Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

October is typically when individuals and teams gather across the nation to walk together with the goal to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care and research. This year the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s looks a little different, but the commitment from the various communities is still the same. The Preserve is proud to participate and will walk in honor of individuals who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and those who lovingly care for them each day.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Defined by the Alzheimer’s Association as a type of dementia that affects an individual’s memory, thinking and behavior, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of cases. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities, and is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s.

With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and being the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, it has reached crisis level – one that we cannot ignore.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Worsening over time, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that is not a normal part of aging. In the early stages, memory loss can be mild, but as it progresses to late-stage, individuals with Alzheimer’s may not be able to carry on a conversation or fully understand their environment. Although research continues, there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. For now we are relying on treatments to help slow the progression and to help improve quality of life for those affected by the disease and their caregivers. The most common symptoms at various stages of the disease include, but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty remembering information
  • Disorientation
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Confusion
  • Becoming suspicious of loved ones or caregivers
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing

People who are beginning to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s find it difficult to realize they have a problem. The various signs may be more evident to family members or caregivers. It’s important to see a doctor when these dementia-like symptoms begin to appear.

The Alzheimer’s Brain

The human brain is made up of billions of nerve cells (neurons), each one connecting with others to form various communication networks. Each group of neurons have a specific task and work together much like a factory. Some are responsible for thinking, learning and remembering, and other nerve cell groups may help us see, smell and hear. When you think about it, the function of the brain is quite amazing but just as our body does, the brain changes as we age. A common belief of scientists is that Alzheimer’s disease prevents the nerve cell factories from functioning properly. Research is still being done to pinpoint exactly where the breakdown occurs, and how to prevent damage to the brain.

Memory Care at The Preserve

It’s important to stay current on the latest research and education when caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Resources and other dementia-specific modalities are available to staff, family members and volunteers through our affiliation with professional organizations.

Offering a continuum of care that supports the whole person, the residents and their families can be assured that as health needs change, additional care is available right on site. Our staff receives specialized, ongoing training on the various areas of the disease progression, tips for communication, managing challenging behaviors and concepts on caring for individuals with dementia. In addition, we understand the importance of life enrichment when caring for those with memory loss and have various programs that can be adapted to fit specific memory support needs. Contact The Preserve to learn more about our memory care programs and living environment.