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Are you wondering what is happening with your loved ones, and don’t know what to do?
Is your mom distracted and having a hard time finding words, wandering in a familiar place? Does your daddy put his socks in the fridge?
If you are asking yourself these and similar questions, if you are shaking your head at the incomprehensible behaviour of your loved ones, then know that these may be the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Populations around the world are ageing. There is a global increase in the number of people over 60. As a result of the ageing of humanity, the number of people suffering from various types of dementia and Alzheimer's disease is increasing. Dementia is preceded by a stage of mild cognitive impairment, i.e. impaired thinking, memory, reduced learning ability, loss of concentration, attention.
The person forgets significantly more than before, becomes distracted, hardly finds words, loses interest in things he liked, finds it harder to orient himself. In short: he is different, there is a change in his behaviour. This is the right time to seek professional help - either by visiting one of our centres or by asking a question on this page.
How to find your way and get the necessary contacts?
Write to us. Our advice centre will help you find your way around your new situation, find the contacts you need or the answers to your questions. If you would like to be contacted by telephone, please add your telephone number at the end of your enquiry.
How to recognise Alzheimer's disease?
Early recognition of dementia is not always easy. Most people usually do not recognise the disorder themselves, or are embarrassed and mask the symptoms. Mild impairments in thinking and forgetting are often mistaken by those around us as age-appropriate. Impaired abilities are most often noticed in casual conversation. Indications may include frequent inaccuracies, logical errors in responses, difficulty finding words when communicating, and failure to recall certain events and details. Patients are brought to the doctor most often by difficulties with memory and thinking. However, it is often family or friends who bring problems to the doctor's attention. Gradually, the disease can lead to a change in the whole personality, with the primary disorder being impairment of cognition, intelligence and memory, and often changes in emotions and behaviour.
What are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
1. Memory loss that affects the ability to perform normal work tasks. It is normal to forget work tasks, names of colleagues or phone numbers of co-workers and remember them later. However, people with Alzheimer's disease are more likely to forget and not remember later.
2. Difficulty performing normal activities. Very busy people are sometimes distracted, so they sometimes leave the stewed carrots in the casserole on the stove and only remember them when the meal is over. People with Alzheimer's disease will prepare a meal and not only forget to put it on the table, but forget they even made it.
3. Speech problems. Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's forgets even simple words or replaces them with the wrong ones, and their sentences don't make sense.
4. Temporal and local disorientation. Everyone sometimes forgets what day it is and where they are going, this is normal. But people with Alzheimer's get lost in their own street and don't know where they are, how they got there, or how they will get home.
5. Poor or deteriorating rational judgment. People sometimes get so involved in an activity that they forget for a while about the child they are in charge of. People with Alzheimer's completely forget that a child exists. They may even dress senselessly, for example, wearing several shirts or blouses at once. 6. Problems with abstract thinking. Paying bills or keeping track of credit card bills can throw someone off when it is a little more complicated than other times. A person with Alzheimer's can completely forget what the numbers mean and what to do with them.
7. Putting things in the wrong place. Everyone misplaces their wallet or keys at some point. A person with Alzheimer's puts things in completely nonsensical places: an iron in the refrigerator or a watch in the candy cabinet. 8. Changes in mood or behavior. Everyone has a bad mood sometimes. But a person with Alzheimer's is subject to rapid mood changes. He or she suddenly and unexpectedly bursts into tears or succumbs to fits of anger, even though there is no apparent reason for it.
9. Personality changes. Human nature normally changes to some extent with age. But a person with Alzheimer's disease can change in fundamental ways. He or she sometimes becomes very confused, suspicious, or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative. When a person is sometimes frustrated with housework, employment, or social obligations, this is normal. Most of the time, the desire to work soon comes back. A person with Alzheimer's disease can fall into complete passivity and needs constant stimulation to get involved in something.
How to persuade a loved one to have their memory tested?
