The World Health Organization reports that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will increase three-fold by 2050. And according to studies conducted by UCLA 5.5 million Americans currently, suffer from Alzheimer’s. This number is expected to be around 15 million by 2060.

The early detection of Alzheimer’s is of extreme importance and there are a number of warning signs for loved ones to look when interacting with elderly family members. Here are some of the top Alzheimer’s disease signs and symptoms.

Disruptive Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most prevalent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Both short and long-term memory is affected by the effects of short-term memory loss is usually more easily noticed.

Seniors may be observed to forget important dates or appointments, repeating the same questions or information, or increasingly becoming dependent on memory aids or family members to recall things that they once could on their own. This loss of memory can often time become extremely disruptive in the lives of seniors.

Difficulty Performing Common Tasks

Senior family members afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease will often find it difficult, and maybe even impossible to complete routine tasks. An example of this would be a grandmother was known for her cooking prowess being unable to prepare her most enjoyed meal.

Seniors may also have trouble with arriving at locations familiar to them, playing games they enjoy or managing finances.

Placing Things In Odd Places

Discovering car keys in the refrigerator, the remote control in clothes hamper, or regularly finding items that had been missing in strange locations is strong evidence that an elderly family member could be suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

While some may believe that forgetfulness is a simple byproduct of aging, the person with Alzheimer’s does not only forget the whereabouts of possessions occasionally but often leave them in unusual places and are unable to retrace their path to locate them.

Seniors may also become suspicious of others when unable to locate items.

Struggling To Communicate

Visible evidence of diminished ability to communicate is another common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Sufferer’s of Alzheimer’s may often stop talking in mid-sentence and become unable to continue.

Vocabulary can also become problematic and seniors with Alzheimer’s may also struggle in searching for correct words or terms or refer to objects or people with incorrect names, and in some cases invent words that do not exist.

Aimless Wandering

A potentially dangerous warning sign of Alzheimer’s is the tendency for elderly sufferers of the disease to wander off and often become lost. This tendency toward aimless wandering is often exacerbated by the feelings of restlessness, confusion with time, anxiety, and difficulty with recognition of familiar faces that Alzheimer’s patients often experience.

Cases have been reported where individual’s with Alzheimer’s have left the home late at night in response to a need, like using the bathroom, that could easily have been fulfilled in the home. Alzheimer’s sufferers have also been reported to leave ‘for home’ when already present in their homes.

Difficulty With Visual Information

The vision problems experienced by seniors with Alzheimer’s is much different than that of most common age-related visual impairments. With Alzheimer’s there is the inability to gauge distances or determine the color or contrast of an object.

Problems with perception such as observing themselves in a mirror and believing their reflection to be someone else present in the room can also occur with Alzheimer’s.

Actions With No Purpose

Alzheimer’s sufferers will often be seen engaging in pointless activities such as packing and then unpacking belongings, pacing to and fro with no destination, or opening and closing drawers, doors, or windows repeatedly for no reason.

To the onlooker, these activities will have no reason attached to them but experts on the disease believe that these activities are repeated to fulfill a need on the part of the Alzheimer’s sufferer to stay busy or feel productive.

Withdrawal From Social Activities

Loneliness and Isolation are often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and persons with the disease may begin to ignore many of the activities that they need or once loved to do. Many times this is fueled by shame or embarrassment felt by the Alzheimer’s sufferers due to the changes they have experienced with themselves.

Depression

Depression is often a central theme in the lives of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Depression can be a difficult symptom to identify and this is made more difficult for Alzheimer’s sufferers due to impairments with cognitive function.

Senior family members that sleep much more than usual or repeatedly spend entire days watching television while engaging in little or no other activities may be suffering from depression.

Decline In Motor Skills

The proper functioning of fine motor skills is often a casualty to Alzheimer’s disease. This decline in motor skills can manifest itself in ways like struggles with tying shoes, buttoning clothes, or making use of eating utensils.

Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely debilitating for elders and a cause of much sadness to family members. Recognizing the signs of Alzheimer’s is crucial as early detection of the disease affords Alzheimer’s experts like those presently at work at the Maple Wood of Sauk Praire, in Sauk City Wisconsin.

Alzheimer’s Disease. (2017, May 08). Retrieved December 24, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/alzheimers-disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved December 24, 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

diet-to-save-your-memoryOne of the primary fears of older people and caretakers is dementia. For anyone who has already watched a loved one slowly and painfully lose the battle against Alzheimer’s, this worry is even more acute. There isn’t as much good news as everyone would like, but two important studies have shown how important the correct diet can be in saving your memory.

Great Food for Your Brain

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a combination of two heart-healthy diets, the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. While either diet offers a number of health benefits, a special combination of the two appears to be particularly useful in fighting late-onset Alzheimer’s, the form of the disease seen most frequently.

Special diets can be difficult for the cook who may need to prepare two separate meals. One of the great attributes of the delicious MIND diet is that it’s good for everyone. Many treasured family recipes can be adapted by substituting one ingredient for another (olive oil instead of butter, for example).

Start the MIND Diet at Any Age

Unlike some diets, the MIND diet is helpful even if you don’t follow it as rigorously as you should. Starting early and not “cheating” provides the most benefits for delaying dementia, but even a less than perfect adherence to the MIND diet will pay dividends over time.

The participants in the large national Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, had a mean age of 67.8 years. The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study followed 7,000 older women for 10 years.

The results from both studies were enlightening and produced similar results.

What is the MIND Diet?

