Dealing with Alzheimer’s disease is not an easy thing to do. Those who have Alzheimer’s find daily struggles that affect a lot of their life. Their mental abilities, loss of thinking skills, and poor memory can make them feel scared and isolated.
If you know someone who has Alzheimer’s disease and you find that they are showing cognitive impairment such as memory loss and are feeling depressed, then it is important that you notice the signs as quickly as possible and take action.
This disease process has the potential to creep up on people and can turn from moderate Alzheimer’s disease to severe Alzheimer’s disease if not properly dealt with.
Where You Can Go
If you would like to know more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, you may want to check out the Alzheimer’s Association as well as the Alzheimer’s Society to learn more about early onset Alzheimer’s disease as well as what happens when late onset Alzheimer’s disease occurs so you can be armed with the right knowledge and discuss potential support groups for your family.
Is Dementia the Same as Alzheimer’s?
You may have heard people switch between using dementia and Alzheimer’s when describing the neurological disease, however, it is important to note that dementia is the general term and Alzheimer’s disease is a specific disease that affects the brain.
Someone can develop dementia such as vascular dementia, frontotemporal disorder, and Lewy body dementia, which can come from the development of the Alzheimer’s disease process. It has been said that between 60-80% of dementia sufferers have Alzheimer’s disease already.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who was a neurologist. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder and will cause problems with memory loss, reasoning, and communication, plus it can present itself in physical symptoms like weight loss, sleeping problems, and muscle weakness.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
As previously said, the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are memory loss and a change coming over the person. Someone who has a bad memory or gets tired does not have Alzheimer’s disease, it is more about them aging and feeling those normal effects.
This disease will make them feel anxious more easily as well as get upset and tired quicker. They get confused about any changes and will get lost, plus they have a higher chance of getting depressed.
How the Disease Progresses
As time goes on, and they move from the early stages to the later ones, memory loss gets worse and they are unable to do what they used to do, they easily get confused and will display anger if anyone tried to support them. These Alzheimer’s symptoms can progress into forgetting what people look like and may find it difficult to eat and take care of themselves.
Age alters the brain cells and affects the neurons which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and potentially severe Alzheimer’s as time passes.
How is it Diagnosed?
To get an Alzheimer’s diagnosis they will have to undertake physical and neurological exams and be evaluated. MRI or CT brain scans will be needed too so doctors can rule out things like stroke or tumor. They may also look at family history to see if there is anything there that could flag this issue.
What Mimics Alzheimer’s?
There are some conditions that can mimic Alzheimer’s disease, so they will need to be ruled out first, for instance, depression, urinary tract infections, thyroid conditions, and vitamin deficiencies, are some that will be looked at by medical doctors and psychiatrists. There are key differences that they will take a look at so they get the proper diagnosis.
mental Health & Alzheimer’s Disease
If these other medical conditions are ruled out, and the Alzheimer’s symptoms they have been experiencing are the actual disease, then it can be an incredibly isolating time for them, as they can be aware to a certain extent of what is happening which can bring about anxiety and depression.
Depression and dementia
If someone with Alzheimer’s disease is experiencing depression, then their doctor will investigate this issue and treat depression if it turns out that they are in fact depressed.
Depression and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease can be an extra layer of upset for the individual and their family, so treating depression correctly, so that the person with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease can lead a good and supportive life.
What Else Can Affect Depression?
People with Alzheimer’s disease are always at risk of developing a mental illness like depression as their body and mind are not working the way they should which can be jarring to suddenly deal with.
The fact that it can affect memory and stop people from remembering who a person they love is, can be hard to accept.
Those who suffer may turn to a support group to help them with managing depression, so that both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and their family can get the necessary help.
Other Factors That Can Contribute to Depression –
- Medication side effects
- Social isolation
- Physical illness
- Environmental factors
How Can You Notice Depression in Alzheimer’s Patients?
When a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease gets depressed, it may be hard to know that they are, as the person’s mood may fluctuate a lot which can be hard to know if they are feeling depressed or they are just dealing with a rough day because of their memory problems.
You Will Want to Look Out For –
- Poor sleep quality
- Lack of energy to do anything or go anywhere
- Weight loss and not hungry
- Saying they feel sad and not worth anything
- Getting tearful and angry when they communicate
If this starts to become more apparent and they are having language problems or finding it hard to do basic familiar tasks as well as jumping at loud noises and getting upset when doing their daily routine, now is the time to seek the right treatment for their depression so you can support them in the best way possible with professionals.
Whether that be with medical doctors or alternative therapies.
If your loved one is having problems with depression, then getting them help is essential so that they can go through everyday life one step at a time. You also need to think about your own health too as it can be draining to look after someone who has Alzheimer’s disease by yourself.
Try and keep them to a daily routine that works for them, and make sure it incorporates them going outside for a walk, taking their medications, and doing gentle forms of exercise so they can keep active.
Exercise can help with alleviating depression, so keep them moving and stick to familiar places that they like to be as they can have difficulty finding their way in new areas.
Reduce Noise & A lot of Group Activity
Too many people around can be pretty full-on for them to deal with, and if it is loud it can overload their senses and make them scared. Limit their time with large groups as a person with dementia may start to have a panic attack.
Be as Positive as Possible
It can be hard to face the day when you are with someone who has dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, so being as positive as you possibly can is important.
You can speak to the Alzheimer’s Association about a support group in your area that not only can help your loved one but will be able to support you too.
Dealing with someone whose mental abilities and mental function have diminished is not easy.
You may start to feel anxious and depressed too, so make sure that you are aware of that and support yourself on this journey when helping someone treat depression in themselves.
Alzheimer’s Disease Research
As the years have gone on, research into people with Alzheimer’s disease has grown to see if there are ways to reduce the risk of someone getting the disease.
Whilst it is widely known that there is no way to actually prevent the disease, seeing if the risk can be lessened is an important part of it as well as finding out what other treatment would be best.
Drugs such as Advil, Nuprin, and Indocin, which are anti-inflammatory drugs have been looked into to see if they can reduce the risk.
New drugs specifically for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are still in trials and are out there for people to look at, but there is no definitive drug that can cure everything.
If the depression gets really bad for the individual, then they may be given antidepressants to counteract this response. This is especially true if they have not responded to other forms of therapy given or they are showing signs of severe depression.
Alzheimer’s disease is an awful thing to happen to somebody, and it is never easy to deal with something like this.
It is important to remember that despite the fact that the person’s ability to remember what’s going on or who you are is horrible to witness, they are still the same person underneath all of that and it’s important to remember them as they were.
If you are having a hard time, reach out to people like friends and family or medical professionals so that you are not alone in this and can get the right support.