Mostly, the one who needs to test memory on a challenge/recommendation does not hear from children. It is better if a general practitioner who has known his patient for quite a long time, and even the patient trusts him, recommends the test. It is, after all, an authority more acceptable to the patient than his own children and family. Sometimes the recommendation of a specialist doctor - neurologist, geriatrician - also works.
Sometimes it works to arrange, for example, for both spouses or partners to go for the test - each separately, of course, but the mutual support is positive. Likewise peer support - after prior agreement with the patient's family that a friend will go for the test too. It is good not to talk about the examination at the doctor's office, rather about memory measurement, which is done other than at doctors - for example, at the contact points of the Czech Alzheimer's Society, whether the forgetting is the same as that of his peers or not.
At what stage of dementia or Alzheimer's disease is it time to think about placing your loved one in the care of a specialised facility?
Caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia is challenging, and in the advanced stages of the disease, the family usually cannot do without qualified help. People with Alzheimer's disease require increased care, especially in the later stages of the disease. The manifestation and course of the disease is different for everyone, so it is up to the caregiver to decide how much and how long the person is able to be home alone and when they require the constant presence of another person. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you are running out of strength. Once a person's condition requires 24-hour care, it is up to the relatives to decide whether they are able to provide this care themselves or whether they should go to a specialist facility. Caring for a person with dementia is very mentally and physically demanding and it is by no means a failure if carers choose to use the help of a residential care home.
What can I do to promote healthy ageing?
It goes without saying that ageing does not occur in the same way in all individuals. There is not necessarily a decline in abilities in old age. Some medical experts even speak of so-called healthy cognitive ageing. This is characterised by a person having abilities that match those of middle-aged people. Thus, these persons do not have mood or behavioural disorders.
According to experts, pathological ageing is characterised by the presence of cognitive impairments - for example, memory loss and impaired thinking.
The aging process itself is thus primarily a slowdown in performance. A person is no longer able to process new information and memories sufficiently and then retain them in his memory. Short-term memory lapses also occur.
This is influenced favourably or unfavourably by one's own behaviour and by the social and biological conditions in which the individual moves throughout life.
Prevention is important in this respect. Prevention is the key to slowing down the ageing process.
The most important thing is the prevention of vascular risk factors. These include, for example, atherosclerosis, diabetes (especially in middle age), damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain. The main tool to prevent these health problems is lifestyle modification. A 'Mediterranean diet', which includes a high intake of cereals, fruit, fish, legumes and vegetables, is recommended for dietary habits and is associated with a reduced risk of the above diseases.
Equally important is the "lifestyle" of the person. It is important to lead an active social life. Simply to be active. Keeping your memory sharp, for example by doing crosswords, reading, cultural activities, playing games, educating yourself, etc. Being around people, meeting friends and family, maintaining personal contacts and making new ones. Memory training, age-appropriate physical activity and a constant desire to learn new things are also good for promoting healthy ageing.
Is it normal to become forgetful as we get older?
In old age, it is difficult to distinguish between age-related changes and those caused by disease. Old age is associated with a natural decline in mental abilities, which, although not necessarily a pathological condition, may gradually develop into disease. The aging process is accompanied by uneven deterioration in, for example, memory loss, slowing of the pace of life, reduced mobility and impaired concentration, loss of attention and memory.
After the age of 65, there is an increase in the number of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. The number of diseases increases logically with increasing age. At the same time, early recognition of dementia in old age is not always easy and simple. Often a person does not recognize the disorder or even masks it. Mild memory loss disorders are tolerated by others because others believe they are appropriate to the age of the individual and can therefore be accepted. More severe impairments are often mistaken for manifestations of old age and are not referred to as a disorder.
Impaired abilities, for example, in thinking and memory lapses, can most often be noticed during conversation. These are logical errors. A person commits inaccuracies, finds it difficult to find words, does not recall events, data, dates accurately. On the other hand, however, some abilities such as vocabulary or acquired knowledge do not change.
