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Spring Arbor of Raleigh
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For families whose senior loved ones struggle with afflictions, holidays can be challenging times. But, with a little planning and support, the festivities can still be special. Setting realistic expectations is a key to eliminating stress. It may be difficult to look forward to the holidays when a beloved family member is not himself. Your holidays will be doubly challenging, but they can still be special for your family if you try to limit what you do. Communicate concerns. In advance of the holidays, be candid with family and friends about your loved one’s condition and your concerns, and enlist their support. Use this season of giving as an opportunity to discuss sharing family responsibilities and to strive for family togetherness. Set realistic expectations. Consider both what the individual with dementia is capable of and what you, as a caregiver, can handle given your demanding role. Then, put celebrations into manageable proportions. This can help decrease stress and head off feelings of depression that stem from unrealistic expectations, both for you and your loved one. Adapt family gatherings. Since crowds, noise and altering routines can aggravate confusion and other behavioral problems, revising your get-togethers may be in order. For example, instead of entertaining the whole clan, limit the number of attendees at a holiday dinner or spread out several smaller gatherings on different days. Pare down traditions. With round-the-clock caregiving, it may not be feasible to juggle all of your religious and ethnic observances. You can still keep traditions alive; just reduce their number to avoid feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Ask your loved one which traditions to choose, since it will be another way to involve him. Talk with the patient's physician and get an indication of how much they can do. Discuss with family members how much you think your loved one should try to do, based on the doctor’s recommendations. Remember that the patient may be feeling as if they are strong enough to do more, but that could be a dangerous risk. Let them know that what you’re doing is based on a doctor’s recommendations and in their best interests. Then stick to your plan. Even a short time together might be very special. For more information on caring for an aging parent or loved one, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive caregiverstress.com
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'With less things to care for, you have more time to enjoy life' Downsizing a home can be bittersweet — sometimes it is being done by adult children or grandchildren. They often express they feel guilty about the process — however they don't like, want or need many of their relative's things. So, what's a graceful way to undertake downsizing? 1. Take your time, if possible It is going to be a much larger job than you anticipated so start early. It is a huge undertaking and can often take six months to a year to clear out a house. The job of clearing out a house is often left to adult children if elderly parents become sick before they have had a chance to do it — a stressful chore. 2. Be ruthless When deciding what items will be moving to your new location, be ruthless. Only take items that fit your current lifestyle. Once the sold sign goes on, the clock is ticking to moving day. However, a caution on ruthlessness for adult children helping parents downsize, remember — it's not your stuff. If possible make sure your parents are the primary decision-makers about what to keep (with a little prodding). It's really hard for elderly parents to make such a big change so every little decision seems very important. 3. Give up your role as 'keeper of the things' You can no longer be the keeper of the items. Stop storing things for your children/parents/friends. 4. Take only what fits If possible, know the dimensions of the space you are moving to. Are you going from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo? Perhaps your favourite pieces of furniture will be too big. 5. Donate, give away and sell Give yourself lots of time, hire someone to help, get a dumpster, donate as much as you can to charity. After you get past the realization that it's just material stuff ... it is so easy. Donation is key. What a great feeling to give to organizations that really need help. Find someone in your life that will treasure and enjoy the item as much as you do. But don't attach expectations to the items, such as being prominently displayed in someone else's home. You could also have a yard sale, sell some items online or hire an auction house. 6. Take photos Take a photo of your favorite things that are going to new homes. Enjoy the memories associated with the item and appreciate the role it played in your life, then let it go. 7. Don't re-accumulate stuff Keep only the things that you would use every day and the freedom that comes with downsizing is unbelievable. Life became very easy and very stress-free. For more information on helping a loved one downsize to an assisted living home, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive CBC
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Ho! Ho! Ho! You'll better watch out our fun and more exciting activities this month of December.


