Alzheimer’s Care

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease was first identified 100 years ago, but it has only been a topic of extensive research for the last 30 years.  Though research has uncovered symptoms, causes, and risk factors, we still do not know what precise changes in the brain trigger the disease.  Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is usually made by an individual’s primary care physician based on medical and family history as well as input from a person close to the individual.  MRI scans can also be used to identify brain changes including strokes or tumors.  It is an irreversible, progressive disease that destroys memories and thinking skills.  Symptoms generally appear after age 60.  Alzheimer’s is the foremost cause of dementia, the loss of cognitive functioning in older people.  Dementia can affect whether a person can live on their own or whether they require help, depending on its severity.

Changes in the Brain

Damage to the brain starts a decade or more prior to symptoms appearing.  Toxic changes are happening before problems even become evident.  The disease acts on neurons in the brain and causes them to lose the ability to function and eventually kills them.  Damage to the brain will spread to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that forms memories.  When the final stage of Alzheimer’s occurs, brain tissue has been significantly destroyed.

alzheimers care

10 Signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  4. Confusion with time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  8. Decreased or poor judgement.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality.

Sad Senior with Headache

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care

Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Preparations

When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a flood of emotions and concerns may overcome you.  You’re going to be worried about the changes they will go through, how to keep them comfortable, and how it will affect you.  Anger, shock, and grief are some of the emotions you may experience.  To aleviate this, you will want to reach out for help and support.

Some important questions to ask include the following:

  • Who will make healthcare and/or financial decisions when the affected no longer can?
  • How will care needs be met?
  • Where will they live?

Many people assume that another close family member or even spouse will be able to take over care.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  As the disease progresses, the person will begin to require more and more help and eventually need 24 hour care.  It is extremely hard for a working adult to meet this need and continue to lead their own life.

Mother, son and daughter-in-law

Develop Everyday Routines

It is important for Alzheimer’s patients to develop routines that give them a sense of consistency.  Especially in challenging times of the day, like evenings, it is necessary to help the person maintain a structure and familiarity with their daily activities.  Things like waking up, eating, bathing, dressing, etc. should occur at the same time and place.  You can also use cues, like turning on a light, to help the loved one associate the cue with an activity.

Plan Visits and Activities

Try to plan activities that are pertinent to the person’s interests.  Question family and friends if you aren’t sure what they would enjoy doing.  Also, look for activities that stimulate the various senses which can help to fight their disintegration.  Being outdoors can be therapeutic and group activities can help your loved one remain social.

Visitors can give patients a break from their normal day.  The key is to make sure they are comfortable with the time and person visiting.  Having too much stimuli during the wrong part of the day can result in an overload for the person.

alzheimers care

Considering Long Term Care

As mentioned before, eventually a person with Alzheimer’s disease will require round-the-clock care.  Unfortunately, most family members are unable to provide this level of care.  Fortunately, there are several options available.

  • In-Home Help – Caregivers can be hired to provide in-home assistance to the patient.  This help vaires depending on what is needed, how much you can afford, and what hours are required.
  • Day Programs – Loved ones can be placed in programs that will supervise them and provide them with activites during the week.
  • Respite Care – Short-term care that provides temporarly relief to a caregiver.

alzheimers care

Quick Facts about Alzheimer’s

  1. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  2. Over 5 Million Americans are living with this disease.
  3. 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
  4. In 2013, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s to American society will total an estimated $203 billion.

2nd Family is a Champion member of AEDA, the Alzheimer’s Early Detection Alliance.



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Baltimore City: Baltimore (21201, 21202, 21205, 21211, 21214, 21216, 21218, 21231, 21251, 21287, 21203, 21233, 21263, 21264, 21265, 21270, 21273, 21274, 21275, 21278, 21279, 21280, 21281, 21283, 21288, 21290, 21297, 21298), Raspeburg (21206), Gwynn Oak (21207), Pikesville (21208), Mt Washington (21209), Roland Park (21210), Govans (21212), Clifton (21213), Arlington (21215), Druid (21217), Dundalk (21222), Franklin (21223), Highlandtown (21224), Brooklyn (21225), Curtis Bay (21226), Halethorpe (21227), Catonsville (21228), Carroll (21229), Morrell Park (21230), Parkville (21234), Nottingham (21236), Rosedale (21237), Northwood (21239)

Howard County: Annapolis Junction (20701), Laurel (20723), Fulton (20759), Savage (20763), Highland (20777), Jessup (20794), Brookeville (20833), Clarksville (21029), Dayton (21036), Ellicott City (21042, 21043, 21041), Columbia (21044, 21045, 21046), Elkridge (21075), Hanover (21076), Marriottsville (21104), Woodstock (21163), Cooksville (21723), Glenelg (21737), Glenwood (21738), Mount Airy (21771), Sykesville (21784), West Friendship (21794), Woodbine (21797), Simpsonville (21150), Lisbon (21765

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Frederick County: Frederick (21701, 21702, 21703), Woodsboro (21798), New Market (21774), Walkersville (21793) Monrovia (21770), Clarksburg (20871), Ijamsville (21754)

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