Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and all-too-pervasive illness that occurs in the brain for over 5 million Americans. Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. There is currently no cure, and the damage is irreversible. It’s a progressive disease, so it only gets worse over time. November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so we want to share a few basic facts about the disease, good resources for information, as well as some home safety measures that can specifically help households that include a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms and Stages
Like the rest of our bodies, our brains change with age. Having trouble remembering certain things from time to time, especially as you get older is natural. However, Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural part of aging.
Here are some early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Poor judgement or decision making
- Serious trouble remembering new information
- Inability to manage a budget
- Losing track of the date, day, or season
- Difficulty sustaining and holding a conversation
- Misplacing things and being entirely unable to retrace steps to find them
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Changes in mood or personality
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- New problems with words or speaking
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
Alzheimer’s progression is usually ordered into three stages.
In early stages, a person can still function independently. They may run into trouble remembering recently acquired information. A family member might observe them taking more time remembering certain words or names. They might lose valuable items or have trouble organizing their surroundings and their day.
The moderate stage of alzheimer’s is usually the longest stage of the disease. This can last many years; as it progresses through this stage, the person will need higher and higher levels of care. In this stage, memory continues to degrade from everyday objects to personal history and events. These struggles with daily functioning and memory loss commonly lead to an irritated disposition that can lead them to be withdrawn or moody. They may need help remembering details about the date and season, and they may need assistance choosing appropriate clothing for the season or an occasion. Personality and behavior changes may be noticed, including delusions or compulsions.
The latest stage of Alzheimer’s disease is when patients need around-the-clock care. They are no longer able to function on their own. They lose physical function like walking, sitting up, and, eventually, swallowing. At this stage, they are also increasingly vulnerable to other infections.
Safety and Security
If you have someone in your house with Alzheimer’s disease, you know that it can be worrisome when leaving them home alone—even if it’s just for a few minutes, a few moments, a few hours. We are home security experts, so the best information and advice we can offer is always in our own category. There is so much that goes into caring for something who has Alzheimer’s, and finding peace of mind is never easy. We know that every little tool helps.
Here are a few home security and home automation tools that you can use to your advantage when living with someone who has Alzheimer’s:
- With a SMARTConnect app (or similar smartphone app), you can get notifications every time the front door is opened, so you’ll know if they are leaving the house.
- If you install a Yale Door Lock, you can double check that the doors were locked after you left the house or after they left the house. If you see that it’s not locked, you can lock it remotely from your phone.
- Be the first to be notified if an intruder sets off your alarms. If there is trouble, authorities can be alerted as soon as possible.
- With a security camera, you can livestream the feed from your phone so that you can have eyes in the house no matter how far away you are.
- If they drive, you can install a vehicle GPS tracker that keeps track of where they are and how fast they are going.
What You Can Do
Find more information on The Alzheimer’s Association’s page here at http://www.alz.org/.
Donate, spread awareness, and volunteer. Use your efforts and resources this month to support those with Alzheimer’s, those caring for them, and those working towards further understanding and towards a cure for the disease.