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12/5/18
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During the holidays, many of us will be visiting aging parents. It’s a perfect time to observe them in their “natural habitat” – you’ll see how they’re really doing . Plus, these tips help you focus on important details that will make a big difference in the long run. 1. Discreetly check on independent parents When your parents are living independently, the holidays are a great time to discreetly check on them. If you do this every year and keep a few notes, you’ll be able to spot changes more easily in the future. Try and evaluate any changes in their physical, mental, and emotional health. 2. Spend an afternoon on home safety updates While you’re visiting, you might have an opportunity to make a few simple safety updates. These easy fixes don’t take much time and will help your parents avoid common accidents so they can stay independent longer. They don’t take a lot of time, but they’re very effective. If their bath mats are slippery (a real hazard!), replace them with these stylish low-profile, non-slip mats 3. Have meaningful conversations about the future When family gets together over the holidays, it’s a good opportunity for meaningful conversations. If you haven’t already started talking about aging and plans for the future, consider bringing up the subject at a strategic time. You might be surprised – many parents appreciate having these conversation and will be grateful that you brought it up. Use these tips to prepare for a successful conversation and keep these conversation starters in your back pocket to make it easier to get the ball rolling. Bottom line This year, use some of your time at home to do 3 things: make sure your parents are doing well, make simple home safety updates, and start important conversations about the future. For more information on care for aging parents, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive dailycaring.com
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The Retirees deliberating a destination tend to consider only the most well-known retirement states, places like Florida and Arizona. But there are some retirement gems among the Mid-Atlantic states, too, including Virginia. Need convincing? Consider these reasons to retire in Virginia. Virginia is tax-friendly for retirees An important part of your retirement decision will be taxes. They can sneak up on you quickly, and it’s a good idea to be prepared if you’ll be living on a fixed income. Fortunately, Virginia has some of the lowest overall tax rates in the nation, which makes it very attractive to retirees. In Virginia, all Social Security income is exempt from income tax, as is earned income that totals less than $12,000 per year. The average property tax rate is under 1%, and the maximum possible sales tax is 6%. Taxes on groceries come in at 2.5%. Meanwhile, prescription drugs, as well as most over-the-counter drugs, are tax-exempt. Taken all together, that makes Virginia a great place to retire as far as taxes are concerned. Virginia has communities for every income level The average cost of living in Virginia is 9.4% above the national average. That might sound scary at first, but some cities have higher costs than others. For instance, though it’s a popular retirement city, Williamsburg has a cost of living that is 31.6% above the national average. You’ll find lower costs nearby if you consider retiring in Virginia Beach or Norfolk. If you’re interested in retiring in the Washington, D.C area, know that Northern Virginia, outside Washington, also tends to be expensive. That’s especially true in suburbs close to the nation’s capital such as Alexandria and Arlington. But you’ll find less expensive small cities farther from Washington, in areas around Richmond and Roanoke, and in the lovely Shenandoah Valley. Crime rates are low in Virginia When it comes to public safety, Virginia knows exactly what it’s doing. The Old Dominion has maintained one of the lowest crime rates in the U.S. for many years. In fact, Virginia has the third lowest violent crime rate in the nation, as well as the fifth lowest overall crime rate. In addition, only 8% of crime in Virginia is violent crime. That compares with 12% average nationally. Virginia blends city and country lifestyles In Virginia, you’re never far from the city buzz or country leisure; both experiences are an important part of living in the commonwealth. You can have a great time living in Richmond, an urban city with a population of 223,000, and decide to take a day trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, a gorgeous portion of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. Virginia offers a wealth of history Virginia was founded in 1607 and was one of the original 13 United States colonies. This beautiful state is an undeniable part of U.S. history. Historic landmarks include the Jamestowne colony, Revolutionary Yorktown, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and Civil War sites such as Appomattox Court House. History buffs and their visiting grandchildren won’t run out of places to visit and explore in Virginia. Virginians enjoy countless festivals Virginia has all kinds of festivals year-round, making it easy to experience something new and exciting every week. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival runs in April, with widely loved events that draw hundreds of thousands of people. July marks the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim, a nearly 100-year-old tradition that corresponds with a Fireman Carnival for some good old-fashioned fair fun. In September, head to Hampton for Bay Days, featuring fireworks, beer tasting, and a car show. Medical care is easy to access in Virginia Despite Virginia’s smaller size, the state boasts 89 hospitals, making it a great place for continuing medical care. You’ll find geriatrics and gerontology centers in Blacksburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. If you’re a military retiree, the Department of Veterans Affairs has medical centers in Hampton, Richmond, and Salem. Statewide in Virginia, there are 127 primary care physicians per 10,000 residents, a higher rate than the national average. Clearly, Virginia can be a great state for staying healthy as you age. Are you ready to retire in Virginia? Contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive after55.com
Reasons to Retire in Virginia
Reasons to Retire in Virginia
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Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is a rare form of dementia that presents unique challenges. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and how to cope. What is early-onset Alzheimer's? Early-onset Alzheimer's is an uncommon form of dementia that strikes people younger than age 65. Of all the people who have Alzheimer's disease, about 5 percent develop symptoms before age 65. So if 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, at least 200,000 people have the early-onset form of the disease. Most people with early-onset Alzheimer's develop symptoms of the disease in their 40s and 50s. Causes Some people with early-onset Alzheimer's have the most common form of the disease. Experts don't know why these people get the disease at a younger age than others do. But others with early-onset Alzheimer's have a type of the disease called "familial Alzheimer's disease." They're likely to have a parent or grandparent who also developed Alzheimer's at a younger age. Early-onset Alzheimer's that runs in families is linked to three genes—the APP, PSEN 1, and PSEN 2—that differ from the APOE gene that can increase your risk of Alzheimer's in general. Together, these three genes account for less than 1 percent of all Alzheimer's disease cases but about 60 to 70 percent of early-onset Alzheimer's cases. If you have a genetic mutation in one of those three genes, you may develop Alzheimer's before age 65. Genetic testing for these mutations is available, but anyone who's considering it should pursue genetic counseling—to examine the pros and cons beforehand. For example, it may be helpful to consider how a positive test may affect your eligibility for long-term care, disability, and life insurance. On the other hand, if you know you carry a form of the early-onset genes, you may be able to take steps to make it easier for you and your loved ones to cope with the effects of the disease. If you have early-onset Alzheimer's linked to one of the three genes or carry a form of these genes without symptoms, talk to your doctor about participating in a research study. By studying the early-onset form of Alzheimer's, researchers hope to learn more about the causes and progression of the disease and develop new treatments. Accurate diagnosis critical An accurate diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's is crucial for medical reasons to rule out other potential issues and get the most appropriate treatment as well as for personal and professional reasons. For you and your family, the diagnosis is fundamental in helping the family respond with appropriate understanding and compassion. It can also give you and your family more time to make important decisions about financial and legal issues. At work, it can allow you to explain your condition to your employer and perhaps arrange a lighter workload or more convenient schedule. How to cope with early-onset Alzheimer's Alzheimer's disease has a tremendous impact at any age. But people with early-onset Alzheimer's disease may face some unique challenges. They may face stigmas and stereotypes about the disease. Due to their young age, people may not believe they have the disease or question the diagnosis. People with early-onset Alzheimer's may lose relationships or jobs instead as a consequence of this misunderstanding rather than being identified as medically ill or disabled. They may also face a loss of income from being diagnosed while still working. What to do at work Before your condition significantly affects your ability to do your job, talk to your employer. What you can do: * Find out if you can switch to a position that better suits your emerging limitations. * Familiarize yourself and your spouse, partner, or caregiver with your benefits, and find out whether an employee assistance program is available. * Explore what benefits may be offered to you under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and COBRA. * If you feel overwhelmed, consider reducing your hours or taking time off. Coping tips for couples After a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's, spouses or partners often feel a sense of loneliness or loss as they face the possibility of spending many years without an active partner. Losing the romantic component and changing to a caregiver status also complicates the relationship. Try to: * Talk about what kind of help you need from each other. Communicate about changes you're experiencing and ways in which your needs also may have changed. Don't be afraid to ask for help. * Continue participating in as many activities with your partner that you currently enjoy and adapt as necessary. Or find new activities that you can enjoy together. * Keep a folder of resources you may need as the disease progresses. * Find a counselor who works with couples facing issues you feel challenged by, such as sexuality and changing roles in the relationship. How to involve kids A diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's can also be difficult for children, who may