Just what is Alzheimer’s? What can we do once we get the diagnosis to prepare for future care needs?
Also known as senile dementia of the Alzheimers type (SDAT), simply put, is a progressive degenerative brain disorder. It is the most common form of dementia.
Although Alzheimer's dementia disease is not a part of normal aging, the risk of developing this disorder increases with age. About 5 percent of aging seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 have Alzheimer's disease. Nearly half the people over the age of 85 have one of the stages of Alzheimer's.
This disease, over time, robs an individual of their memory, their capability to learn, ability to make judgments, to communicate, and to perform tasks of daily living. In the last stages of the disease, an individual becomes totally dependent on others for their care.
What is Alzheimers Disease?
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is presently based on a person’s medical history and a neurological examination. It cannot be diagnosed accurately until after death. Then an examination of the brain will show the plaques and tangles of the brain. This is not a test that can be done while a person is still living.
Because this is a progressive disease, there have been seven stages or levels of functioning that you can expect to occur. When you or a family member receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s it is important to start to become familiar with the disease process and develop a future plan of care.
A future plan of care is important because this disease progression can vary and a person can live as long as twenty years and as few as three after the diagnosis is made.
What is Alzheimers Disease and the caregivers role
Every caregiver begins this journey with the best of intentions. When you start this journey, you have no idea what you are agreeing to do, how long this journey will take or what the job will entail along the way. This is a journey that is going to get progressively difficult and could last for many, many years. Family caregivers experience a range of emotions, the most prominent one being chronic grief.
I have developed this section on my site to give you a road map, for you and the family caregiver to assist you on your journey. Understand that you are not alone. I hope you will use this website, the information here and the support to help you along your care giving journey.