"As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the need to nurture, love and be loved increases." American Assoc Geriatric Psychiatrists
Many health professionals working with Alzheimer's patients assure that therapeutic activities should focus mainly on the person's interests before the disease, as well as stimulate both older and more recent memories, while highlighting the patient's remaining abilities and make their compromised abilities easier to manage.
Each activity will affect individual patient's differently; not all activities will have a positive effect on every patient.
Examples of therapeutic activities proven through various research studies to improve and reduce behavorial problems in people with Alzheimer's include playing their favorite music, one-on-one interactions, playing videos of of family members, going for walks, and spending time with a special pet.
Memorable Pets enriches these fragile moments spent with loved ones with Alzheimer's by providing plush cats and dogs that help relax and soothe Alzheimer's patients, as well as give them an extra sense of comfort and security.
In the sixth part of their series documenting and reporting the challenges of dementia and Alzheimer's personally faced by families, Observer Reporter looks at the life of Rudy Keron, age 74, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's seven years ago. In Rudy's case the disease progressed rapidly, and he soon lacked the ability to speak, brush his teeth, or recognize family members.
For five of these seven years post-diagnosis, Keron's wife Judy, took care of him herself in their home in Washington before finally deciding to move him to the Washington County Health Center in 2012.
"'I was in denial when we got the diagnosis,' said Judy. 'I took Rudy to Pittsburgh for additional tests at Allegheny General Hospital and had CAT scans sent to them, but the doctors said the prognosis was right. But you grasp at straws, you look for any other explanation that you can.'" (source)
Four of Rudy Keron's sisters also died as a result of Alzheimer's, however Judy Keron relayed that, despite this, they had never had a discussion about the disease in the 32 years they had known one another.
Rudy now hardly speaks, but carries a stuffed animal around with him frequently for comfort. He was once a combat photographer in Vietnam, and loved music, woodworking, and drawing.
His wife Judy knew nothing of Alzheimer's before her husband's diagnosis, and continues to read pamphlets and scour the internet for any information she can find on the disease, but is very careful about misleading material that can often become disheartening. "'Sometimes it gives a sense of hope, and that's the worst thing, for them to make you think it can get better. It's not going to get better for him.'"
With the very recent passing of Tom Magliozzi on November 3rd, one of the hosts of NPR's "Car Talk", due to complications of Alzheimer's, recent reports are quick to try and explain just how Alzheimer's disease causes death.
Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease in which deposits of abnormal proteins build up on the brain and cause brain cells to die. However, Dr. Marc L. Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York, says that "Alzheimer's disease is not usually a direct cause of brain death — that is, it does not suddenly cause the entire brain to cease functioning. Most often, the complications of the debilitating disease are what cause the death of Alzheimer's patients." (source)
These complications include infections, bedsores, and aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when Alzheimer's patients (who often have difficulty swallowing) inhale food. Pneumonia is responsible for nearly two thirds of the deaths of patients with dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society.
Though the CDC reported in 2010 that approximately 85,000 people in U.S. died from Alzheimer's disease, a recent study shows those numbers may be up to six times higher, due to many death certificates not listing Alzheimer's as an underlying cause of death.
Actor and filmmaker James Keach has taken up the reins in directing a documentary of the country-music legend's life as he perseveres and adjusts to the later stages of Alzheimer's—all while still playing complex guitar chords and pouring his soul as best he can into each melody.
Glen Campbell faces these trials with commendable resolve and a sense of humor that inspired Keach. The film covers Campbell's 2011-2012 "Goodbye Tour", in which he played 151 shows across the globe, but also the personal aspects of his day-to-day life with the deteriorating disease.
"The film doesn't flinch from the harsh realities of Alzheimer's, showing Campbell losing his temper at times with loved ones and frequently falling back on the jovial manner that made him an engaging star of "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" variety series that ran on CBS from 1969-71." (LA Times)
The film ends with Glen's last recording session, in 2013, featuring a new song which powerfully displays his love for the people who have been there for him, entitled "I'm Not Gonna Miss You".
It isn't hard to imagine that taking care of a loved one as a caregiver can be an emotionally, mentally, and psychically draining responsibility. May caregivers feel depressed and isolated and have more or less put their lives on hold to care for their loved one. Yet time and life are not only passing for the person being taken of, but for the caregiver as well, so it is crucial that caregivers learn to care for themselves and maintain their one physical and emotional health. Making caregiving schedules in advance, like managing medicine times and doses, taking respites from caregiving, and maintaining or rekindling social activities and personal hobbies can be difficult, but will ultimately help caregivers in reminding them of what makes them their own person apart from helping a loved one, and aid them in relieving the stress involved in the tasks they've compassionately and responsibly chosen to undertake.
The article below details the steps a caregiver can take to improve the quality of their caregiving by first improving the quality of their own life.
A survey conducted by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) found that eight of ten people rate choosing to care for an elderly relative as one of the most stressful life experiences, above divorce or separation from a partner, buying a house, or getting married.
Much of the reason for this stress apparently comes from caregivers or loved ones having to sift through lacking or poor information regarding care facilities that they aren't sure that they can fully trust. When dealing with dementia especially, many family members struggle with finding the best and most viable care options, and want to make sure their loved one is protected, nurtured, and treated properly.
New data released by the NFL on Friday suggests that roughly 30% of former players will develop Alzheimer's or some form of dementia over their lifetime; a much higher percentage in comparison to the general population.
This information was calculated with regards to the NFL's ongoing concussion lawsuit, and an actuarial firm commissioned by the players. The analysis projects that an estimated 14% of former NFL players will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, with another 14% likely to develop moderate dementia.
In addition, the data perceived that former players are run twice the risk (compared with the general public) to develop early-onset Alzheimer's, dementia, ALS, or Parkinson's disease.