not understand. Children may blame themselves, become angry, or react in any number of ways. Try to: * Find activities you can enjoy together. * Stay engaged and talk with your children honestly about what you're experiencing. * Find a support group for children, and invite your kids to some of your counseling sessions. Make your child's school counselor and social worker aware of your condition. * Keep a written, video or audio record of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences for your children. They'll appreciate your sharing your wisdom and memories. Financial issues People with early-onset Alzheimer's often have to quit work, and this loss of income is a serious concern. Finances get even tighter if spouses or partners also quit their jobs to become full-time caregivers. Some medical benefits and many social-support programs won't provide assistance unless the person with Alzheimer's is older than age 65. Younger people may need special waivers to get into such programs. What you can do: * Talk with a financial planner and an attorney to help you plan for your future financial needs. * Ask your employer whether early retirement is an option. * Explore what benefits may be available to you through Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. * Organize your financial documents and make sure your spouse or partner understands and can manage your family's finances. Resources for support Key elements of Alzheimer's care are education and support. This is especially true given the unique challenges of early-onset Alzheimer's. Getting connected to services such as support groups can help you identify resources, gain a deeper understanding of the disability, and learn ways to adapt. Remember, you're not alone. Many resources are available to assist you, your family, and caregivers to cope with this disease. Options for support may vary depending on where you live. In the early stages of the disease, be sure that you and your spouse or partner do research and establish a plan for managing the progression of your condition. Knowing you have a plan and have identified support and resources will help everyone in the future. For more information on Alzheimer's care, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive self.com
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More Exciting activities for this month of November.

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11/3/18
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Whether you fear a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or they’ve received a diagnosis, you may be confused, scared, and not sure what to expect. We have rounded up 10 essential facts about Alzheimer’s disease to offer some understanding of what the condition entails. Last week we discussed the first 5 You Should Know. This week we will discuss the remaining five. * There’s also a genetic component for some people, especially those with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease happens when a person develops the condition anywhere from their 30s to mid-60s, according to the NIA. People with this early-onset form comprise less than 10 percent of the Alzheimer’s population. These cases are sometimes due to three specific gene mutations or other genetic factors. However, this kind of genetic influence is only involved in less than 5 percent of Alzheimer’s disease cases overall, according to the Mayo Clinic. Late-onset Alzheimer’s (which is much more common and typically shows up in someone’s mid-60s) mainly arises due to age and brain changes. Genetics are sometimes involved, but much more rarely than in a person who starts exhibiting symptoms when they’re younger. * Experts have pinpointed certain risk factors that increase your odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Getting older is the biggest one, the Mayo Clinic says. To be clear, Alzheimer’s isn’t just a regular part of aging that everyone should expect, but it’s much more common in people over 65. This is part of why women seem to be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease—they simply tend to live longer. Having a first-degree relative (like a dad or sister) with the disease also seems to raise your risk. This is due to that genetic component, which doctors are still investigating. Another potential factor: past head trauma, like a concussion. In general, head injuries can result in less brain [matter] because an accompanying brain injury can occur. Less brain means less ability for the brain to age gracefully. There’s also a surprising potential link between heart disease risk factors and those that contribute to your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. For example, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and poorly controlled type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of developing both conditions. This may be because of a health issue called vascular dementia, which is when impaired blood vessels in the brain cause memory and cognitive difficulties. In addition, Down syndrome is one of the strongest risk factors for one day developing Alzheimer’s, and symptoms tend to present 10 to 20 years earlier than they do in the general population. The Down/Alzheimer’s link may center around having an extra copy of chromosome 21, which is what brings about characteristics of Down syndrome. This extra chromosome material contains the gene that produces those beta-amyloid plaques that can harm brain cells, the NIA explains. * Doctors can’t definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s without looking at a person’s brain, but they know enough about the symptoms to tell when someone has it. The only current test to absolutely confirm Alzheimer’s involves a microscopic exam of a deceased person’s brain