Alzheimer's disease is considered the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2004. The death toll continues to rise every year. The disease is the third most costly in the U.S. Heart disease and cancer are the first and second most costly respectively. It is recorded that there 24 million people with dementia worldwide, the figure will more than double by 2040.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that is irreversible with no known cause or cure. The disease affects two major types of abilities. Alzheimer's affects the very simple everyday activities such as dressing, eating, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, and even walking. One needs to be assisted in order to accomplish such tasks.
The other ability affected by the disease are the performance of more complex tasks like managing finances, driving a car, preparing and cooking meals and working in a job. It is normal for people with the disease to experience problems with complex tasks first which later on move to the more simple everyday jobs as the disease progresses.
Treatment is vital for people with Alzheimer's disease. Treating a patient requires the conglomeration of the expertise of a family doctor and various medical specialists like psychiatrists or neurologists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, social workers, and counselors. Because the disease affects not only the patient but the whole family as well.
It is very important that family members work closely with the doctors in administering the treatment. The family should be informed of activities that are dangerous for people with Alzheimer's disease. Some of these activities include driving or cooking.
Treating dementia related symptoms of Alzheimer's vary. But such treatments can only be effective if the dementia is caused by factors like medications, alcohol, delirium, tumors, depression, head injury and infections. There are, however, some treatments that are being used to "cure" the well being of a person afflicted with the disease.
Activities like playing music, personal interactions, playing videotapes of family members, walking and light exercise and pet therapy have been found to be successful in helping people develop friendship, mutual support and spiritual connectedness with the people around them.
However, one should remember that such activities can be beneficial to one but could be detrimental to another patient. The best activity for a person with Alzheimer's varies. Former hobbies or points of interest of a person could also be used to help people with the disease and their families to cope.
One could assist the person to engage in activities like supervised gardening, singing, cooking, painting and drawing as long as routine is established. It is very important to engage in these activities on a regular basis for this could help the person establish a sense of stability.
Some therapies combine various activities and have proved to be fairly successful and garnered some favorable results. Such programs combine music, exercise, crafts and relaxation which obtained the best results.
Some even add various structured sessions like meditations, sensory awareness and guided imagery in their attempts to calm and pacify the already unstable behaviors of patients with Alzheimer's.
Aside from daily physical exercise and social activities, some of the things that you also need to consider in treating a patient are proper nutrition and health maintenance; daily activities that will give the feelings of accomplishment for the individual; keeping the patient out of harm's way; and knowing the physical and emotional limitations of the patient, the care giver team and the family.
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