Caring for a Senior Citizen with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia, is one of several health conditions that elderly Americans may face later in life, and while no proper cure or preventative measure for it truly exists, there are ways to delay its onset or slow down its progression, and even when an senior citizen suffers Alzheimer’s, the good news is that practical and well established ways exist to help them cope and minimize inconveniences or difficulties in everyday life. Often, someone with Alzheimer’s may continue living in his or her residential home, and may have nurses and younger family members provide assistance for living in the home every day. Otherwise, an Alzheimers patient may be transferred to a nursing home and get around the clock treatment from medical staff. Whether at a residential home or care facility, a senior citizen with Alzheimer’s has support on hand.
Rates of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and it stands as the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be cured, or prevented. Nearly two thirds of its patients are women, and this disease represents anywhere from 60% to 80% of all dementia diagnoses, out of over 100. Around the world, some 35.6 million people have one form of dementia or another, meaning there are also many Alzheimer’s patients. In the United States alone, the population of Alzheimer’s patients is around 5 million, and by the year 2050, it may reach 16 million. However, there are still ways to cope with this affliction.
Care in the Home and Memory Care
Although Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, some low-cost methods have proved effective, in general, at slowing this disease’s progression. Most of them involve mental stimulation, anything from a robust social life (especially in a nursing home) and logic challenges such as jigsaw puzzles. In anyone, young or old, puzzle work can enhance and exercise a person’s memory and coordination skills, and this can even reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. For those who already suffer Alzheimer’s, doing puzzles and having a good social life can act as a minor bulwark against the disease’s effects, but one should be clear that this is not truly a preventative measure.
A home can be made safe for an Alzheimer’s patient, since memory loss and physical clumsiness are central symptoms of this condition. Tripping hazards such as electrical cords, rugs, and thick carpets should be removed or otherwise handled, and tidying up the home and creating a lot of open space helps. Dangerous objects such as knives, scissors, lighters, and others should also be either removed or locked in a cupboard so self-injury cannot occur. What is more, items should always be placed in a logical and clear pattern and should be put back consistently; consistency helps mitigate the worst effects of memory loss. Assistance from nurses and family members, meanwhile, can involve chore assistance such as grocery shopping, vacuuming, doing dishes, garden or lawn maintenance, and any repair job. And whenever the elderly patient goes out for walks or minor errands, he or she should have an identification badge with a name, address, and contact information of the support staff in case the patient gets lost or is hurt and unable to make it back to the home.
Nursing homes can also provide memory care and other functions for an Alzheimer’s patient. This may be the best option if the patient’s home is too far away from other people to conveniently visit, such as a rural home, and a nursing home can provide around the clock medical care if needed. This may be the only viable option if the patient may suffer a life threatening condition or injury at any moment, and a nursing home provides other perks such as a community for providing friendship and mental stimulation, and a nursing home may be located much closer to the patient’s family, making visits easier.