to look for those plaques and tangles. Although tests to confirm whether or not a living person has Alzheimer’s seem to be forthcoming, they’re not yet ready for widespread use. Instead, doctors basically make an extremely educated guess. They do this with strategies like ordering blood tests to rule out other causes of memory loss, administering mental status tests to evaluate a person’s thinking and memory, ordering brain imaging such as an MRI or CT scan, and testing a person’s cerebrospinal fluid for biological markers that can point toward the possibility of Alzheimer’s. * There’s no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but certain lifestyle factors could reduce your risk. Research has found a link between engaging in socially and mentally stimulating activities and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems as though these types of activities strengthen your “cognitive reserve,” making it easier for your brain to compensate for age-related changes. Reducing your risk of heart disease may also help lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. Things that promote a healthy body will promote a healthy brain. In this case, healthier blood vessels are less likely to become damaged and more likely to support the brain. Lowering your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s means staying active and eating well, among other things. Exercise may slow existing cognitive deterioration by stabilizing older brain connections and helping to make new connections. Experts are also investigating if exercise can bolster the size of brain structures that are key for memory and learning. In any case, the American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week or 75 minutes of vigorous movement (or a mix of moderate and vigorous workouts) each week. The Mediterranean diet, which focuses on eating produce, healthy oils, and foods low in saturated fat, has also been linked with a lowered risk of developing heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Does this mean you have to overhaul the way you currently eat in order to avoid Alzheimer’s? No. It only means that scientists have studied one specific way of eating enough to land on this result. Healthy eating looks different for different people, and a lot of this can depend on your culture too. The point is really to eat in a way that helps to reinforce your body and mind, not that you need to follow any one type of way for optimal health. * There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatment options to help with symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of medications to help manage the memory loss, confusion, and problems with thinking and reasoning of Alzheimer's disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors are reserved for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. It seems as though they impede the breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical implicated in memory and thinking, but these drugs may start to work less effectively as Alzheimer’s progresses and a person produces less acetylcholine. When it comes to moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, doctors may use a drug called memantine, which appears to regulate glutamate, a neurotransmitter that can cause brain cell death in large amounts. Sometimes doctors prescribe both cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine drugs, since they work in different ways. Unfortunately, these drugs won’t fully stop the progression of the disease. But they may help slow the symptoms so that a person with Alzheimer’s can have a better quality of life for a longer period of time. For more information on Alzheimer's care for a loved one, contact Spring Arbor. source: self.com See previous blog...
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This is stating the obvious: Alzheimer’s disease is terrible, and no one should ever have to deal with it. Whether you fear a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or they’ve received a diagnosis, you may be confused, scared, and not sure what to expect. We have rounded up 10 essential facts about Alzheimer’s disease to offer some understanding of what the condition entails. Below are the first five, in next week's blog we'll cover the other five. * Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive condition that destroys a person’s memory and other important mental (and eventually physical) functions. This disease is the most common cause of dementia, which describes a group of brain disorders that erode a person’s cognitive abilities and communication skills. If someone has Alzheimer’s, they typically experience mild confusion and difficulty remembering things to start, but eventually they may forget important people in their lives; undergo dramatic personality changes; have trouble planning, communicating, and making safe decisions;y and need full-time care. * Alzheimer’s progresses through five stages, and the first one doesn’t cause any symptoms at all. This first stage is called preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. People in this stage don’t exhibit any outward symptoms of the condition, but they are undergoing brain changes that will induce signs of Alzheimer’s down the line. Although symptoms aren’t apparent at this point, experts are working on developing innovative brain imaging technology that might be able to pick up on signs of the condition at this stage. After preclinical Alzheimer’s, which can last for years, a person develops what’s called mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease. This involves confusion, trouble making decisions, and issues remembering things such as recent conversations or upcoming appointments, but not at a severe enough level for it to really