Most people know Alzheimer’s disease affects the memory. But the symptoms can be physical as well as mental. It can change the way you walk, talk, and how your body works. It’s important to be aware of what can happen as the disease progresses. This will help you stay ahead of the changes you and your loved ones may face.
Alzheimer’s disease is an illness that causes nerve cells in the brain to die. As this happens, a person thinks less clearly and begins to have trouble remembering. Although the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person, it may initially start with a loved one suddenly having trouble finding the right words or exhibiting an impairment in judgment. As the disease progresses, loss of memory and confusion grow worse. Your loved one may have trouble recognizing family members or friends. Tasks that require multiple steps, such as getting dressed or brushing teeth, become impossible to perform. During the later stages of Alzheimer’s, there is typically an inability to communicate. The person becomes totally dependent on others. As the end approaches, they will typically remain in bed most or all the time as the body begins the process of shutting down.
In the study conducted by Baroness Susan Greenfield, an Alzheimer’s expert and researcher, people who walked slowly and had poor balance were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the following 6 years. Some of the changes you might experience are: loss of balance or coordination, stiff muscles, seizures and uncontrollable twitches. Over time, most people with Alzheimer’s lose the ability to take care of themselves. You may need help with basic things such as brushing your teeth, washing your hair and body, and changing your clothes.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease does not automatically mean that your loved one is incapable of taking care of themselves. In fact, it is often beneficial for them to remain in the familiar surroundings of their home. Using a home healthcare aide to sit with your loved one or using other services to fix meals and perform housecleaning duties can help a loved one remain independent. If it’s no longer safe for a loved one to remain home alone, assisted-living communities can provide a feeling of independence, yet keep residents safe under the watchful eye of a caregiver. It’s best to have conversations early on about how you’d like to be cared for. These conversations can be hard, but having a plan can make it easier for you and your family.
Stay up to date on the latest innovations and breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research online. There are many promising studies from the UK in development. Find out more about this kind of research by visiting the NeuroBio website or the finding out more about founder Susan Greenfield here.