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What is Alzheimer’s Disease and its Signs and Symptoms? 

Early intervention and personal care services help seniors remain at home longer 

In a report released annually by the Alzheimer’s Association, it is projected that by 2025, the number of people age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s dementia will reach 7.2 million.

Current statistics from the organization report that 6.5 million older adults currently are living with Alzheimer’s in 2022. These staggering figures represent an 11 percent increase in disease prevalence between 2022 and 2025. For many people reading this article, it is likely that concerns about caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are top-of-mind. 

Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressive brain disease that begins many years before symptoms become apparent. It is classified as a type of dementia. The annual report, Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, presents information in great detail, including topics around disease prevalence, caregiving, healthcare-related issues, and much more. Projecting even further, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that by 2060, 13.8 million adults over the age of 65 will have the disease. Without significant medical breakthroughs, these figures will continue rising, as old age is considered the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s. 

What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-to-80 percent of diagnosed cases. It is thought that incidence of Alzheimer’s could be underreported or misdiagnosed due to muddled symptoms or other factors, including at-risk populations’ potential lack of access to proper medical care and treatment. 

Medical professionals and researchers consider Alzheimer’s disease on a broad continuum of phases, including preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease, and ultimately Alzheimer’s dementia broken down into mild, moderate and severe dementia. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, defining pathological characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease include the accumulation of beta-amyloid (protein plaques) outside neurons and twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles) inside neurons within the brain. Ultimately, neuron death and brain tissue damage results.

Though Alzheimer’s is just one form of dementia among several others including Lewy Body Dementia and Hippocampal sclerosis (HS), initial clinical diagnosis of the disease is based on the presence of various characteristics and symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events (early symptoms)
  • Apathy and depression (early symptoms)
  • Impaired communication abilities, disorientation, confusion, poor judgment, behavioral changes (later symptoms)
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking (late symptoms) 

In an everyday setting with your loved ones, these broad symptoms may take various forms. Most often, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can remain living at home independently – or with support – in the early stages of the disease. Engaging additional support from an in-home personal care agency for seniors will allow your loved one to remain at home as long as possible. Even more, caring services from an in-home provider can help alleviate the pressure of being a sole family care provider. 

Should you notice some of these and think it may be more than just “getting older”, begin conversations with your family’s physicians. You may begin to notice: 

  • Memory loss disrupting daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding spatial relationships and visual images
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality 

When a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia, it can feel frightening and you may not know where to turn for next steps in the journey of caring for your family member. Begin with your physician’s guidance for the best start. When you begin to notice more challenges affecting your loved one’s daily quality of life and safety at home, reach out to ElderCare 4 Families in Louisville and southern Indiana

Our team of professional caregivers provide a variety of in-home, non-medical personal care services personalized to your loved one’s needs. These include: 

Emotional Care Support: Companionship, meaningful activities, conversation

Personal Care Support: Basic grooming, bathing, eating, dressing, walking, toileting

Household Care Support: Cooking and meal prepping, cleaning, laundry, shopping, home safety, pet care

Overall Healthcare & Wellness Needs: Medication management, physician’s appointments, exercising Family owned and operated, ElderCare 4 Families has proudly served our community for more than 40 years. Reach out to us in Louisville at 502-244-8446 or southern Indiana at 812-670-3500 when you’re ready to explore personalized senior care services for your loved one.

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