affect a person’s job or relationships. The following phase is due to Alzheimer’s disease. This is when symptoms become apparent enough that they often lead to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. At this point, Alzheimer’s is affecting a person’s day-to-day life with symptoms such as noticeable short-term memory loss, trouble with problem-solving, poor decision-making, mood changes, losing items, getting lost themselves (even in familiar locations), and having a hard time expressing themselves. This can translate into the person asking the same question repeatedly because they forget the answer, a difficult time handling what used to be manageable responsibilities (like tracking their budget), and irritability or anger as their world begins to shift in confounding ways. This eventually progresses into moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, which is essentially an intensifying of symptoms. A person with this stage of Alzheimer’s tends to need more care making it through the day and avoiding dangerous situations, such as becoming lost (wandering around to find a familiar setting is common in this stage). This is also when long-term memory becomes more compromised, so a person with this level of Alzheimer’s may begin to forget who their loved ones are or get them confused with each other. Lastly, during severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, a person may be unable to communicate coherently, even if they are physically able to speak. As they lose control over physical functions such as walking, holding their head up, and bladder and bowel activity, they may depend on others to care for them. People with this final stage of Alzheimer’s may also have difficulty swallowing. Sadly, this is often how death from Alzheimer’s can come about. Food or drinks can wind up in the lungs due to impaired swallowing, leading to pneumonia, or a person may become dehydrated or malnourished. There’s no set amount of time it takes for every person with Alzheimer’s to advance through each of these stages, but the Mayo Clinic notes that people with the condition live eight to 10 years after diagnosis on average. * Normal forgetfulness is a thing, and it’s very different from Alzheimer’s-related memory loss. It’s completely fine to occasionally forget where you put things, the names of people you don’t see that often, why you entered a room, and other minor details. Memory lapses can happen for all sorts of reasons, from a lack of sleep to normal cognitive changes as you grow older. Mild forgetfulness is a common complaint in people as they age. The main difference between age-related memory loss and dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease) is that in normal aging, the forgetfulness does not interfere with your ability to carry on with daily activities. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily life. If you or a loved one is dealing with persistent memory loss and accompanying symptoms such as difficulty staying organized, confusion, and mood changes, that’s more of a cause for concern. * Alzheimer’s affects millions of people in the United States, causing over 110,000 deaths each year. Estimates range, but the National Institute on Aging (NIA) says that more than 5.5 million people in the United States have the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States in 2017, killing 116,103 people. * Doctors aren’t totally sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but brain changes are definitely involved. Alzheimer’s disease damages and kills brain cells. This destruction is what affects a person’s cognitive, social, and physical abilities. Researchers have also discovered two specific abnormalities in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. One is that they have plaques, or buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid, that may harm brain cells, including by impeding cell-to-cell communication. Another is tangles in the transportation system that brain cells rely on to move nutrients and other substances that are necessary for your brain to function properly. For more information on Alzheimer's care for a loved one, contact Spring Arbor. self.com
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Alzheimer's disease tends to develops slowly and gradually worsens over several years. Eventually, Alzheimer's disease affects most areas of your brain. Memory, thinking, judgment, language, problem-solving, personality, and movement can all be affected by the disease. There are five stages associated with Alzheimer's disease: preclinical Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, mild dementia due to Alzheimer's, moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's, and severe dementia due to Alzheimer's. Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily function. The five Alzheimer's stages can help you understand what might happen, but it's important to know that these stages are only rough generalizations. The disease is a continuous process. Your experience with Alzheimer's, its symptoms, and when they appear may vary. Preclinical Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease begins long before any symptoms become apparent. This stage is called preclinical Alzheimer's disease. You won't notice symptoms during this stage, nor will those around you. This stage of Alzheimer's can last for years, possibly even decades. Although you won't notice any changes, new imaging technologies can now identify deposits of a protein called amyloid beta that is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The ability to identify these early deposits may be especially important in the future as new treatments are developed for Alzheimer's disease. Additional biomarkers—measures that can indicate an increased risk of disease—have been identified for Alzheimer's disease. These biomarkers can be used to support the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, typically, after symptoms are evident. There are also genetic tests that can tell you if you have a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, particularly early-onset Alzheimer's disease. As with newer imaging techniques, biomarkers and genetic tests will become more important as new treatments for Alzheimer's disease are developed. