There are probably numerous questions people have when an elderly family member is diagnosed with some form of dementia. The most thought of form of dementia today is Alzheimer’s, which affects approximately 5.5 million people in the United States (Alzheimer’s Association).
The various signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory loss is the most significant of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It will progressively get worse over time, creating a situation where the senior has difficulty not just taking care of themselves in a safe and healthy manner, but keeping track of conversations, instructions, and where they happen to be at the moment.
There is no cure for this disease.
As a result, there really is no way for memory loss to be stopped. The average life expectancy for somebody diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is between eight and 10 years, upon diagnosis. Most people will begin exhibiting signs of this disease, most notably memory loss that begins to affect daily life, for one to two years before diagnosis. As they move through life with this disease, that memory loss can lead to confusion, anxiety, aggressive behaviors, extensive fear, and much more.
So, memory loss can’t be stopped, but is there anything you can do?
There is some research that indicates mental stimulation early in the disease’s progression may actually pay dividends later on as the disease progresses. Some research highlights the fact that memory loss can be delayed, at least to some degree, for a few weeks, months, or maybe even years with adequate and diligent mental stimulation (Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation).
What is mental stimulation?
This can include doing the crossword puzzle, playing strategic thinking games, writing letters to friends or family members, reading, and much more. Sitting around and watching television programs all day isn’t going to provide any real mental stimulation.
For a long time people assumed there was nothing they can do to make a difference with regard to this disease as it progressed. Now this new research is indicating there are some benefits to staying mentally active, even though that person has been diagnosed with what ultimately boils down to a terminal disease.
With the right care and support on hand, with experienced home care aides working with the elderly client, they may be able to help him or her stay mentally active, mentally stimulated, and help delay the onset of more serious aspects of memory loss in the future.