Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and memory loss in aging adults. The condition doesn’t only affect the individual with Alzheimer’s but also their family and friends.
Whether you’ve had first-hand experience caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or know someone who has, you know how debilitating it is.
One of the most significant issues with Alzheimer’s is that experts still don’t know what causes it, how to prevent it, or how to treat it.
However, there are two ways we can all join the fight against Alzheimer’s: learning more about the disease and participating in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event. Alzheimer’s walks bring awareness and help support the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Keep reading to learn about Alzheimer’s and how to register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Richmond, VA this fall.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
When talking about memory loss, most people know two words: dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dementia is the general term for any amount of memory loss that affects daily life. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that causes dementia.
Though there’s still no known cause for Alzheimer’s, scientists do know that Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease resulting from cell damage. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that starts slowly and becomes more severe over time.
Some common Alzheimer’s symptoms include:
- Forgetting recently learned information
- Difficulty concentrating
- Asking the same questions over again
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Misplacing items and inability to retrace steps
There’s still no known cure, and though some treatments exist, there aren’t any ways to stop Alzheimer’s from progressing.
How Does Alzheimer’s Affect Family and Friends?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the individual as well as their family and friends. Families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease can experience emotional and physical turmoil as they watch their loved ones progress.
With Alzheimer’s, a person starts to forget familiar things. These ordinary things can be memories, people, names, places, etc. Nothing and no one is safe from memory loss, including spouses and children. Alzheimer’s patients not remembering family members is one of the most challenging things for families to face.
Second, Alzheimer’s can cause personality changes. The person you remember begins to slip away as Alzheimer’s progresses. Though the outward appearance of someone with Alzheimer’s stays the same, the way they act, think, and even the things they say can change. These changes can make it difficult for friends or relatives of Alzheimer’s patients to remember who their loved ones were before Alzheimer’s.
The physical effects of having a family member with Alzheimer’s usually comes in the form of caregiving. Taking on the responsibility of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s usually adds the most immediate burden to family and friends.
Since Alzheimer’s won’t immediately affect loved ones’ daily routines, care often begins simply. The person with Alzheimer’s can still remember to dress, feed, and generally care for themselves. However, as the disease progresses, Alzheimer’s caregivers need to increase the time and attention given to their loved ones. This can add strain on the caregiver’s job, relationships, kids, health, etc.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is no easy task, so we want to provide insight into what it might look like and some things you can do.
How to Care for Alzheimer’s Patients at Home
Alzheimer’s progresses in three phases: early, middle, and late. An Alzheimer’s caregiver’s role will change in each of these stages.
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, your role as a caregiver is mostly hands-off. You may need to help with small tasks or help remember insignificant things, but your loved one will still be independent. Some tips for enjoying time with your loved one in the early stage are:
- Live in the moment and enjoy each day.
- Live with a sense of urgency: if you want to do something with your loved one, do it.
- Appreciate the small moments.
The middle stage is where caregiving becomes more hands-on. Your loved one may need help with more daily tasks like transportation and remembering important things. Here are some ways to handle the middle stage:
- Help your loved one write down tasks for each day.
- Keep duplicates of things in the house to limit frustrations.
- Create an organized structure and plan for the day.
By the late stage, your loved one may be completely unaware of their surroundings. Your attention and care may be on them constantly, but there’s a chance they won’t recognize you. It’s important to remember who your loved one was and the things they liked.
There are still ways to connect and communicate with your loved one. Individuals with Alzheimer’s still respond to touch and smell. You can hold their hand or apply their favorite lotion to their hands. If you know your loved one’s favorite music, you can play that.
Though connection through speech and new experiences may not be possible, you can still spend time with and remember your loved one.
Home Care for Alzheimer’s Patients
A practical way to get respite as a caregiver and provide your loved one with quality hands-on care is through an in-home caregiver. Alzheimer’s caregivers know precisely how to care for Alzheimer’s patients at home.
Caregivers will spend time with your loved one and help them with daily life tasks. A caregiver will also know and understand the value of memory care. They can play memory games with your loved one and help promote brain health as they age.
An in-home caregiver is also an excellent service for Alzheimer’s individuals who want to stay in their home. Since an in-home caregiver will go directly to your loved one’s place of residence, your loved one won’t need to relocate to get assistance.
In-home help for Alzheimer’s patients has many benefits for family members and the individual with Alzheimer’s.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Richmond, VA
Alzheimer’s is a disease that has no cure and no effective treatments. More than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 146% from 2000 to 2018.
So, what can we do about it?
Register and participate in a 2021 Alzheimer’s walk!
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s event takes place every year around the U.S. This event is a fundraiser to support the fight against Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s walks are free, but participants are encouraged to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. These funds will go towards continuing research to find an Alzheimer’s cure.
Participating in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event is as easy as following these three steps:
- Register for your local Walk.
- Start raising funds and spreading the word (the Alzheimer’s Association will provide tips and coaching).
- Join on Walk day.
By registering for and joining an Alzheimer’s walk, you’ll support the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s and those researching a cure.
Commonwise Home Care is a local Richmond, VA in-home care company. We provide quality in-home care to those dealing with Alzheimer’s. Our Care Managers and in-home caregivers have special training in Alzheimer’s care to alleviate the burden of care on family members and provide the best assistance to Alzheimer’s individuals.
Contact our Care Advisors to see how in-home care may help you and your loved one dealing with Alzheimer’s. If you’re an adult child with parents who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we’re here for you.