a senior worried man

Alzheimer’s disease might be one of the top five conditions in the United States, but many people still don’t know much about it. It can be a problem if one of your loved ones receives such a diagnosis. To help you prepare for the changes and the challenges of caring, here are five things that you should know about the condition:

1. What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. Dementia is a chronic mental disorder characterized by the deterioration of memory and reasoning as well as the changes in personality.

Until now, no one knows the exact cause, although science understands what happens to the brain because of the condition. It can lead to the death of the cells of the brain, which will also shrink over time. People with Alzheimer’s disease will also develop plaques and tangles.

The plaques refer to the buildup of a specific type of protein called amyloid. They can interfere with the neural pathways and affect the way the brain communicates information. The tangles, meanwhile, represent the twisting of the tau proteins that help provide nourishment to the brain cells.

2. How many people have the condition?

According to Alzheimer’s Association (ALZ), nearly 6 million Americans have the condition. By 2050, it can go up to 16 million, especially if no cure becomes available within the period. In Oregon, at least 65,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s, and this number can increase to 84,000 by 2025.

3. What are the challenges of the disease?

There’s no doubt that the condition is challenging for those with the disease. As it progresses, people will experience significant personality changes. They will develop apathy, social isolation, and disorientation. With their losing memory, they cannot recognize familiar faces or even know how to speak or take care of themselves.

The disease can also have a profound impact on the caregivers, especially family members. In the United States, over 40 million people provide unpaid care each year, and these individuals are prone to caregiving burnout. It will increase their chances of substance abuse, depression, stress, and even feelings of resentment.

a caregiver and her patient

Elderly healthcare services in Salem can be one of the strategic solutions to manage caregiving burnout. They will give family members a time to relax, recharge, or work.

4. What are the different types of assistance available?

Alzheimer’s disease is not cheap. The average cost already reaches over $275 billion, excluding unpaid caregiving. About $60 million is out-of-pocket expenses.

For low-income households, they can use their Medicaid to pay for in-home and adult care services. It may also cover the costs of staying in nursing home facilities. In Oregon, families can look into Oregon Project Independence. It is a program intended for people who cannot take advantage of the Medicaid program. The primary goal is to provide support for individuals with the condition, so they can live independently for as long as possible.

5. What has science revealed about the condition?

It’s unclear when a cure for the disease will become available. Science, though, has made significant strides to understand the nature of the condition. One of these is the discovery of a gene recombination that produces many Alzheimer’s variants. They are also learning the connection between alcohol use and gut bacteria with the disease.

These questions don’t cover everything, but they should touch on the basics. The bottom line is that you have adequate support available whenever you need information. You don’t need to feel alone.