Few things are more frightening than the prospect of having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and as our population ages, that prospect becomes more likely for more individuals. If you’re one of those individuals, or just someone interested in learning about Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent place to start from both an informational and support perspective.
The site provides the fundamentals, starting with some definitions. Like trying to understand the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, terms that are often used interchangeably.
Dementia is an umbrella word, encompassing a broad set of symptoms having to do with the decline of memory or other cognitive skills – decline significant enough to impact an individual’s ability to take care of everyday activities. Under the dementia umbrella, Alzheimer’s does account for the majority of dementia cases, anywhere from 60-80 percent. But there’s also post-stroke vascular dementia, and other types of dementia (some reversible) as well.
Specifically, Alzheimer’s is characterized by its being a progressive and irreversible disorder that causes the slow destruction of memory and of thinking skills. Currently incurable, when the disease is in its end stages, those suffering from it are unable to see to even the simplest of tasks, and may even have trouble with functions like swallowing.
The Alzheimer’s Association site has a detailed section specifically aimed at caregivers, with segments on day-to-day help, how to find sources of support, and planning for the future. There are also message boards where different situations are discussed, and advice and experiences shared. An overall excellent resource.
WebMD is also a good source of information for caregivers. This FAQ answers some common questions and will equip caregivers with some good tips, such as handling confusion and how to manage the nutritional needs of someone with Alzheimer.
If there’s any definitional good news, it’s that significant decline in cognition is NOT necessarily a normal aspect of aging.
There’s also treatment good news, as medical strides continue to be made. And as technology – including IoT technology – is deployed in breakthrough ways. Some of the areas being explored include technology to keep track of those with Alzheimer’s with wearable technology. Given that many of those with Alzheimer’s are given to wandering, wearables that could, for example, track the whereabouts of a patient, or alert a caregiver that someone was on the move, would be of tremendous value.
And with IoT there is more to come.