What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible, disorder of the brain that slowly destroys thinking and memory skills, and eventually the ability to carry out simple tasks. Among older adults, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The disease was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who, in 1906, noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included language problems, memory loss, and unpredictable behavior. Dr Alzheimer examined her brain after she died and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).
These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main elements of Alzheimer’s disease. Another element is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body.
Although treatment can help manage symptoms in certain people, there is no cure for this debilitating disease.
How Does Alzheimer’s Affect the Brain?
We know that Alzheimer’s disease is an illness that changes people’s brain. It causes people to lose the ability to think, remember, and use good judgment. Those with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble taking care of themselves. As the disease progresses over time, we know more help will likely be needed.
Caregivers and Alzheimers
For caregivers, we know that taking care of a person with Alzheimer’s disease can make you feel good because you are providing love and comfort, however, other times, it can feel stressful and overwhelming. Oftentimes, caregivers do not even realize how much they have taken on because many of the changes can happen slowly over a long period of time.
What Are the Behaviors Of People With Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can cause people to act in different and unpredictable ways. Some individuals become anxious or aggressive. Others repeat certain questions or gestures. Many misinterpret what they hear. These types of reactions can lead to misunderstanding, frustration and tension, particularly between the person with dementia and the caregiver. It is important to understand that the person with Alzheimer’s Disease is not trying to be difficult and that all behavior is an attempt at communication.
Tips For Caregivers In Dealing With Loved Ones Who Have Alzheimers
The Alzheimer’s Association® offers some helpful suggestions for responding to dementia related behaviors.
The following three-step approach can help you identify common dementia-related behaviors and their causes.
- Examine the behavior
What was the behavior? Was it harmful? › Did something trigger it? › What happened immediately after? › Could something be causing the person pain? › Could this be related to medications or illness? Consult a physician to be sure.
- Explore potential solutions
Are the person’s needs being met? › Can adapting the surroundings comfort the person? How can you change your reaction or approach?
- Try different responses
Did your new response help? Do you need to explore other potential causes and solutions? If so, what can you do differently?
Why Does My Loved One Do These Negative Behaviors And How Can I Help?
Although it can be frustrating to deal with a loved one with these behaviors- it can be helpful if you try and understand that the purpose of this new behavior is related to their Alzheimers. You shouldn’t take it personally, or think the person is doing the behavior intentionally.
Negative behavior may be related to: Physical pain or discomfort, illness, medication, hunger or thirst. Overstimulation from loud noises or a busy environment. Unfamiliar surroundings such as new places, or the inability to recognize home. Complicated tasks, such as difficulty with activities or chores. Frustrating interactions, such as an inability to communicate effectively which may cause fear, anxiety or sadness.
Once you understand what the person is trying to communicate- you can try and provide them with what they need, and this typically helps stop or lessen the behavior.
We’d Like To Help
We at Unique Home Care services understand that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s alone is difficult without help because we have helped may people in similar situations. We offer live in and per diem private care staff to help you in whatever way works for you and your family. Call us for a free in home consultation at (800) 296-9962.
For more details on How to respond when dementia causes unpredictable behaviors, download the full Alzheimers Association guide here: https://www.alz.org/national/documents/brochure_behaviors.pdf
More information about Alzheimer’s disease can be found here: