Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, comprising between 60 to 80 percent of people with dementia. The disease destroys brain cells and symptoms may include confusion, anger, mood swings, language breakdown, cognitive impairment, and short-term and long-term memory loss.
In 2014, more than 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. Older adults make up the majority of people with the disease, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Although many people still believe the memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction that occurs with Alzheimer’s is a normal, expected part of aging, it is not necessarily an “old age” disease.
Many advances have been made in recent years in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia research, making medical providers and dementia specialists better equipped to treat the disease. For more detailed information, read our article An Intro To Alzheimer's Disease.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer's involves specialized services that differ from the care provided in other types of senior housing. In many assisted living or nursing home facilities, this specialized care is delivered in separate areas. Generally, the residents live in semi-private apartments and have structured activities delivered by staff members trained in techniques unique to dementia care. Most of these living environments have secured areas to prevent wandering, a common symptom of the disease. Often, residents have access to outdoor walking paths or gardens which are within secured areas.
There are also stand-alone memory care communities called Alzheimer's special care units or memory care units, better equipped to meet the specialized needs of residents with the disease. These communities have been designed specifically for seniors suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia and often have architectural design features like a circular layout to ensure residents won't encounter a “dead-end” in a hallway. Encountering physical barriers and unknown environments are a potential source of stress for advanced cases of the disease.
What is the best type of care for a loved one with the disease? While each individual’s case has unique features, it’s best to match the care and setting with the patient’s needs. When making a decision, it is important to ask if there is specialized care offered for residents with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
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