As our loved ones age, it can be difficult to cope with the responsibilities of caring for them and ensuring that they have all the resources they need to remain safe and comfortable. When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that difficulty can feel as though it has been multiplied.
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that often begins slowly and gradually worsens with time. The disease is the primary cause of 60-80 percent of dementia cases. Early symptoms can include difficulty remembering recent events and short-term memory loss. As Alzheimer’s progresses, symptoms range from problems with language, mood swings, disorientation, loss of motivation and behavioral issues. In the final stages of the disease, patients often withdraw from family and friends, and bodily functions are gradually lost. While the prognosis varies from patient to patient, the average life expectancy of an individual with Alzheimer’s usually varies from three to nine years, or can be as long as 20 years in some cases.
The cause of Alzheimer’s has yet to be determined; however, many medical professionals believe it may be genetic. Other potential risk factors include depression, hypertension and a history of head injuries. Alzheimer’s is diagnosed with the aid of cognitive medical imaging, blood tests and brain tissue examination to rule out any symptoms that could be confused with the normal aspects of aging. While there are no medications or supplements that can decrease a person’s Alzheimer’s risk, studies have proven that regular physical and mental exercise can often help.
There are also many resources available to family members caring for Alzheimer’s patients including Infirmary Health’s E.A. Roberts Alzheimer’s Center – the first day center in South Alabama designated specifically for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. The secure, 8,000 square-foot building includes a den, a kitchen, rest areas, screened porches, living room areas, putting greens and enclosed courtyards. Participants can enjoy indoor and outdoor activities, pet therapy, music therapy, horticulture therapy and intergenerational programming. They are also served lunch and snacks in the morning and afternoon with entertainment from various school and business organizations.
Participants at the E.A. Roberts Alzheimer’s Center are also given daily health monitoring, medication administration, supervised personal care, flexible attendance schedules, information and referral services, and even trial visits at no cost to the patient.
Alzheimer’s disease can be a difficult diagnosis to receive; however, with Infirmary Health’s assistance no patient or family member has to cope with this disease alone. For more information on the E.A. Roberts Alzheimer’s Center, visit https://www.infirmaryhealth.org/services/alzheimers.