Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent health concerns among adults ages 65 and older in the United States. At Atria, the health and wellbeing of residents is our highest priority, and since November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we want to provide a resource for caregivers whose parents may be showing signs of memory loss. Read on for an overview of the distinctions between dementia and Alzheimer’s, how normal signs of aging differ from Alzheimer’s symptoms, and possible treatments for Alzheimer’s.
Normal signs of aging versus symptoms of dementia
The symptoms of dementia are not a normal part of aging. Normal aging might include weakening muscles, stiffening of arteries, and some mild age-related memory changes. For instance, an older adult – or anyone, for that matter – might occasionally misplace car keys, forget to pay a bill, or struggle to find a word. People diagnosed with dementia, however, suffer from sustained problems with communication, memory, and attention. Signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia might include getting lost in their own neighborhood, forgetting the names of their own children, or being unable to complete routine tasks.
Are dementia and Alzheimer’s the same?
Dementia is a not a disease, but a broad term that refers to various conditions of cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – accounting for 60–80% of dementia cases. Other manifestations of dementia include Lewy body dementia, mixed dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and more.
Dementia may also be reversible – tied to underlying causes such as vitamin deficiency, thyroid imbalance, and pressure in the brain. Family history, poor heart health, and traumatic brain injuries increase the risk of developing dementia, though the strongest risk factor is age. The majority of dementia cases afflict people ages 65 and older.
How is Alzheimer’s treated?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Some medications do mitigate anxiety-related symptoms, and some treatments may alter the progression of the disease. In general, physicians may prescribe certain medications that improve cell-to-cell communication networks. As of July 2021, the FDA approved aducanumab (Aduhelm) to treat some cases of Alzheimer’s.
A doctor may also recommend fostering an environment for an Alzheimer’s patient that’s calm, safe, and supportive, and an exercise and nutrition regimen that promotes overall wellbeing. (Specific suggestions may vary between providers.)
Memory care at Atria
At Atria, we believe that despite the difficulties of memory impairment, a person with dementia can continue to live an engaging, joyful, and meaningful life. Our propriety approach to memory care, Life Guidance®, is a specialized service that promotes the health benefits of physical activity, social connection and individualized care. Learn more about all that Life Guidance® offers.
If you or someone you know could benefit from Atria’s forward-thinking, highly personalized memory care, please reach out to the Atria community near you for more information.