful or if something further is going on. For example, the person may not be able to find their keys, but they are sitting in plain sight on the counter top.


3. Noticeable Memory Difficulties: This stage is easier to identify because the person is forgetting simple things. For example, he or she may forget names and dates.


4. More Than Memory Loss: During this stage, the doctor can diagnose your disease. This is because they have seen symptoms over many years.


5. Decreased Independence: This stage is hard for a loved one to watch. Because the person might show different emotions, need help with basic tasks, and not remember who their family members are.


6. Severe Symptoms: This stage is worse for the person who has Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes they have a difficult time talking and controlling their behavior. An example would be, their family members may talk to them, but the family members don’t understand what they want or how they feel. You will see that a person's behavior will be changed. It is difficult at times for their caregivers to handle. Some medications can help to calm an individual's behaviors. The individual may occasionally have hallucinations.


7. Lack of Physical Control: This stage is a downhill event. Their bodies will slowly decline. The brain cells are damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. The individuals may be moved to the nursing facility to seek twenty four hour care. For example, they can’t dress, go to the bathroom, or feed themselves.



How to care for your loved one with Alzheimer's?

1. Be understanding of their disease and stages. For example, the patients and their family members go to doctor’s appointments to learn about the disease.


2. The family members have to create a daily routine for the patients. For example, the family members can help the patients with Alzheimer's to do cleaning, cooking and play some games.


3. The patients and their family members work together to plan the activities. For example, they can go to the line dance or shows or eat out or go for a walk or listen to music.


4. Alzheimer's disease can impact the patient’s ability to communicate with other people. They may have a hard time remembering some words. Here are some strategies to help you talk to the patient with Alzheimer's. 1. Use your smile and eye contact. 2. Ask one question at a time. 3. Be calm when the patient is upset.


5. Some patients will lose weight because they forget their mealtimes. For example, they forget how to make their foods, have a hard time chewing or swallowing their food, and they can’t smell or taste anything.


6. The family members can help to boost the patient’s self confidence to make them feel better. For example, giving them showers, getting their hair done, putting on lotion, and helping them brush their teeth.


7. The family members have to keep the patient in a safe environment from hurting themselves. For example, lock the door, keep the keys in a pocket, install a lock on the cupboards, install a security system in the house, or install a tracking app on the patient’s phone to keep them safe.


8. The family members of the Alzheimer’s patients have to help take care of their dogs or cats. For example, Alzheimer's patients can walk their dogs with caregivers. The patients may forget the schedule of their pets feeding or playtime. The caregivers will help to remind the patients.


9. The caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients have to go to a class to learn about the Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, stage, and how to care for their patients.

What are the Statistics and percentages of patients with Alzheimer’s disease?

Currently in the United States, there are more than 6 million patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The research shows that Alzheimer’s disease increases significantly with age.


Currently in Iowa, there are 66,000 individuals ages 65 and older who are living with Alzheimer’s. This disease is very serious. Some people are slowly dying from that disease.


Research shows that age is the highest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Although some brain changes happen as we age, there is a lot of research pertaining to how our brains can age healthier.


Throughout the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association offers five exercises to promote better brain and physical health to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline:


Exercise routinely- Routinely exercise in the gym and at home can help to increase blood flow to the body and brain. Research shows that regular physical exercise can help to improve your health and mental state.


Maintain your Heart Healthy diet- Eating healthier can help your brain function. Some good food options for increased brain activity are fish, berries, fruits, and vegetables.

Get proper sleep- Keeping a regular sleep pattern benefits physical and mental health. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep every night and try to keep a routine bedtime. It will rest your brain up!


Stay socially and mentally active- Meaningful Social engagement like hanging out with friends and family can help increase your brain functioning.

Some ways to stay mentally active are reading books, doing computer work and word searches. These activities will help keep your brain active.


Keep your heart healthy- Some ways to keep your heart healthy are doing exercises, eating healthier, and keeping your stress level down. For example, go for a run/walk, eat oatmeal, and listen to music.




Please join us for the events:

June 21 is Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behaviors event which will be held at Fieldstone of DeWitt, Iowa at 2 pm.

June 22 is 10 Warning Signs event which will be held at Albaugh Senior Center in Ankeny, Iowa at 10 am.

June 28 is Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia event which will be held at Ridgecrest Village in Davenport, Iowa at 1:30pm.




References


5 exercise for Alzheimer’s and Brain

(N.d.). Alzheimer’s disease . Retrieved June 31, 2023, from https://alzconnected.org/?_ga=2.232595097.707921708.1686143345-2147107312.1686143345&_gl=1%2Ahoraff%2A_ga%2AMjE0NzEwNzMxMi4xNjg2MTQzMzQ1%2A_ga_9JTEWVX24V%2AMTY4NjE1MTg4MS4yLjEuMTY4NjE1MjAyNS4zOS4wLjA..


Symptoms

(N.d.). Alzheimer’s disease . Retrieved June 31, 2023, from https://alzconnected.org/?_ga=2.232595097.707921708.1686143345-2147107312.1686143345&_gl=1%2Ahoraff%2A_ga%2AMjE0NzEwNzMxMi4xNjg2MTQzMzQ1%2A_ga_9JTEWVX24V%2AMTY4NjE1MTg4MS4yLjEuMTY4NjE1MjAyNS4zOS4wLjA.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, February 2). Alzheimer’s disease. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350447


Stages

Alzheimer’s disease . Pennmedicine.org. (2020, December 31). https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/neuroscience-blog/2019/november/stages-of-alzheimers


How to care for someone with Alzheimer’s

Eske , J. (2023, June 21). Caring for someone with alzheimer’s: Our guide and tips. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326374


Statistics and percentage

Alzheimer’s Association. (2023). Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures#:~:text=More%20than%206%20million%20Americans%20of%20all%20ages%20have%20Alzheimer%27s,older%20(10.7%25)%20has%20Alzheimer%27s


Event

Alzheimer’s Association . (2023b). Programs event calendar. Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. https://www.alz.org/iowa/helping_you/programs-event-calendar



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