Alzheimer’s disease ranks among the top 10 causes of death in the United States, and among the top 10, it alone cannot be treated, cured, or slowed. However, for those afflicted, care and comfort is possible, especially with assisted living and a staff to care for any patient. With today’s understanding of this disease, quality of life can be maintained.
According to Alzheimer’s Association, this disease is the most common among types of dementia, and the symptoms develop slowly, then accumulate over time, and can even make everyday activities difficult. Memory loss and difficulty with cognitive abilities are core symptoms of this condition, and the majority of patients are seniors, those 65 and over. On average, a patient can be expected to live around eight more years after the symptoms become clear to others, but based on care, up to 20 years are possible. And due to progressive memory impairment, the patient may not recognize the disease him/herself, instead needing others to diagnose it. Physically, an abnormally rapid development of plaques and tangles in the brain cause Alzheimer’s, beginning with the parts of the brain responsible for memory before spreading from there. Despite these symptoms, long term care for Alzheimers patients is possible.
The Role of Assisted Living
To explore long term care for Alzheimers patients, assisted living is the first step. Assisted living takes place in apartments or communities where elderly residents are somewhat independent in their lifestyle, but may need some help with certain tasks or medical needs. Laundry, transportation, food, or housekeeping and more can rank among a staff member’s responsibilities. In this way, the elderly residents maintain dignity of autonomy to some degree while having quick and reliable access to aid.
Long term care for Alzheimers patients can be done privately, but the services needed for these patients are commonly available at centers for seniors. These patients will need help with mental and physical activities and social interactions alike. According to Mayo Clinic, assistance with physical work can include preventing tripping of falling hazards (rugs and extension cords, for example), installing locks on drawers with sharp utensils or hazardous liquids, and preventing fires all fall under the physical care category.
But Long term care for Alzheimers patients includes the social and mental, as well. A clear and regular daily schedule or routine can soften the impact of memory loss, and accommodating a patient’s slowness of activity is essential. For conversation and social activities, minimizing distractions such as television, radio, and personal computers goes a long way, and above all, a patient will appreciate a sensible amount of autonomy. A patient could be given two choices of clothing for the day, or allowed to choose between two leisure activities or who to visit during the day. Giving clear, one-step directions can minimize confusion and disorientation as well. And above all, each patient is a unique person, and Alzheimer’s care should be tailored to him or her. Activities for Alzheimer residents can reflect personal taste as well.
As a whole, this disease is a considerable medical condition for the elderly, but with proper Alzheimer’s care in the right facilities, senior living can be as comfortable, manageable, and dignified as possible.