June was Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month—and what a month it was! Alzheimer’s research made headlines worldwide as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the accelerated approval of Aduhelm the first treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease that addresses not only the symptoms but also the root causes of Alzheimer’s.
Though June may be over, the Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month mission of showing support spreading awareness continues year-round. In that spirit, we at SavaSeniorCare want to take a moment to talk about Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and how memory care therapies administered in a qualified assisted living facility can slow the disease’s progression while significantly improving quality of life for patients and families.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Dr. Peter Cavazzoni, M.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, describes Alzheimer’s Disease as: “a neurodegenerative disease that causes progressive impairments in memory, language, and thinking, with the eventual loss of ability to perform social and functional activities in daily life.”
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia: what’s the difference?
Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they have specific and different meanings. one key distinction is that dementia isn’t a specific disease. Dementia is a general term for a collection of symptoms that make it hard to function independently in daily life. As the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D. explained, “common symptoms include:
- A decline in memory
- Changes in thinking skills
- Poor judgment and reasoning skills
- Decreased focus and attention
- Changes in language and communication skills”
On the other hand, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease characterized by particular patterns of cell damage in the brain, causing patients to exhibit dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s is the most common and best-known type of dementia.
How Do You Treat Alzheimer’s Disease?
Treatments are always improving and new therapies entering clinical trials as we speak. In June 2021, the FDA approved a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease’s underlying causes for the first time. Aduhelm—the proprietary name of aducanumab—is not a cure, nor does it claim to be one. Still, it is incredibly exciting that researchers are already developing ways to treat dementia at the source. it’s a promising step for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and their loved ones.
Until there’s a cure, however, the gold standard of Alzheimer’s care is memory care therapy in a high-quality assisted living facility. An assisted living facility serves multiple objectives simultaneously. The first priority is patient health and quality of life.
In the initial stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, spotting the early signs is crucial. Early detection and proactive treatment can slow the disease’s progression and even add years to a patient’s life. With regular health checks and constant access to trained medical professionals, residents of an assisted living facility will have the best chance of early detection—sometimes even before symptoms manifest.
Another role assisted living facilities play relates to loved ones. Thanks to the work of advocacy organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, the incredible work of caregivers and the long unseen toll of that labor can is finally getting some of the attention it deserves. However, we still have a long way to go. A long underappreciated aspect of Alzheimer’s is the burden it places on families. At different stages of the disease, Alzheimer’s patients require very different levels of care. Where early stage dementia patients can live mostly independently, later stage patients often require round-the-clock assistance.
Few families are equipped to provide that level of care to a loved one. That’s not for a lack of love or effort—many families who try have deep reserves of both. Yet even when caregivers ca but because effective Alzheimer’s Disease treatment and memory care require a massive time investment, a degree of advanced medical knowledge that few people have time to learn while also juggling the demands of daily life, AND significant financial investment to configure a safe, comfortable, accessible home.
For most patients with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we would recommend seriously considering an assisted living facility equipped to administer memory care therapy. Not only will this lessen the burden for loved ones: by receiving the highest standard of care, it can also significantly improve patient health and quality of life.
If you or a loved one are considering an assisted living facility or nursing home with a memory care unit, please consider SavaSeniorCare. And if you have any additional questions about dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, assisted living facilities or memory care, we would we happy to offer assistance. We invite you to contact us at SavaSeniorCare.