What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Dr. Aloysius (Alois) Alzheimer first described Alzheimer’s disease in 1901 as a type of chronic dementia which affects the areas of the brain that focus on behavior, language, memory and thinking. It is a progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms will slowly appear and worsen over time – often becoming too severe for the patient to manage simple daily tasks.

What Causes Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the aging process, although most people with the disease are over the age of 65. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known, but risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease include a genetic history of Alzheimer’s, head injuries, depression and hypertension.

How Does Alzheimer’s Affect the Brain? 

The latest scientific research has shown that Alzheimer’s prevents brain cells from working as they should by disrupting their processes and causing them to break down. As cells break down, other systems dependent on the processes of those cells are also negatively affected – and so the damage spreads.

Two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles,cause these breakdowns although it is still unknown why they occur. Plaques are protein fragments, known as beta-amyloid, which build up between the brain’s nerve cells while tangles are protein fibers that clog up the inside of the cells. Highly concentrated in the areas of the brain used for memory, people with Alzheimer’s develop a lot more of these buildups than would otherwise naturally occur as we age.

As the disease progresses, patients experience more dramatic symptoms, which can include aggression, personality changes, confusion, difficulty eating and walking and poor sleeping patterns. Fortunately, there are a wide range of services for Alzheimer’s patients and their families such as support groups, memory support services and experienced, medically trained caregivers.

What are Memory Care and Support Services? 

At United Methodist Communities, we offer a support service specifically for Alzheimer’s patients which provides an environment that delivers the highest quality of life. Each resident program, customized to their unique needs and level of independence, focuses on everyday routines such as cooking, gardening, socializing, setting the table, and more within a community lifestyle. These four memory care programs also include activities for general wellness like fitness, music and other sensory activities appropriate for your loved one.

Our residences are designed to be comfortable and homey, encouraging independence while supplying essential support and onsite medical care. For more information on our memory support services for Alzheimer’s and dementia, contact United Methodist Communities today.