In an earlier post, (Early Stages of Alzheimer’s: Helping Elderly Parents through Understanding) we presented the signs of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly and how taking immediate action can help the elder and the family in the long-term. We are optimists at Elder Helpers and believe that with adaptation and care from the family, people can still live happy and fulfilling lives when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We will present strategies for you, the caregiver, to help the elder achieve this and enable your non-medical care to be the most rewarding and effective as possible.
We have broken down the care for Alzheimer’s into three categories: prevention, protection and support:
Kick the smoking
It has been shown that smokers or alcohol drinkers have a mental decline faster than people who do not engage in the same activities. Avoiding smoking and drinking can also help prevent other aging diseases.
Eat Healthy & Exercise
High blood pressure has been linked with reduced brain function. Eating healthy and exercising can also help to prevent or alleviate diabetes, another serious aging disease.
Stay Mentally Active
Many believe that by exercising the mind by practicing math or learning a new foreign language can strengthen it by giving the brain cells generated during the day a reason to ‘stick around’.
With protection, we mean keeping the elderly and caregiver in a safe environment by taking simple steps that anyone can follow to enable the elder to stay safe and independent. Later stages of Alzheimer’s can especially dangerous for both the seniors and the caregiver, during this phase you are advised to seek medical attention.
Try to keep their routine simple and easy to understand. You can try creating a spreadsheet of activities with dates and times, posting it on the refrigerator to help them remember.
Keep Your Message Simple
Try repeating the key points several times if necessary or using non-verbal communication to convey your message. You may also write down the message and give to the elder, or touch their hand when speaking with them if you have a close relationship. These strategies may help them to remember the message that you are sending them.
Know the ‘Quirks’
Target the behavior changes or actions that the elder may have and find preventative measures to take and help keep them safe. Some elders may consistently misplace their keys, adopt strange eating habits or other abnormal behavior. When you understand them, you can take measures to reduce the consequences and help them to live a productive life.
Experiencing Alzheimer’s disease is not easy for the elder, the family or their caregiver. It is important for not only the elder to know that they have support, but also those affected by the aging disease to understand that there are resources available.
Dementia Treatment Guide : A free, downloadable PDF from the University of California Davis with more information on dementia for elders and their caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Support Forum: : A free forum to connect with other families or Alzheimer’s patients or gain support or first hand knowledge about the experiences of the aging disease.
Elder Helpers: A non-profit program that connects elders with volunteer caregivers in their community.
Our brain stores information like a computer and different parts have different functions. When we are young, our parts are constantly being upgraded because our brain increases the numbers of cells it contains, which are like the memory in your computer.
Everyday a person generates brain cells and older brain cells deteriorate, this is the cycle of memory in the brain. When we get older, the brain cells can deteriorate more rapidly and we experience a loss of memory because of this. In some cases, the loss can occur with cells such as dopamine, which are important to our bodily movements.
Because the deterioration of brain cells gets worse with age, Parkinson’s also gets increasingly worse. It is important understanding the signs early:
• Stiff muscles
• Slow movement
• Problems with balancing or walking
• Trembling or shaking in the hands, arms or legs
Be careful when considering if someone you know has Parkinson’s disease, as stiff muscles could be an indication of Arthritis and slow movement or problems balancing could be the result of Osteoporosis. Trembling or shaking is the most distinctive symptom of Parkinson’s from the list above.
We will post additional information in the future about caring for treatment. Seniors in latter stages of Parkinson’s disease may benefit from Parkinson’s disease volunteer caregivers and can search for volunteers their community by clicking the link above.