This month, as you’re finding reasons to give thanks, perhaps you may want to include an extra dose of gratitude and support for all those who courageously face Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with strength and optimism. November is AD awareness month, and as such, November offers a great reminder that this disease is real, extremely challenging and affects many of our loved ones. It’s important to understand the conditions, know the early signs and be familiar with treatment options.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
AD is the most common form of dementia, a significant reduction in mental processes, and with no known cure, it worsens as it progresses. Depending on the individual, AD develops differently and early symptoms are often overlooked and attributed to age-related issues, or stress. Unique to each individual is the intensity of onset, and the time it takes to become fully apparent. Whether it is yourself, or a loved one, here are some signs you should watch out for:

•  difficult remembering recent events
•  increased confusion, irritability and/or aggression
•  mood swings
•  trouble with language
•  long-term memory loss
•  uncharacteristic introversion

Patterns have been found linking possible prevention with intellectual activities, regular social interaction, healthy diet, and cardiovascular activities, however, currently there is no cure for AD, nor is there any definitive evidence reinforcing specific measures or treatments in preventing AD. When those affected by AD, both caregiver, patient and professional, were asked the most effective response to a diagnosis, the unequivocal answer is to respond with love and openness. As difficult as it may seem to do, embracing AD with love, patience, real expectations, and even humor has been one of the most proven tactics when living with AD. Some real-life tips living with and managing AD are as follows:

•  Caregivers need to take time for themselves, to unwind and relax, to better help those they love. Caregivers need somebody they can talk to and counsel with. Caregivers also need to educate themselves as much as possible. Understanding nurtures patience.
•  Simple daily activities planned with structure, meaning, and a sense of accomplishment builds confidence and can have a very satisfying effect when living with AD. As a caregiver, try to set up an environment where as many activities can be independently accomplished as possible.
•  Do things you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in accomplishing these things. Frustration, depression, and anger are only compounded when the effects of AD are allowed to take away the things you love.

Know what to expect, and plan for it. You’re going to have trouble remembering things. Try to incorporate simple reminders independent of caregiver assistance:

•  Keep a book with important numbers, names, addresses, ideas, appointments, etc.
•  Place notes and signs around the house to help you remember and find things
•  Label pictures of loved ones with names so you can remember those who visit often
•  Write down things you enjoy and plans to do them
•  Always take directions for where you’re going
•  Learn what local transportation services are available for you by contacting the Alzheimer’s Association.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Alzheimers Disease, there is help available. If you are suffering from non-Alzheimer memory loss, there may be treatment options available to you. Reach out to our Newport Beach neurosurgery office at (949) 642-6787.

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