Mike Gaona-Adams BLA, RRT, CDP, CADDCT, CDCM
Chief Marketing Officer-Genus Patris Hospice
As we begin to look toward the end of the year… Halloween and Thanksgiving Day decorations are already going on display in the stores. Can you believe it?!? 2022 has been for most people, to say the least, a year we will remember, or for some a year they would like to forget. We have been witness to national and global events such as, when as a country, we began to emerge from the grip of COVID-19 (fingers & hearts crossed). However also a year we witnessed the devastations as two sovereign nations went to war. Perhaps more individual personal memories for you will be that 2022 was when you welcomed a child or grandchild into this world, or another taking that first step into adulthood and heading off to college. Memories, good or bad that you may hold on to for a lifetime. But for so many others around the world these types of memories are fleeting at best, and incomprehensible at a certain point related to their struggle and daily journey of living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.
To bring attention and awareness to those who are impacted by this form of memory impairment, September 21st, 2022, was deemed World Alzheimer’s Day. A day to pause and recognize those individuals and their families, as well as the many caregivers, healthcare professionals and researchers who live with or work to improve the lives of those who persevere with this disease.
HISTORY OF ALZHEIMER’S / WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY
- Alzheimer’s Disease was first named in 1901 for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who discovered the disease
- Alzheimer’s Day was first established in 1994 by Alzheimer’s Disease International, the international foundation of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Alzheimer’s Disease, the most predominant form of dementia (50%-75%) is diagnosed every 72 seconds…every 72 seconds! And one in 10 people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with dementia…1 in 10!
Alzheimer’s Disease is progressive and early on can be managed with subtle ques and reminders, but over time will continue to impact a person’s ability to recall not just events, but their ability to complete activites of daily living such as cooking, bathing and other task that allow for independent living (alz.org 2022). As part of the effort to bring awareness to this disease, for which currently there is not a cure, World Alzheimer’s Day was established.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Alzheimer’s Diseases and Dementia is often discounted as a person simply being “senile” or “forgetful”. While there is certainly some general slowing in our responses as we age, significant memory loss is not part of the normal aging process.
Sign & Symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia may include:
- Person starts to forget recent events, people’s names / faces and understanding routine dialogue
- Becomes confused when interacting, managing financial transactions, or operating a motor vehicle
- Personality changes, appearing to no longer care about those around them
- Experience mood swings or labile emotions such as crying or laughing for no reason or out of proportion to the event
As the disease progresses, individuals may:
- Exhibit new or different behaviors, such as nocturnal wondering, or getting lost in their own home or neighborhood
- Inhibition loss and exhibiting of inappropriate behaviors
TREATMENT & SUPPORT
As mentioned, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, but there are treatment and support options available. Medications to help slow the progression of symptoms have shown favorable results in the early stages of the disease process, and clinical trials related to cures and more effective treatments continue. Researchers agree that a breakthrough could happen at any time (Adi 2022). We must keep hope alive.
Treatment options include:
- Medications in the classification of dugs calls cholinesterase inhibitors such as Aricept, Razadyne, Gatalin and others
- NMDA receptor antagonist such as Ebixa, Axurta or Namenda
- Alternative treatment and medication such as vitamins and non-traditional therapeutic modalities
- Anti-anxiety / psychotropic medications to reduce secondary behavioral manifestations
- Structured programming and memory care facilities to enhance cognitive-stimulation and medical / psychosocial management
- Palliative / Hospice Care to enhance support / nursing / spiritual holistic services for the patient and family
SUPPORT & RESOURCES
Alzheimer’s Disease is often referred to as the “long goodbye”, as secondary to any other life limiting conditions, this disease can be hard to endure, not just for the patient but for the family. Witnessing a loved one slowly lose the ability to meaningfully participate and interact over an extended period can be physically and mentally draining. Support, patience, and understanding is so important for the family caregiver. They may not always recognize when they have reached a point where they should ask for help, or when it may be time for additional medical or inpatient interventions, even on a temporary basis. If you, or a friend or family member may be struggling to care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, it’s ok to ask for help. Please know you don’t have to go through this alone. Healthcare options such as assisted living, home-health, hospice, and respite care can provide additional resources and support. Ask your healthcare provider for more information, reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association (Events | Alzheimer’s Association, or contact the organization listed in the sponsoring website.
Every 72 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2022, from https://www.alz.org/national/documents/report_2007factsandfigures.pdf
Adi – About Us. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2022, from https://www.alzint.org/about-us/
Adi – caring for someone with dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2022, from https://www.alzint.org/about/caring-for-someone-with-dementia/