Dementia Care, Alzheimer's

'Know dementia, know Alzheimer's' this Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Posted 4th September 2021

‘Alzheimer’s’ is a term many people know, but unfortunately, unless you have lived through it, many still misunderstand the extent of the disease, what it means for a sufferer and how much it will affect the people around them. 

This month marks World Alzheimer's Month, created by The Alzheimer’s Society as a global opportunity to raise awareness for the disease as well as to educate, encourage support of and demystify dementia. It is also an opportunity to send a message, to communicate that if we all develop our understanding as individuals and organisations we can overcome many of the uncertainties faced and help maintain quality of life for people with dementia.

The theme for this year's 2021 campaign is 'Know dementia, know Alzheimer's'. Dementia is the name for any problems affecting  mental abilities which are caused by gradual damage in the brain, and it is more commonly known to people than Alzheimer’s. As part of the month-long awareness campaign, World Alzheimer's Day takes place on 21st September 2021 and hopes to build the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.
Across the world, dementia remains one of the biggest health challenges we face. More than 520,000 people in the UK have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease,  with numbers set to increase in the future.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Understanding Alzheimer’s disease means understanding how our brain works. Our brains are made up of billions of nerve cells which are all connected. As the most common cause of dementia,  Alzheimer's disease is developed when these connections are lost due to a build up of proteins, which causes abnormalities in their structures when they build up. These are medically known as ‘plaques' and ‘tangles’ which unfortunately, leads to nerve cells dying and the loss of brain tissue. 
The brain is also made up of chemicals which enables the transfer of signals to cells. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s will have a decreased amount of these chemicals meaning signal messages won’t function as they should.
Developing slowly and gradually worsening, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with sufferers' symptoms becoming more severe as more parts of the brain become damaged.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
As a progressive disease, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and the rate that they spread will be different for each individual. The stages of Alzheimer’s are split into three stages: early symptoms, middle stage symptoms and later symptoms.
Early stages will include behaviours such as misplacing items, forgetting names of places and objects, repetitiveness, forgetting words and being more hesitant around new things and change. Mood changes such as confusion, anxiety, aggression and agitation are also traits that become apparent.
In the middle stages, symptoms aligned with memory will become worse, with increased confusion and disorientation such as not knowing which day it is or getting lost. The sufferer is also prone to adopting obsessive, repetitive and impulsive behaviours as well as experiencing delusions or becoming paranoid about the people around them.  Mood swings will worsen and also speech and sleep patterns can be disturbed. It is by this stage that someone with Alzheimer’s disease may need  support to carry out everyday  tasks.
Later stages will see the symptoms mentioned previously become more severe which can be distressing for the sufferer and the people around them. Hallucinations and problems with short and long term memory loss might make the sufferer more suspicious of the people around them. The sufferer may also have difficulty eating and swallowing and struggle with their movement, weight loss and urinary or bowel incontinence, They may also experience loss of speech and will generally need full-time care.
What can be done to help someone with Alzheimer’s?
As the cause for Alzheimer’s disease is still not fully understood, when caring for an elderly relative it is important to be mindful of the symptoms. At present, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medical treatments available that can ease symptoms. With continuing research and a building understanding in the disease, there is also a lot that can be done to help a person with Alzheimer’s to live well.

Offering support and companionship

When caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, support and companionship can make a remarkable difference to their quality of life, both physically and mentally. Maintaining a level of independence and socialisation can bring a wealth of benefits and stimulation to their lifestyle, by encouraging them to remain alert and active. 

It goes without saying that the level of care will need to increase over time, especially as the disease progresses and daily activities or tasks may not be able to be carried out safely. A live-in carer can ensure the safety of your loved one, providing comfort and companionship whilst also making it possible for them to stay in the familiar setting of their own home. Knowing that your loved one is being cared for and has company can really help to relieve the pressure on you and your family if visiting becomes difficult. You can get in touch with us today to find out more about the benefits of live-in care.

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