For those who are getting older or who are caring for a loved one who’s advancing in age, it can be the scariest words they can hear from their doctor: Alzheimer’s disease. The phrase itself brings up fears of living without knowing who you are or not being recognized by your family members. While the disease can be devastating, the more you know about it, the better prepared you can be to deal with it. Read on to learn 10 essential facts about this disorder and what can be done.
1. It’s the Most Common Form of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that can cause memory loss and a growing inability to handle even basic functions of daily life. It’s believed that 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 and older have the disease, and almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
2. The Disease Can Kill
Even though most people think of Alzheimer’s disease as one that causes problems with memory, it’s also deadly. In the advanced stages, patients with the disease are unable to move or feed themselves, leading to pneumonia or death from infected ulcers. The disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also the fifth-leading cause of death among seniors over the age of 65.
3. The Disease is Growing More Common, Not Less
While deaths from diseases like cancer or heart attacks have dropped, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased in recent years. America’s population is growing older, leading more to develop dementia. While deaths from a heart attack over the last 14 years have decreased by 14%, deaths from Alzheimer’s have doubled.
4. There’s No Cure
Scientists have been working for decades to try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but are nowhere near curing it. Part of the problem is that no one really knows what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most cases, and there are competing theories. If scientists can find out the cause, then they can start working on a cure or a vaccine, but we’re not there yet.
5. The Disease is Genetic
If you’re related to someone with Alzheimer’s, there’s a chance you might have it, too. Scientists have found a significant genetic factor with 1% to 5% of cases having a hereditary connection, meaning the disease can run in the family.
6. The Disease Can Be Slowed Down
While doctors can’t cure dementia yet, they’ve found ways to slow down its progress. High blood pressure and lack of exercise are risk factors for the disease, so exercise and a healthy diet can help delay it. There are also medications which have been able to extend quality of life. Mental stimulation like solving jigsaw puzzles, reading, and playing chess can also help to prevent or slow down the disease.
7. The Disease Can Be Hard to Deal With
Living with dementia can be a terrifying experience. The early stages can be annoying with forgetting the names or friends and family, but the disease will progress to the point where patients will forget things, get lost easily, and have trouble sleeping. Alzheimer’s patients can also be prone to wandering off. In the later stages, a patient will grow more and more confused and have a hard time sleeping and eating.
8. Caring for Patients Can Be Even Harder
Dementia behavior can be hard to deal with. Caregivers will have to take on more and more responsibility as patients lose their ability to function. Patients can also become abusive and paranoid. Caregivers of dementia patients suffer twice as many emotional and health problems than caregivers of people without dementia.
9. The Disease is Expensive
Caregivers can also suffer financial problems caring for patients with Alzheimer’s because these patients have more chronic conditions and hospital stays every year than other older people. A large number of elderly people in nursing home care have Alzheimer’s or some other dementia.
10. Most Patients End Up Needing Memory Care
With the emotional, medical, and financial burdens of Alzheimer’s, a memory care facility can be the best option instead of trying to care for a dementia patient yourself. Nurses in memory care communities can make sure patients get proper nutrition and exercise, manage their medications, and spot problems early that an untrained caregiver might not notice.
Visit a Memory Care Facility Today!
There are many things that can be scary if you’re facing dementia or someone you love has been diagnosed with it, but you’re not alone. As you can see, there are ways to prevent and manage the disease, and people who can help you with it. If you’re looking for a memory care community in Gulf Breeze, Pensacola FL, schedule a tour today to see if Watermark of Gulf Breeze is the right place to guide you on your journey.