The most common form of dementia—Alzheimer’s disease—was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. He discovered abnormal protein clumps in the brain of a woman who died after experiencing what he described as “unusual mental symptoms” in 1906. More than a century later, much more is understood about this condition, although there’s still work to do. Today, we’re going to provide a brief overview of Alzheimer’s disease and how our collective understanding of this condition has changed over the years.
It’s Not Always an “Old Person’s Disease”
Initially, what would come to be called Alzheimer’s disease was thought to be a type of presenile dementia and not the same type of senility that was more common in older adults. This assumption was made because the individual Dr. Alzheimer was studying, Auguste Deter, was showing signs of memory loss while still in her 50s. It wasn’t until several years later that scientists discovered the brain plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease were more common in elderly individuals.
A Broader Understanding of Alzheimer’s & Who It Affects
In the late 1960s, British psychiatrists learned more about the plaques linked with Alzheimer’s. Because of their findings, scientists began to question the classification of Alzheimer’s as a type of dementia that’s different from what’s more common in older adults. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that an American neurologist named Robert Katzman suggested shifting away from the age distinction that was, up until then, commonly used to categorize and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
Development of Drugs to Manage or Slow Symptoms
By the late 1970s, clinical trials were underway to look for medications that may be able to manage or slow symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. Tacrine, the first drug specifically for this purpose, was approved by the FDA in 1993. Since then, four more medications have been approved specifically for people with Alzheimer’s.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, help is just a phone call away. There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading senior home care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.
Greater Public Awareness
In 1994, former President Ronald Reagan announced that, at the age of 83, he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This sparked discussions within the medical community about the differences between the type of cognitive decline related to normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. The former president’s experience with the disease also brought more attention to the condition and contributed to a debate about stem cell research related to Alzheimer’s.
Genetic Studies & Further Research
In the early 2000s, the Alzheimer’s Association teamed up with the National Institutes of Health for a large-scale study of possible genetic patterns in people with Alzheimer’s. Part of this research involved collecting blood samples from individuals in families in which more than one person was known to have Alzheimer’s disease. Today, research into Alzheimer’s disease continues. The primary focus today is on early detection and prevention.
It’s hoped that a better understanding of the phases of Alzheimer’s before symptoms are noticeable will make it easier to take proactive management and treatment steps. However, there’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers do know enough to offer preventative recommendations that include:
• Managing chronic medical conditions likely to affect the brain
• Following a diet that includes fruits, veggies, and other brain-healthy foods
• Getting regular aerobic exercise
• Making appropriate lifestyle adjustments
• Getting more restorative sleep
Aging adults who need help handling mental and physical health issues can benefit from the assistance of highly trained professional caregivers. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Sarasota Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
A Broad Approach to Alzheimer’s Care
When it comes to care, seniors with Alzheimer’s are typically encouraged to remain as independent as possible as the disease progresses. Care, which is often provided by family members, is broader today in the sense that it often includes a focus on quality of life, safety, and comfort coupled with active engagement and stimulation.
If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Sarasota seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that promotes cognitive health and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Call us at (941) 702-5525 today to talk to one of our compassionate Care Managers about our high-quality home care services.