As the most common form of dementia, an estimated 5.2 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). By 2025 – and as baby boomers continue to age – the number of people stricken by AD is projected to surpass seven million. Having someone close to you diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be a real game-changer for any family, including yours. Read on to learn more about this debilitating disease, along with preventative measures you can take to keep your aging loved ones safe.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
Although the risk of Alzheimer’s increases with age (late-onset AD), those under age 65 can also be afflicted (early-onset AD). Alzheimer’s and many other dementias occur when damage to brain cells alters their ability to communicate with one another. More specifically, AD is a brain disease resulting from the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells that cause plaque or tangles to develop.
According to a recent study, modifiable risk factors for developing AD include:
- Physical inactivity
- Current cigarette smoking
How is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?
Doctors typically diagnose AD by ruling out any other reason for these symptoms:
- Difficulty planning or solving problems
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Problems completing everyday tasks
- Time or place confusion
- Speaking or writing challenges
- Trouble understanding visual images and special relationships
- Repeatedly misplacing items
- Changes in mood, personality, or judgment
- Withdrawing from work or social activities
Alzheimer’s has traditionally been diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe. However, thanks to innovative imaging approaches and biomarkers, researchers are now proposing new stages that include pre-clinical Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Living with Alzheimer’s Disease
Once diagnosed with AD, maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and regular aerobic exercise will help your loved one live life to the fullest. If they have high blood pressure or diabetes, those conditions must be managed effectively with or without medications.
It’s also essential to create a support system for your loved one that includes these proactive measures:
- Promptly treat neuropsychiatric symptoms such as agitation or depression.
- Get a good night’s sleep (7 to 8 hours per day).
- Join an AD support group.
- Form a caregiving team that includes doctors, mental health professionals, physical, speech, and occupational therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists, professional in-home caregivers, and others.
Alzheimer’s Prevention Tips for Family Caregivers
Healthy living habits adopted at any age can help prevent or manage risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s. Here are some impactful places for your senior to start:
Numerous studies suggest that an active lifestyle that includes social activities may reduce the likelihood of developing AD.
Exercise the brain too
Studies have shown that older adults who remain intellectually active are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Great brain-stimulating activities for seniors include taking classes, learning a new language or musical instrument, playing board games, and reading books.
Follow a Mediterranean diet
While cutting back on red meat, fill your senior’s plate with lots of fruits and veggies, poultry, fish, whole grains, and olive oil. A little wine is also okay once it’s been approved by their doctor.
Protect their head
Another risk factor for AD is traumatic brain injury (TBI), notably resulting from repeated concussions. Minimize your loved one’s risk of TBI by convincing them to wear a seatbelt while riding in a motor vehicle or participating in activities such as kayaking, bicycling, riding a horse, contact sports, etc.
Your In-Home Dementia Care Source in Indianapolis, IN
When you need a reliable in-home dementia care provider in the Greater Indianapolis area, look no further than Senior1Care. As your family-trusted home care source, our dedicated, compassionate professionals deliver exceptional care to individuals seeking dependable ways to maintain their independent lifestyles. While proudly serving clients and their families since 2006, our unique scope of services ranges from personal care and household services to dementia care, family consultation, and geriatric care counseling.
We are a local, family-owned, and operated home care company with services that can be uniquely tailored to meet each client’s needs. To learn more about Senior1Care or schedule an assessment for a senior in Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, or Noblesville today, please visit us by clicking here now.