The Degrading Reality of Alzheimer’s Disease - And How You Can Help

communication and cognition Feb 01, 2023

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? We are talking about a disease that robs its victims of things precious to them, their identity, independence, and connections. This disease is Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a brain disorder that has an effect on memory, behavior, and the ability to make decisions.  

Alzheimer’s disease destroys brain cells, causing the loss of abilities—especially brain-related functions.

 Alzheimer’s causes the degradation of a person’s memory, the alteration of a person’s behavior which leads to adverse changes in their personality, and the loss of body functions.

To add to the terror of knowing the effects of this disease, you’ll find that there is no cure for it.

            How Bad Is Alzheimer’s?

If you want to think, “memory loss is a natural part of aging,” understand that Alzheimer’s does not cause the occasional memory loss.

 Would you be okay with forgetting the route to your house altogether? Or the name of your best friend or children?

And think about the effect it has on behavior and body functions. Those with this disease may not connect with those they love. They can lose their abilities to walk, talk, think, and even eat. 

It is a terrible reality for those who have Alzheimer’s. While it is a disease that primarily affects older adults, young ones aren’t safe either. Studies show it can affect the elderly and young ones, down to thirty.

None of us is safe from this crippling disease. Though its end is not yet insight, we can help ease people’s pain with Alzheimer’s. How can you do this?

            Let’s look at ways to help those struggling with Alzheimer’s disease:

1. Encourage healthy eating. Alzheimer’s causes inflammation in the brain and other factors stopping brain cells from communicating. Healthy eating can reduce inflammation and protect the brain.
Providing healthy meals with a variety of ingredients like vegetables, berries and fish can help against Alzheimer’s.
2. Encourage physical exercise. Exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain connections. It fights against Alzheimer’s disease, which seeks to break down brain connections.
Help victims of Alzheimer’s get moderate levels of exercise daily. It could be a short walk or more, depending on the person’s ability. Doing this could help reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s.
3. Encourage mental stimulation. As the saying goes, if you don’t use your brain, you’ll lose it. Help victims of Alzheimer’s keep their brains active. It could be through constant communication with them.
It helps them engage in organizational tasks and increases social interactions. Studies show that cognitive abilities improve in people who undergo mental stimulation.

            These tips may help Alzheimer’s patients reduce the decline from the disease:

1. Maintain a daily routine for them. What feels familiar goes ways to improve the mood of Alzheimer’s patients. Create routines that lean towards their preferences. Help them engage in activities that have meaning for them.
Consider when they feel freshest. As you create familiar routines, they’ll know what to expect. When they know they will engage in activities that interest them, they are happier.
2. Be patient with them. You’ll need a lot of patience in dealing with people with Alzheimer’s. They may struggle with tasks and get frustrated, taking it out on you. They may also seem confused a lot. And will have difficulty remembering things that were simpler to them.
Don’t lose your temper or argue with them if they seem unreasonable. Also, don’t rush to fill in the blanks if they forget something. Instead, take your time to guide them if they get confused. These patients are going through a difficult time. Your patience will ease this a little.
3. Help them connect. They will have a hard time expressing themselves. Show victims you’re willing to communicate with them despite this difficulty. Call them by their name and look into their eyes when talking to them.
A gentle touch to guide them helps them feel your affection. Though they may struggle to speak, don’t talk to them like a baby.

Alzheimer’s disease is a tough reality we must face. While it saddens us, you can gain joy from this knowledge. When you put the points discussed into practice, you can make it more bearable for those affected.

Nancy Wariari, MHA, MS CCC-SLP

SLP Neuro Care, PLLC

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