Facing Alzheimer’s can be painful for families. For many, there’s a sense of “I don’t want to know.” But early detection is beneficial for both patients and their families.
There are treatments available (as noted by the Alzheimer’s Association) that may provide symptom relief and also help those with the disease maintain independence longer. Some of these include prescription medications that are approved to treat early-to-moderate stages, as well as those for moderate-to-severe stages.
If it is suspected that a person has Alzheimer’s disease, can anything be done to prevent it? Is there a cure?
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s today, but there is evidence that implementing strategies for health and activity can help improve symptoms and increase quality of life. Studies have shown, for example, that staying active can help. Exercise can improve memory function and brain function. Exercise can also improve moods. A study from Denmark suggests that exercise was actually able to improve Alzheimer’s symptoms, as reported by AARP Magazine.
Conversely, loneliness can take a toll on brain health. Researchers suspect that loneliness may actually have physiological effects. Ensuring that you and a loved one stay connected to friends and family is important. Home health care aides can play an important role in providing daily contact and interaction and getting loved ones out and about.
“I’ve heard that there still is no way to really determine Alzheimer’s, so why go through that?” This is a serious concern some have about the process of diagnosing this disease. Recently, there have been a number of articles about possible new methods of early diagnosis that have been debated (the use of amyloid PET imaging, for example). And the Alzheimer’s Association states, “There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s.” But they also note that, “Experts estimate a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s with more than 90 percent accuracy.”
The key to diagnosis is to find the right doctor. If you are concerned that you or a loved one are exhibiting warning signs of Alzheimer’s, speak with your physician about the next steps to take in finding the specialist that’s right for you. Also, your local Alzheimer’s Association can help you with a list of Alzheimer’s specialists near you. Specialists who can help identify the cause of dementia are neurologists (who specialize in the brain and nervous system), psychiatrists and psychologists.
What are some key warning signs?
- Forgetfulness that affects your daily life.
- e.g.: Forgetting important appointments or events.
- Difficulty in problem solving.
- e.g.: Difficulty managing monthly bills or balancing accounts.
- Challenges concentrating.
- e.g.: Taking longer than usual to read and understand instructions.
- Struggling with daily chores.
- e.g.: Having trouble remembering how to work household appliances.
- Confusion about time and place.
- e.g.: Forgetting where they are.
- Reduction in ability to process spatial relationships.
- e.g.: Difficulty driving or parking their car.
- Speech issues.
- e.g.: Struggling with vocabulary or identifying objects with incorrect names.
- Lapses in judgment.
- e.g.: Erratic spending.
- Changes in grooming habits.
- e.g.: Decreasing attention to personal hygiene.
- Dramatic personality changes.
- e.g.: Mood swings or withdrawal at work or with social groups.
Early detection not only allows patients and their families to explore treatment options, but it enables them to work together to determine a care plan in advance. What are your wishes for remaining in your home as long as possible? How do you want your health care managed as the condition may progress? These are important decisions and discussing them before conditions worsen affords families the peace of mind of knowing a care plan is in place.
At Premier Home Health Care, we want to provide families with the tools they need to begin having these conversations. Our Quick Assessment to help determine if it’s time for home health care, our look at Home Health Care vs. Nursing Home Care, and our Starter Guide are several resources that we hope will help lay the foundation for these discussions. Please call us at 1-866-255-8620 to talk to our care specialists.