Peninsula Home Care Takes Education and Lifestyle Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease
SALISBURY, MD – No two people experience the disease the same way and no single test can diagnose it. Alzheimer’s Disease – a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Even though it is the most common type of dementia and more than 5 million Americans are living with it, there are many misconceptions and a sense of shame associated with the disease. World Alzheimer’s Month in September was launched to raise awareness about dementia and focus on educating and challenging the stigma associated with the disease.
“Dementia has a negative stigma because people do not truly understand how to manage or cope with someone with cognitive deficits,” said Karen Musengwa, Peninsula Home Care speech therapist and certified dementia practitioner. “Often times when someone has dementia the thought is ‘they have dementia and there is nothing that can be done.’ This is due to lack of information, decreased caregiver time, energy and resources as well as decreased patience and creativity. All of these things are important when caring for someone that has dementia.”
“When we care for a patient with dementia, our team focuses on the individual’s abilities rather than deficits,” said Barbara Murray, Maryland branch director, Peninsula Home Care. “They will experience many successes and positive outcomes that provide a sense of relief to the individual and their caregiver.” “They still have a sense of self,” added Karen. “When deficits are the primary focus, it promotes a mentality of failure and hopelessness.”
Many still think dementia is caused by normal ageing. Here’s the difference. The rate at which brain cells die for individuals with dementia is much more rapid and steady than the normal ageing process.
Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Losing track of the date or the season
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
Typical Age-Related Change
- Occasionally needing help recording a TV show
- Missing a monthly payment
- Needing a reminder on how to use the microwave
- Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out
- Vision changes related to cataracts
- Sometimes having trouble finding the right word
- Losing things from time to time
- Making mistakes like forgetting to change the oil in the car
- Feeling uninterested in family or social obligations every once in awhile
- Developing specific ways of completing tasks and getting upset when a routine is disrupted
The Good News
Eating a diet rich in whole foods – not processed, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and having a positive social circle can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
“It is important to develop these habits early on in your 30’s and 40’s because the damage in the brain occurs 15 to 20 years before individuals first seek medical attention,” said Karen.