Understanding and Managing Alzheimer’s
As people age, it’s perfectly natural for us to become forgetful. We lose track of our keys, forget why we entered a room, look for reading glasses sitting on our heads. But there are some memory changes that are more significant.
If you or a loved one start to see dramatic changes like the following, it may be time to consider the possibility of Alzheimer’s:
- Significant memory loss, such as going to an appointment but forgetting later that you went.
- Abstract thought impairment that might make it hard to remember how to do things like pump gas or use a toothbrush.
- Getting lost in a familiar setting like your own neighborhood.
- Difficulty recalling information, such as failing to remember a recent conversation.
While only a physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s, these symptoms may be leading indicators that it’s time to visit your family physician to discuss your concerns. There are a number of other possible explanations, from medication issues to a vitamin deficiency, which may lead to dementia-like symptoms.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
If your physician determines that symptoms do indicate Alzheimer’s disease, you may immediately assume a worst-case scenario. But the disease progresses through three different stages – each with its own complications and each with varying timelines. As the disease progresses, people typically have more trouble with memory, daily tasks, and thinking ability.
- At the early (or mild) stage, a person may still be able to live on their own and meet their own daily needs. They may notice memory problems like forgetfulness or confusion. This stage may also include reading problems as well as poor direction sense.
- The middle (or moderate) stage is typically the longest stage, potentially lasting for many years after an initial diagnosis. People in this stage often have memory problems and difficulty functioning in ways that are visible to others, including impulsiveness, poor judgement, and a reduced attention span.
- The late (or severe) stage is the most advanced stage of the disease. A person with late-stage Alzheimer’s will need constant care and supervision. They may lose control of many of their bodily functions, be confused about surroundings, or forget recent memories. Some patients also see personality changes.
Treatment and Care Options
At each stage of illness, treatment requirements will change, but there are treatment and care options designed to help improve the quality of life every step of the way. While there is currently no known cure, there are drug treatments which can help improve cognitive functioning and alleviate some symptoms. A doctor can help you decide on the best treatment options for your loved one.
Unfortunately, most patients who have Alzheimer’s disease eventually reach a point where they require some level of skilled care, frequently beyond what most family members are able to offer. At that point, it’s important to have a plan in place to transition to an assisted living facility and eventually a skilled nursing care facility like those managed in Alabama by American Health Corporation.
At each of our available facilities, our highly skilled nurses provide the best quality care, working with the residents and their families to create a comfortable environment that provides simple routines and visual cues as a positive substitute for diminishing mental processes that come with Alzheimer’s.
We’re proud to offer skilled nursing healthcare nearby and offer active restorative programs to help residents maintain their skills and abilities to live as independently as possible.
To discuss the memory care available at one of the three American Health Corporation locations in Alabama – or schedule a facility tour – contact the American Health Corporation nursing home in your area today:
Oak Trace (Bessemer, AL) 205-428-9383
Colonial Haven (Greensboro, AL) 334-624-3054
Perry County Nursing Home (Marion, AL) 334-683-9696