What is Alzheimer’s?

The word “Alzheimer’s” gets tossed around a lot, especially for those in the senior living community. It’s not “old-timer’s”, and it’s not the same as dementia. What is Alzheimer’s? Let’s find out more about what Alzheimer’s disease is, its symptoms, and treatment and prognosis.

What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia, which is a broad term that basically means memory problems and cognitive decline significant enough to affect someone’s daily life. Most people with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65. 

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, so it gets worse and symptoms change with time. The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Memory loss. Someone with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s might not be able to remember their phone number, for example, or what they ate for breakfast that day. 
  • Trouble finding words when speaking
  • Getting lost more easily than usual
  • Losing or misplacing things
  • Significant personality changes (like aggression or irritability). 

As it progresses, Alzheimer’s leads to more severe symptoms like:

  • Increased memory loss and general confusion
  • Trouble recognizing people they know
  • Difficulty adapting to new situations or learning new things
  • Problems with reading, writing, and numbers
  • Angry outbursts
  • Trouble thinking logically and performing basic tasks, like getting dressed
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia

What treatments are available?

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments. A new medication called Aducanumab has been successful in removing plaques in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s, which may slow down progression of the disease. There are also medications for memory and dementia and behavioral treatments. These treatments only address the symptoms of the disease. 

Memory Care Neighborhoods, like those at Stellar Living, have specially trained staff who know how to help and manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. They also have safe and carefully designed living spaces, outdoor environments, and activity plans, all created with advanced-stage dementia patients in mind. These neighborhoods are a wonderful choice for people with late-stage or severe Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

Many Senior Living Communities also use cutting-edge research to create programs like Rising Stars that may help slow memory loss and preserve cognitive function for those in earlier stages of Alzheimer’s. The Rising Stars program at Stellar Living includes professional medication administration, behavioral monitoring, management and intervention for the residents, and support for family members. Stellar Living Communities also offer both long-term Continual Care and residence Short Stay Care as needed.

What is the prognosis for patients?

People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s live, on average, 4-8 years after diagnosis, but they can live as long as 20 years. Alzheimer’s actually begins years before there are any symptoms. Early detection is key to getting the best treatment. At this time, late-stage Alzheimer’s patients usually require hospice care as the disease progresses. However, research to find a cure is being done every day. 

Alzheimer’s is a serious and extremely difficult diagnosis. Senior Living Communities can be very helpful for those with Alzheimer’s. Early-stage patients may be able to live in Independent Living communities, where trained staff and access to round-the-clock medical care are still available. Middle-stage Alzheimer’s can be managed very well in Assisted Living communities. The Rising Stars programs available at these communities are there to help every step of the way. Late-stage patients will be best served in Memory Care neighborhoods. Check out this post to find which level of care is best for you. Click here to find a community that meets your needs today.