Patients with impaired thinking and memory loss (or lapses) are most often brought to the doctor because of difficulties with memory and thinking. Often, however, the person does not notice anything and the problems are brought to the doctor's attention by family or friends. Gradually, however, the illness can lead to a change in the whole personality. Emotional behaviour can also change.
How and why do memory disorders affect depression?
Depression can be defined as a pathologically sad mood that does not match the circumstances in depth, duration or duration. It is a serious mental illness. However, it is important to note that not every mood disorder can be described as depression.
Depressive disorders have a significant impact on thinking and memory functions. They are often mistaken for a physiological process of ageing. At the same time, they are one of the most frequently occurring and most serious disorders in the elderly.
The most vulnerable group of people are seniors living alone, followed by those with the lowest education and those without children.
In lonely people, the main reason for depression is the loss of meaning in life. Depression can also be caused by the loss of social ties, the absence of contact with other people. It is important to watch for warning signs, including reduced contact with people, isolation, loss of interests, feelings of hopelessness, and failure to follow a daily routine.
At the same time, depression is often cited as a risk factor for dementia in older age. However, depression itself may not have a direct effect on thinking and memory functions, but seniors suffering from depression are often no longer able to fully use their memory and thinking skills.
Symptoms of dementia can occur with depression, referred to as "depressive dementia", which can be a risk factor for degenerative dementia. Dementia from depression can also sometimes be a transitional stage or phase in the development of the disease from depression without dementia to degenerative dementia. In 20-50 % patients with Alzheimer's disease, the presence of depression is established and is considered a risk factor for the development of the disease.
What can I do to prevent forgetfulness (memory disorders)?
Memory can be defined as the ability of an organism to record, retain and eventually retrieve certain information. In old age, there are significant changes in individual memory areas of the brain. This then leads to a deterioration of memory functions. This leads to short-term memory lapses and makes it harder to process new information.
Educational activities, such as universities and academies of the third age, are among the most important preventive measures.
Another important activity is training the memory itself. Memory training can take place during any normal daily activities. However, for a more significant effect, memory training needs to be regular and targeted, either individually or in a group under the guidance of a memory coach.
Training for short-term memory is focused on finding suitable synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, creating anagrams (i.e. words made up of letters of a sample word), or finding multiple meanings of words (i.e. different meanings of the same base word). Furthermore, the search for words that rhyme with a given pattern by looking for different associations.
Exercising sensory memory and concentration is then focused on trying to spot the small details that differ between two relatively identical pictures, following a "path in a maze", etc. This also includes exercises on recognising the sound of different musical instruments, or natural sounds from everyday life, or looking for variations of the basic melody in the course of a song, etc.
Long-term memory can be trained, for example, by creating a book of life. In addition to the effect this method has on long-term memory, it can also have a significant effect on sending social connections if extended family and friends are involved in the training itself. Various knowledge competitions - either individually, in a club or family setting - are also used to test knowledge and understanding.
How and why do memory disorders affect self-care (the ability to look after oneself)?
Dementia syndrome involves difficulty performing normal, everyday activities. In people with mild memory impairment, they are usually preserved. The transition from mild impairment to dementia is usually smooth. Deterioration occurs subtly and slowly.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the decline in mental abilities of a patient with dementia reaches such a degree that it severely interferes with the performance of daily activities. The generally accepted view is that a patient with dementia has impaired basic activities of daily living, such as
e.g. mastering hygiene, independent movement, food intake. In a patient with a mild deficit, these basic abilities remain.
However, there are gradual difficulties in remembering dates, names of medications and their use, managing financial transactions, filling out documents and remembering events. Some experts report that some activities of daily living may be impaired as early as two years before the onset of dementia itself. Dementia patients' impaired self-sufficiency is not related to age, education or gender at all. Activities of daily living deteriorate significantly with disease progression, i.e. loss of memory and thinking skills.