Alzheimer’s disease is a very serious form of dementia. People with dementia have memory loss, confusion, diminished thinking skills, difficulty with their language (the ability to clearly communicate their desires or actions), and these skill losses can contribute to physical challenges such as incontinence, over-eating and difficulty doing daily tasks. It is also important to understand that a person with dementia is not stupid it is that their abilities to remember and think are impaired.
This purpose of this website and available Alzheimer DVD is to help you learn how to proceed with helping your loved ones, family member, friend or client who has dementia or a diagnosed case of Alzheimer’s.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease was first recognized as a disease by the German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915), who discovered the physical change in the brain in 1906. The most famous person in the United States who had this disease was President Ronald Reagan.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of nearly 70 diseases that fall into a category known as dementia. Dementia derived from Latin meaning “mind” and “away,” is a term used to indicate a loss or reduction of mental capacity severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. It does not mean or signify stupidity, insanity or retardation.
Dementia refers to a variety of symptoms, but is not a disease in itself. Dementia is considered a “sign” or a “symptom.” Dementia symptoms include memory loss or confusion, a reduction in cognitive abilities, difficulty with language, perception, personality, judgment, coordination and changes in emotion and personality.
There are four major types of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), vascular dementia, which includes Multi-Infarct dementia and Binswanger’s disease, fronto-temporal dementia and diffuse Lewy body dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type of dementia: approximately 50% of people who have dementia are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease combined with vascular dementia accounts for another 20%.
Alzheimer’s First Helping Step
It is important to note that because Alzheimer’s is the common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s America refers primarily to Alzheimer’s disease in this website. The most important first step that any family member can take in understanding Alzheimer’s and helping a family member deal with Alzheimer’s is realizing and admitting to family and neighbors and friends is that your loved on is suffering symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Believe it or not families often will not disclose a diagnosis because of fear of stigma, embarrassment or because they think they are protecting the missing loved one.
It is important to recognize dementia symptoms so that you can help your loved ones. Caregivers need to know the symptoms so they can care for their dementia clients or patients. It is far better to proceed with an assumed diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, than to ignore clear signs and symptoms in order to accommodate a family’s embarrassment. We have an entire section on Wandering because 70% of Alzheimer’s people will wander away from their home. Those families in denial succeed far fewer times search and recovery of their missing loved ones. Do not deny the symptoms.