Sadly most people have either had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s or know someone who has. And unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing Alzheimer’s Disease. What works for one person may not work for another. That said, several different methods can be effective in helping people with Alzheimer’s live a better quality of life. This article will discuss some of the most popular approaches to managing Alzheimer’s Disease.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Works
In order to understand how to manage Alzheimer’s Disease best, it is vital to first understand a little bit about how the disease works. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that leads to memory loss and a decline in cognitive abilities. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases. Many doctors believe it is due to the buildup of two types of abnormal structures in the brain: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.
Amyloid plaques are clumps of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid that build up between nerve cells. Neurofibrillary tangles are twisted bundles of another protein called tau that builds up inside nerve cells. The accumulation of these abnormal structures ultimately leads to the death of brain cells.
This damage leads to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, which include memory loss, confusion, and difficulty with language and problem-solving. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Here are a few of the most popular approaches to managing Alzheimer’s Disease.
Fortunately for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, several medication options can help manage the disease. For example, cholinesterase inhibitors can improve symptoms such as memory loss and confusion. These medications work by increasing levels of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain essential for memory and cognition.
Other options include memantine, which helps protect nerve cells from damage, and antipsychotic medications, which can help relieve anxiety and agitation. With the help of these medications, many people with Alzheimer’s can maintain their quality of life for longer periods.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy
Another common treatment is cognitive stimulation therapy. This evidence-based approach involves leading patients in structured activities that engage the mind and promote cognitive functioning. For example, cognitive stimulation therapy improves memory, attention, language skills, and executive functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s.
In addition, the positive effects of cognitive stimulation therapy can extend beyond cognitive functioning to include improvements in mood and general well-being. As a result, this treatment can be an essential part of managing Alzheimer’s disease and promoting positive outcomes for patients and caregivers alike.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, patients can become increasingly withdrawn and isolated. However, emerging research suggests that reminiscence work – that is, activities that encourage patients to reminisce about their past experiences – may help to manage Alzheimer’s Disease. For example, in one study, patients who participated in regular reminiscence sessions showed improvements in mood and cognition and were better able to communicate with those around them.
In another study, patients who took part in a reminiscence program showed a slower rate of decline on measures of cognitive function. While more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of reminiscence work, these studies suggest that this approach has the potential to improve the lives of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
At-Home Methods To Manage Symptoms
Oftentimes, the best approach to managing Alzheimer’s disease is a combination of treatments. This means that outside of the doctor’s office, there are things that can be done at home to help manage symptoms. Some great methods you can use at home to help include:
Keep Things Simple
One of the most challenging aspects of the disease is managing the symptoms, which can range from mild memory loss to severe dementia. There are a number of different approaches to managing Alzheimer’s symptoms, but one of the most effective is to keep things simple. This means avoiding complex tasks or situations that might be confusing or overwhelming.
Instead, focus on activities that are familiar and calming. This can help reduce stress and anxiety and make it easier to cope with the disease. In addition, many resources are available to help caregivers create a simplified lifestyle for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
Create A Daily Routine
One of the most important things you can do to help manage Alzheimer’s symptoms is to create a daily routine. Consistency and predictability can help reduce anxiety and confusion and can make it easier to complete activities of daily living. It’s important to keep the routine as simple as possible and allow flexibility when needed. For example, you might start each day by getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, and taking a walk.
As the disease progresses, you may need to adjust the routine to accommodate changing abilities. For instance, you might shorten or eliminate the walk and add in a period of rest in the afternoon. Routines can also be helpful in managing specific symptoms, such as Sun-downing or Wandering.
Use Humor As Much As Possible
Alzheimer’s can be tough to manage, both for the individual and for their loved ones. However, recent research has suggested that humor may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. For example, in one study, patients with Alzheimer’s watched humorous videos and exhibited improved cognitive functioning and reduced anxiety levels.
Laughter has to release endorphins, which can help to lift a person’s mood and improve their overall sense of well-being. Moreover, humor can distract from daily life’s challenges, helping people with Alzheimer’s to focus on the positive. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, using humor as much as possible can help to make the disease more manageable.
Avoid Stressful Situations
Stress can worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to avoid stressful situations when possible. For example, if you’re caring for someone with the disease, take breaks as needed and ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s also important not to over-stimulate the person with Alzheimer’s, as this can lead to anxiety and agitation.
There are a number of ways to reduce stress, including exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time with friends or family. By reducing stress, you can help to make the disease more manageable for both the individual and their caregivers.
Learn To Manage Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition to manage, but several things can be done to help. At-home methods can go a long way in helping to reduce symptoms and make the disease more manageable. However, it’s vital to seek professional help if your loved one is showing signs of severe cognitive decline. With the proper support, you can make the journey easier for both yourself and your loved one.