Confronting Alzheimer’s Disease

WebMD teamed up with actor Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, founders of Hilarity for Charity,
which raises awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, and journalist and Alzheimer’s advocate, Maria Shriver to
examine people’s beliefs and behaviors about the condition.
It’s part of WebMD’s special report: “Confronting Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Check it out at:
WebMD.com/news

Noticing Signs of Alzheimer’s during the Holidays

During the Christmas season when so many families get together may be the first time you notice a change in your elderly loved one.
Any subtle change in the way a person acts, behaves, or thinks could be an early sign.
Here are some changes that you might notice:
* He/she stood back during the gathering and didn’t have much to say
* Seemed very irritable
* Was confused
* Couldn’t find the bathroom in a family member’s house
If you notice any of these signs or other signs that just don’t seem right, it might be time for you to look into what is happening and
consult with their doctor.

Do You Know the Early Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

How can you tell if you have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?
There can be surprising systems and they don’t all involve memory problems:

* People’s ability to make decisions can be affected by the disease; unable to discern right from wrong
* Frequent falling. If you or someone you love is falling often, tell your doctor.
* Forgetting the function of objects: If you can’t remember where you put your keys, that is one thing- but if you can’t remember what the key is for, that
could be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
* The inability to understand sarcasm. If you consistently don’t “get it” when someone is being sarcastic this could be a sign of atrophy in the brain
* Depression: If someone has never suffered from clinical depression in the course of their lives but develops it later in life this could be a sign of AD.
* Unfocused Staring: Unable to connect with what is happening around you and unable to make decisions. Essentially your brain becomes “unfocused”.

These symptoms may signal Alzheimer’s disease, but they could also be signs of another underlying condition. You should always make note of any of these symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.

Dealing With the Stress of Alzheimer’s Disease

The reality that someone you care about has Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming and may trigger a range of emotions: anger, fear, frustration and sadness. Family conflicts are common as the family struggles to deal with the changes.

To minimize the stress, try dealing with the issues together.
There are many ways that family members can help.
Some may be better at dealing with the financial responsibilities.
Others may feel helpful with doing the household chores and errands.

It is best to communicate as a whole group on a regular basis. If meeting physically is not possible, try sending emails and including all that are involved in your loved ones care.

Be open to compromise and suggestions that other family members may have.
Remember there isn’t any right or wrong way, it is the way that best meets the needs of your family member.
Caring for your loved one and enjoying your time together is most important.

Tips for Communicating with a Person with Alzheimer’s

Here are some communication tips that can help make the day a lot easier for the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s:

* Always approach a person with Alzheimer’s from the front. Do not come up from behind them. It is alarming to them.
* Look directly at the person and make sure you have their attention before speaking to them.
* Do not become frustrated with the person. If they see your frustration, they in turn will become frustrated and you will accomplish nothing.
* Don’t speak to the person like they are a child. Use your normal tone of voice, just like you are speaking to any other person.
* Remember it is the person’s “right now” memory that is gone, don’t use long sentences.
* If you want the person to go with you somewhere, it is easier if you take them by the hand and lead the way. Talk to them as you are walking so they
understand where you are leading them.
* Finally, smile a lot. This makes the Alzheimer’s person feel safe and happy and comfortable. A smile will go a long way to making the day a good one.