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease People with mild cognitive impairment have mild changes in their memory and thinking ability. These changes aren't significant enough to affect work or relationships yet. People with MCI may have memory lapses when it comes to information that is usually easily remembered, such as conversations, recent events, or appointments. People with MCI may also have trouble judging the amount of time needed for a task, or they may have difficulty correctly judging the number or sequence of steps needed to complete a task. The ability to make sound decisions can become harder for people with MCI. Not everyone with mild cognitive impairment has Alzheimer's disease. The same procedures used to identify preclinical Alzheimer's disease can help determine whether MCI is due to Alzheimer's disease or something else. Mild dementia due to Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease is often diagnosed in the mild dementia stage, when it becomes clear to family and doctors that a person is having significant trouble with memory and thinking that impacts daily functioning. In the mild Alzheimer's stage, people may experience: * Memory loss for recent events. Individuals may have an especially hard time remembering newly learned information and ask the same question over and over. * Difficulty with problem-solving, complex tasks, and sound judgments. Planning a family event or balancing a checkbook may become overwhelming. Many people experience lapses in judgment, such as when making financial decisions. * Changes in personality. People may become subdued or withdrawn—especially in socially challenging situations—or show uncharacteristic irritability or anger. Reduced motivation to complete tasks also is common. * Difficulty organizing and expressing thoughts. Finding the right words to describe objects or clearly express ideas becomes increasingly challenging. Getting lost or misplacing belongings. Individuals have increasing trouble finding their way around, even in familiar places. It's also common to lose or misplace things, including valuable items. Moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's disease During the moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease, people grow more confused and forgetful and begin to need more help with daily activities and self-care. People with moderate Alzheimer's disease may: * Show increasingly poor judgment and deepening confusion. Individuals lose track of where they are, the day of the week, or the season. They may confuse family members or close friends with one another, or mistake strangers for family. They may wander, possibly in search of surroundings that feel more familiar. These difficulties make it unsafe to leave those in the moderate Alzheimer's stage on their own. * Experience even greater memory loss. People may forget details of their personal history, such as their address or phone number, or where they attended school. They repeat favorite stories or make up stories to fill gaps in memory. * Need help with some daily activities. Assistance may be required with choosing proper clothing for the occasion or the weather and with bathing, grooming, using the bathroom, and other self-care. Some individuals occasionally lose control of their bladder or bowel movements. * Undergo significant changes in personality and behavior. It's not unusual for people with moderate Alzheimer's disease to develop unfounded suspicions—for example, to become convinced that friends, family, or professional caregivers are stealing from them or that a spouse is having an affair. Others may see or hear things that aren't really there. Individuals often grow restless or agitated, especially late in the day. Some people may have outbursts of aggressive physical behavior. Severe dementia due to Alzheimer's disease In the severe (late) stage of Alzheimer's disease, mental function continues to decline, and the disease has a growing impact on movement and physical capabilities. In severe Alzheimer's disease, people generally: * Lose the ability to communicate coherently. An individual can no longer converse or speak coherently, although he or she may occasionally say words or phrases. * Require daily assistance with personal care. This includes total assistance with eating, dressing, using the bathroom, and all other daily self-care tasks. * Experience a decline in physical abilities. A person may become unable to walk without assistance, then unable to sit or hold up his or her head without support. Muscles may become rigid and reflexes abnormal. Eventually, a person loses the ability to swallow and to control bladder and bowel functions. Rate of progression through Alzheimer's disease stages The rate of progression for Alzheimer's disease varies widely. On average, people with Alzheimer's disease live eight to 10 years after diagnosis, but some survive 20 years or more. Pneumonia is a common cause of death because impaired swallowing allows food or beverages to enter the lungs, where an infection can begin. Other common causes of death include dehydration, malnutrition, and other infections. For more information on Alzheimer's care, contact Spring Arbor. #HowYouLive self.com
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