Alzheimer's: Finding a Cure

Author

FirstLight Home Care

Posted on

Dec 27, 2021

Book/Edition

Colorado - Southern Colorado

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia in the world and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
It is projected that by 2050, the number of people living with the disease will rise to nearly 13 million as baby boomers continue to age and people are living longer overall. In fact, over the past decade, the average life expectancy has dramatically increased around the world. In the 1950s, the average global life expectancy was estimated to be 47 years. As of 2020, the global average life expectancy is 73 years, with the trend expected to grow to 77 years by 2050.
Although the risk of Alzheimers disease increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging or something that should be expected in older people. We still have no cure for Alzheimers and it seems that our progress on developing medications and treatments for the disease has hit a standstill.

Read more about the facts, Alzheimers research, and thedifficult path ahead for finding the cure

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How Dementia Impacts Motor Skills

As we age, we experience many physical, mental and emotional changes. It is common for a senior adult to experience some limited forgetfulness or notice an ache that has recently developed, but in some cases these symptoms may indicate the onset of dementia. There is a growing body of evidence that cognitive issues like dementia exhibit an extended preclinical stage that could begin years or even decades before an official diagnosis. One of the preclinical symptoms of dementia is the onset of issues with motor skills. Regarding balance and coordination, it can be difficult to differentiate between normal age-related changes and the decline of motor skill that may place older adults at an elevated risk for dementia.Once a dementia diagnosis is confirmed, family members will probably become gradually more aware of the changes in the patients cognitive and organizational capabilities. They may also notice their family member is struggling with everyday tasks like dressing themselves or walking without assistance. Loss of stamina and coordination may also point to more extensive brain damage.Exercise Can Help with Dementia and Motor SkillsResearch has shown that regular physical exercise is integral to the health and wellbeing of patients who are living with preclinical or clinical symptoms of dementia. As with any new exercise regimen, any physical exercise must be deemed safe and enjoyable for the patient and inspire feelings of accomplishment. While individuals of any age should ask their doctor for approval before beginning a new exercise routine, it is especially critical for a senior looking to improve motor skills through movement.A physical therapist is an excellent starting point when developing a new exercise routine for those with motor skill impairment. These professionals can help to create an exercise regimen that will boost stamina, flexibility and balance and recommend exercises that will prevent issues associated with falling. If the patient does not have access to a physical therapist, the American Physical Therapy website can provide information regarding any local professionals and resources. Your family members doctor, nurse, or social worker may also be able to provide recommendations as to the right contact.Exercise that is most appropriate for senior citizens may include walking, swimming, dancing, gardening or even light housework. All of these suggestions are affordable and require little to no equipment, but they will go a long way to cultivating feelings of accomplishment and self-worth. These types of activities provide social and cognitive stimulation. Any activity that involves music can intensify and elevate the positive results. (Read more about how music can benefit a wide variety of individuals facing cognitive difficulties.)Any activity that works to improve fine motor skills will benefit the patient. The ability to navigate food packaging, successfully open and close buttons or zippers, or use a spoon and fork gives dementia or early-stage Alzheimers patients the opportunity to maintain their independence for as long as possible. An occupational therapist (OT) can recommend exercises and adaptive gear that will further assist with their home life.Other Ideas to Improve Motor SkillsSome senior adults dont like the thought of exercising, regardless of the potential benefits. However, if you are interested in working with your family member to retain cognitive capability and motor skills as long as possible, here are some additional recommendations to encourage that goal.arts and crafts projectsscrapbooking or working with photoscooking or baking (if safe)painting or drawingcontainer gardeningFind a Residence That Enhances Quality of LifeMy Care Finders is a team of senior care professionals working in the Florida community. We help families to locate the best assisted living, memory care or senior residence solution for their loved ones, by matching desires and budgets with the most highly rated facilities. Call us today to learn more about how our FREE services can benefit your family.

