Reaching retirement age can bring many benefits, namely a low-stress lifestyle with plenty of time to enjoy hobbies and social activities. However, certain conditions tend to be more common in older folks.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are two conditions many older people must face — or at least stay up-to-date about. The first step to educating yourself about Alzheimer’s and dementia is knowing their differences and similarities.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for different types of mental decline. Dementia can look unique for each person who experiences it, but some of the most common symptoms are disorientation, memory issues, and declines in critical thinking or reasoning skills.
Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells, which can occur due to several factors. Some people can experience mixed dementia when multiple forms of the condition happen simultaneously.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Unlike dementia, Alzheimer’s is not an umbrella term. Instead, it is a specific type of degenerative mental condition. Alzheimer’s develops when the brain changes in complex ways after brain cells have been damaged, and this condition is known to worsen over time.
Alzheimer’s affects new memories in its early stages and then begins to tarnish older memories as it develops. Alzheimer’s is known as one of the most common causes of dementia. While dementia can be linked to many different symptoms in its early stages, short-term memory loss is the most common indicator of developing Alzheimer’s.
How to Support a Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
If your loved one is experiencing early symptoms of mental decline, there are many ways to support and make this process as smooth as possible. And by taking the proper action, your loved one could even slow the progression of their dementia or Alzheimer’s and maintain independent living for longer.
Keep Your Loved One Engaged
Regarding degenerative mental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, isolation can make the symptoms harder to bear and potentially even worse. One of the most critical ways family members can help their loved one experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s is by keeping them engaged and connected with those around them.
The key to supporting your family member is having patience, as they may not be interested in or able to do the same activities as before. However, something as simple as enjoying a meal together, listening to music, or playing a board game could improve your loved one’s health through mental and social stimulation.
Look into Resources for Caregivers and Advocates
When a loved one goes through the stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, they need more support and care than they used to. However, caregiving itself can be a stressful and exhausting responsibility, even if you’re happy to do it for the sake of your family member. That’s why seeking support for yourself as a caregiver is essential.
There are so many resources caregivers can take advantage of to make their jobs easier. Many family caregivers are stepping into this role for the first time, so having questions and needing support is expected. Additionally, it’s essential to make sure you keep up your own self-care routines. Your mental and physical health need to be strong to provide the best support possible to your loved one.
Research Memory Care Near You
Many older adults facing dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis can continue living independently for a while, especially if they keep up a healthy lifestyle and make an effort to slow the progression. However, there comes a time when everyone in this situation will require a memory care community.
Memory care takes place in designated neighborhoods within a retirement community. Here, trained and experienced professional caregivers give folks experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s a safe place to enjoy their golden years.
Your loved one will be kept secure and well cared for with consistent supervision. They’ll also have plenty of social activities to take part in and hobbies to enjoy.
An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can cause anxiety in individuals and their loved ones. However, there is still so much life to be lived after diagnosis, and there are many ways for folks experiencing these conditions to enjoy their retirement years.