  • Closely following the MIND diet resulted in a 34%-35% reduction in the likelihood of Alzheimer’s.
  • Moderately following the MIND diet conferred an 18-24% reduction in the likelihood of Alzheimer’s.

The MIND diet isn’t very complicated and doesn’t require you to buy exotic foods. The guidelines are broad enough to accommodate most tastes. A few recipe ideas to spark your creativity can be found here.

Foods to include:

Foods to avoid:

  • Green leafy vegetables: 6 servings per week
  • Other vegetables: 1 or more servings per day
  • Nuts: 5 servings per week
  • Berries (especially blueberries and strawberries): 2 servings per week
  • Beans: 3 servings per week
  • Whole grains: At least 3 servings per day
  • Fish: 1 serving per week
  • Poultry: 2 servings a week
  • Olive oil: Use as your primary cooking/salad oil
  • Wine: 1 glass per day

Why the MIND Diet Works

  • Red meat: Eat less than 4 servings per week
  • Butter or margarine: No more than 1 tablespoon per day
  • Cheese: Less than 1 serving per week
  • Pies, cakes and other sweets: Fewer than 5 servings per week
  • Fast or fried food: Fewer than 1 serving per week

Vitamins C and E: The MIND diet is high in vitamins C and E, which help protect the brain. Plant-based foods contain these and other vitamins which help to preserve memory and cognitive skills. Vitamins C and E also contain antioxidants which offer protection from free radical damage. While these vitamins are helpful individually, a John Hopkins study found C and E protected the brain when used together, lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Vitamin C also helps to remove metals such as aluminum, long believed to contribute to cognitive impairment.

Vitamins B6, B12 and Folic Acid: Green leafy vegetables are abundant in these nutrients which help to improve the brain’s function and reduce brain atrophy and shrinkage.

Vitamin K: Also found primarily in green veggies, it is believed Vitamin K helps to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Berries: Berries are the only fruits that have been shown to improve memory and decrease the loss of neurons. Berries also have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which tackle two of the suspected causes of Alzheimer’s.

The prevention and delay of dementia’s onset with the MIND diet can be significant. When it’s time for professional assistance, Maplewood of Sauk Prairie understands the importance of family and your loved one’s unique needs. For over 40 years, they have been providing high quality care to residents of Sauk City, WI and the surrounding region.

The 3 Phases of Alzheimer’s Disease

alzheimers-disease-careMore than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s. It’s likely that you already know someone who has Alzheimer’s or who is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. It can be frightening to find out that family member is suffering from this disease, but sometimes knowing more about what to expect can help.

Although Alzheimer’s affects all individuals differently, there are generally three stages that people experience. However, your loved one may move through these stages at a different rate, and sometimes the stages overlap. Your loved one may exhibit some symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s and some symptoms of middle-stage Alzheimer’s, for example.

Alzheimer’s disease begins making changes in a person’s brain long before symptoms are apparent. Theses changes can sometimes be detected with brain imaging like fMRI, but you won’t notice any difference in the person’s day to day behaviors. This stage is referred to as “preclinical Alzheimer’s,” and it is not considered one of the three phases since no symptoms are apparent. Preclinical Alzheimer’s can last for several years before changes in the person’s habits or lifestyle become apparent.

Mild or Early-Stage Alzheimer’s
During this first phase of Alzheimer’s, problems may be apparent only to close friends or family members who spend a lot of time with the person. Doctors may also notice memory or concentration problems during detailed interviews. For the most part, however, this phase may be undetectable from a distance.

People with early-stage Alzheimer’s often work, participate in social activities, drive, live alone, and function independently. They may begin to have memory lapses more often than they used to. All people have memory lapses once in a while, like forgetting what day of the week it is and later remembering, or not being able to think of a particular word or object name for a little while. However, people with early-stage Alzheimer’s will begin to have more frequent lapses. They may have more trouble than usual remembering names when meeting new people, often forget things they’ve just read, or have increasing trouble with planning and organizing.

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which can sometimes happen during the early stage, the average person lives four to eight more years. However, this is only an average, and some people live up to 20 more years.

Moderate or Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s
Middle-stage Alzheimer’s is typically the longest phase, and it may last for many years. People in this stage will require gradually increasing levels of care, and will exhibit more serious symptoms. Damage to nerve cells in the brains of people with middle-stage Alzheimer’s may lead to these people acting differently than they used to. They may get frustrated or angry often or stop doing routine things like bathing. They may find it difficult to express their thoughts, which can make them more frustrated.

During this stage, people typically become increasingly forgetful about important events and their own past, get confused, and develop erratic sleeping habits. They may also experience personality changes that require a great deal of patience from caregivers and family members, like becoming moody, suspicious, and compulsive.

Severe or Late-Stage Alzheimer’s
In the final stage of this disease, people may need help with personal care and activities around the clock. They may develop difficulty communicating or experience changes in physical abilities. They may become less able to walk, sit up, or swallow. They often lose awareness of recent experiences and do not respond to their surroundings.

Caring for People with Alzheimer’s
It can be difficult to care for people with Alzheimer’s Disease as they begin to need help more and more frequently. Many families find they are unable to handle the advanced needs of their loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Facilities like Maplewood Sauk Prairie can ease some of the burden with kind, professional, and highly trained staff that will care for your loved ones and allow you to be highly involved in their treatment and daily life. We are happy to speak with you and give tours of our facility, so if you would like to talk about Alzheimer’s care program, give us a call at (608) 643-3383.