Top 3 Modifiable Risk Factors for Dementia, According to Recent Study

Youll find a long list of dementia risk factors but not all of them are within your control. You cant change your age or genetics. However, many risk factors for dementia are modifiable, making it possible to take steps toward minimizing your risk and protect your brain.The journal, Nature Communications, published research in March of 2024 that revealed the top three out of 15 most harmful but modifiable risk factors for dementia. This information helps you place your focus on lifestyle changes that will most impact your brain health. The three most harmful risk factors are diabetes, traffic-related air pollution, and alcohol, and here is how to minimize associated risks.15 Modifiable Risk Factors for DementiaResearch has already revealed that our brains have a weak spot that develops in later adolescence but also susceptible to earlier degeneration. Its most vulnerable to Alzheimers disease.The question became, how do we prevent this degeneration, this slide into dementia? In the new study, researchers evaluated the brain scans of 40,000 adults in the UK. These participants were ages 44-82. The study hoped to clarify how modifiable risk factors impacted this weaker area of the brain.For research purposes, they divided the modifiable risk factors into 15 categories:CholesterolBlood pressureSmokingWeightInflammationDepressionHearing SocializationSleepPhysical activityDietEducationPollutionDiabetesAlcohol consumptionThe last three on the list, alcohol, diabetes, and pollution proved to have the most devastating influence on cognitive decline.Managing the Top 3 Risk Factors for Cognitive DeclineDementia involves a loss of thinking abilities, including language, memory, and problem-solving. According to the National Institute on Aging, about one-third of people aged 85 and older may have a form of dementia. But the prevalence of the disease doesnt mean its inevitable, especially when you take proactive steps to address these modifiable risk factors. Up to 40 percent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed, which is why lifestyle adjustments are so crucial.Traffic-Related Air PollutionThe burning of gasoline or diesel (fossil fuels) releases nitrogen dioxide into the air, which is a major hazard for your brain. The pollutant indirectly harms your brain, making you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, a known risk factor for dementia. It can also cause inflammation as it directly enters your brain.Of course, you cant completely avoid traffic-related air pollution, but you can reduce your exposure and minimize the risk. When possible, you can stay indoors on high pollution days. Weather apps often provide an air quality index to keep you informed. Additionally, when driving, you can close windows and air vents to keep outdoor air from entering your vehicle. This can lower your exposure to air pollution.Alcohol ConsumptionAlcohol is another major dementia risk factor, specifically if you drink more than 14 servings of alcohol per week. While that might sound like a lot, it is the equivalent of two drinks per day. This level of consumption can cause a notably greater loss of brain mass compared to those who drink fewer than seven servings per week or less than a drink per day. In this case, you can drastically reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake to positively impact your brain health.DiabetesIf you want to drop your risk for developing dementia, its important to address diabetes, either through prevention or reversal. Stick to a healthy eating plan and get regular exercise to push back against diabetes. Doing so can greatly reduce your risk of dementia. Diabetes increases your dementia risk by 73%.Other Dementia Risk Factors to ManageCorrecting hearing loss with a hearing aid and audiologist can reduce your risk of dementia. Hearing loss has a negative impact on brain function, but correcting hearing loss restores brain health and prevents further decline. Hearing loss also causes social isolation and depression, both of which are dementia risk factors themselves. Addressing hearing loss can boost brain function in several ways.You can further reduce your dementia risk through lifelong learning. Your brain likes a challenge, and when you engage in learning new information or skills, it stimulates growth and brain health. It increases cognitive activity and prevents decline through lack of use. This is modifiable, because education for brain health doesnt have to be formal or expensive. You can engage in self-studies, reading that stretches your thinking, or learning a new skill through informal classes. It doesnt mean you have to go back to school or gain a degree.Preventing Dementia By Reducing Risk FactorsWhether you are at risk for dementia through genetics or not, its possible to address lifestyle factors that increase your risk further. The top three modifiable risk factors that you can address are diabetes, air pollution, and alcohol use. You can be proactive by avoiding outdoor air on high-pollution days, limiting alcohol consumption, and preventing or reversing diabetes through diet and exercise. Additionally, correcting hearing loss and continuing to learn as you age can further reduce your dementia risk.TYE Medical offers premium incontinence products in a variety of sizes and absorbency levels. Shop our online store for free and discreet shipping on all orders. 

How to Handle Agitation in Seniors with Dementia

Navigating the journey of dementia can be challenging for seniors and their caregivers alike. One of the most distressing symptoms of dementia is agitation, which can present in many forms and often disrupts daily routines and quality of life. Caregivers can often help seniors manage and decrease agitation, leading to smoother days and easier caregiving responsibilities.Agitation in Seniors with DementiaAgitation is a common symptom associated with dementia, often surfacing as restlessness, nervousness, or irritability. It can be a distressing experience not only for the senior, but also for the caregiver. Understanding agitation and how it manifests in seniors with dementia is the first step toward managing it effectively. Identifying TriggersIn many cases, agitation is not random but triggered by specific events, surroundings, or feelings. Triggers can range from a sudden change in the daily routine to a noisy environment or a complex task. Taking time to observe and identify these triggers is integral in curbing agitation. By recognizing potential triggers, you can take preventative measures or adjust routines to help reduce the onset of agitated behaviors.Calming TechniquesArmed with an understanding of potential triggers, the next step is learning how to use calming techniques when agitation arises. These techniques seek to soothe the individual and restore peace. This might involve using a gentle tone of voice, offering reassurance, or engaging in calming activities like listening to soft music or looking through family photos. It's important to remember that each person is unique, and a technique that works for one individual may not work for another. Patience, empathy, and experimentation are key to finding the most effective calming techniques.Maintaining a Safe EnvironmentSafety is paramount when caring for seniors with dementia. In agitated states, they may become more prone to accidents or wandering. To manage agitation and maintain safety, ensuring the environment is comfortable, familiar, and free of hazards is essential. Soft lighting, removing obstacles, and having a quiet, well-arranged space can significantly impact a senior's perception of their surroundings and positively influence their state of mind.Redirecting and Engaging Seniors During Agitated EpisodesWhen seniors are agitated, redirecting their attention can significantly help diffuse the situation. This involves steering their focus from the source of agitation to a more positive or engaging activity. For instance, if a certain task is causing frustration, suggesting a walk outside or starting a favorite hobby can change the dynamic. Engaging the person in meaningful activities not only diverts attention from the trigger but also maintains a sense of normalcy and routine.Get Alzheimer's and Dementia Care AssistanceCaring for seniors with dementia and managing agitation presents unique challenges. However, understanding agitation, identifying triggers, using calming techniques, ensuring a safe environment, and effectively redirecting and engaging seniors can lead to more harmonious caregiving experiences. Each strategy requires patience, understanding, and elasticity as dementia progresses and changes.Senior Helpers Fort Collins is here to provide support for those living in Fort Collins, Englewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, and Longmont. Our team is equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide quality home healthcare services, Alzheimer's and Dementia Care, and more. Reach out to us today and let us be your trusted partner in meeting the needs of your loved ones with dementia 970-344-9698.

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