When Someone You Know Has Alzheimer's

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Everyone with AlzheimerÂ?s is different. The saying, "When you've seen one person with Alzheimer's, you've seen ONE person with Alzheimer's" couldn't be more true. However, most caregivers will agree that during the course of the disease, there are similarities and universal challenges that almost all will eventually face.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is today's plague, affecting more than 4.5 million Americans and 15 million people worldwide. There is yet no cure for the disease and the challenges that families and even professionals face, caring for loved ones with the disease, are unimaginable. Yet there are some rays of hope besides the possibility of a cure or vaccine on the horizon.

Everyone with Alzheimer's is different. The saying, "When you've seen one person with Alzheimer's, you've seen ONE person with Alzheimer's" couldn’t be more true. However, most caregivers will agree that during the course of the disease, there are similarities and universal challenges that almost all will eventually face.

Wandering

Statistics indicate that as many as 60% of those with AD will wander at least once during the course of the disease. Once a person begins to wander, the likelihood that they will do it again is very good. Elopement, or wandering away from home, unwilling or unable to return, is a life-threatening situation. If not found within 24 hours, people with dementia, who wander away from home, stand only a 50% chance of survival.

Even before wandering becomes an issue, the problem needs to be addressed and steps taken to discover attempts to leave the safety of home – before the wanderer gets out the door. Once a person, even the frailest of the frail, gets outside, they can easily and quickly disappear.

According to Mark Warner, author of The Complete Guide to Alzheimer'-Proofing Your Home, families would be wise to install motion detectors and door alarms to alert them of such attempts. The best alarms are those which have remote alerts that can be located at the caregiver's side, day and night. "After all," he says, "it's not the person walking out the door that needs to know, it’s the caregiver."

Incontinence

As the disease continues it robs it's victims of dignity and control, potentially affecting every bodily function. Incontinence will eventually become an issue. Many caregivers can be overwhelmed by the odors, soiled chairs and bed, and the amount of towels and laundry that can accumulate

However, once again there are precautions that can be taken. Water-proof mattress covers can protect the bed, while incontinence seat covers can protect the chairs (and automobile seats). Warner also suggests seeing if it is possible to install or locate a washing machine closer to the bedroom or bathroom (where soiled clothes are taken off).

Agitation

Upsets and agitation are common and frequent occurrences with Alzheimer's disease. As the disease progresses, brain cells are lost, making it progressively more difficult for the person to understand and deal with life’s challenges. As such, frustration and consequently upsets, are a natural reaction.

The best way to deal with these disturbances is with diversions. Among the best diversions for a woman with dementia, believe it or not, is a baby doll. Imagine the thrill and delight of being handed a "baby" to hold, even in the midst of something "terrible" taking place. Then add the "blessing" of a shorter attention span that might allow one to shift thoughts more easily. For men there are video tapes, handyman boxes and easy-to-assemble puzzles.

Many More Products and Ideas

These are just a few of the very creative ways caregivers and professionals deal with the difficult challenges which Alzheimer's disease presents.

Mark and Ellen Warner of Jupiter, FL, are the creators of The Alzheimer's Store, which provides products for people with Alzheimer's disease and those caring for them. Here you will find an oasis of ideas on products for wandering, fall prevention, safety, activities of daily living, forgetfulness and much, much more. For more information visit the Alzheimer's Store at http://www.alzstore.com or call 800-752-3238 for a free catalog.

Contact: Ellen Warner

The Alzheimer's Daily News

561.745.0210

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