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The National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer's Disease

Author: Disabled World

Published: 2010-01-10 : (Rev. 2010-06-27)

Synopsis and Key Points:

National Institute on Aging Detailed and Informative Guide to Alzheimers Disease for Family Fiends and Caregivers.

Main Digest

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has produced a Guide related to Alzheimer's Disease, one which is detailed and informative.

At times, people who are there for those who have Alzheimer's may feel that they do not know how to care for someone with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). The feeling is common among caregivers for persons with AD because every day has the potential to bring new forms of challenges. Through efforts to learn about AD, people can understand and cope with the challenges that arise. The Guide presented by the National Institute on Aging helps with the learning process.

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

There are three main stages to Alzheimer's disease. Mild, sometimes referred to as, 'early-stage,' moderate, and severe, sometimes called, 'late-stage.' An understanding of these stages can help people providing care for persons with AD to plan ahead. What follows is a description of each of these stages.

Mild Alzheimer's Disease:Persons with Mild AD often experience some form of memory loss and minor changes in their personality. They might have trouble remembering recent events, or the names of things or of people who are familiar. Persons with mild AD might not be able to balance their checkbook, or solve simple math problems. They may also begin to slowly lose their ability to organize and plan, such as making a grocery list, or finding things in a store.

Moderate Alzheimer's Disease: Persons with Moderate AD experience confusion and memory loss that is more obvious. They have increasing trouble with planning, organizing, and following instructions. Persons with moderate AD might require assistance with getting dressed and could experience issues with incontinence. They may have trouble recognizing family members or friends, and might not know what day or year it is, or where they are. Persons with moderate AD could also start to wander, lacking judgment, and should not be left alone. They could become restless, repeating certain movements, and experience difficulties with sleeping. Changes in the person's personality may become more serious; they might make threats, curse, hit, kick, scream, bite, grab things, or accuse others of stealing items.

Severe Alzheimer's Disease: Severe AD is the final stage of the disease, ending in the death of the person. Persons with severe AD many times require the assistance of others with all of their daily needs. They might not be able to either sit up or walk without assistance. The person may be unable to speak, and many times is unable to recognize family members. Persons with severe AD might also experience difficulty with swallowing and refuse to eat.

There are some different ways family members, friends, caregivers and others can learn more about Alzheimer's disease. These ways include:

Try to find a support group for caregivers.
Use search engines to find more information.
Go to educational programs and workshops on AD.
Talk with a doctor or other health care provider about AD.
Ask your doctor to refer you to someone who specializes in AD.
Talk about AD with friends and family to get advice and support.
Check out books, CDs, DVDs, or videos on AD from the library.
Ask your doctor or AD specialist about good sources of information.
Visit websites on AD such as www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers or www.alz.org.
The Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org) is a good resource to help find support groups.

The NIA's Guide on Alzheimer's Disease

The Guide on Alzheimer's Disease, presented through the National Institute on Aging website, is for family members and others. Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is an illness that causes changes in a person's brain, causing people to lose the ability to think, remember, and use proper judgment. Persons with AD might have difficulties with providing care for themselves, or performing basic tasks such as bathing, dressing, or preparing meals. As time progresses the disease worsens, requiring persons who care for people with AD to provide more assistance.

Taking care of a person with AD can lead to positive feelings due to the facts that the person providing care is providing both comfort and love. At other times, providing care may seem overwhelming. The person providing care might witness changes in the person with AD that are difficult to understand, with every day presenting new challenges. Caregivers can find themselves dealing with problem behaviors, or simply attempting to get through the day. Caregivers can find that they do not even realize how much they have taken on because changes can happen slowly, as well as over an extended period of time.

The Guide on Alzheimer's Disease can help people providing care for those they care about with AD to learn and cope with challenges and changes. The Guide informs caregivers on a variety of subjects, such as how to:

Plan for the future.
Take care of yourself.
Learn more about AD.
Get help with caregiving.
Cope with late-stage AD.
Help family and friends understand AD.
Learn how to cope with these changes.
Understand how AD changes a person.
Make your home safe for the person with AD.
Choose a full-time care facility for the person with AD if needed.
Manage everyday activities like eating, bathing, dressing, and grooming.
Learn about common behavior and medical problems of people with AD and some medicines that may help.
Find out about helpful resources, such as websites, support groups, government agencies, and adult day care programs.

The NIA's Guide on Alzheimer's Disease contains a wealth of information; people reading it should not feel obliged to read it all at once. The Guide is available online through the NIA website, and contains sections that can be referred to as needed. The Guide contains a Table of Contents, a Medicine Chart, and a, 'Words to Know,' section as well. The Words to Know section contains definitions of medical words and how to say them.

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