Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes brain cells to die and the brain to shrink. It is the number one cause of dementia – which manifests as a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function independently. (Mayo Clinic) While Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder, it can lead to additional physical complications as it progresses. Join the ameriCARE team as we review the latest information from the team at AlzheimersDisease.net, a leading resource for patients and caregivers, on the complications of Alzheimer’s disease and ways to limit risk.
Pneumonia and Other Infections
As the article What Are Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease notes, individuals with progressing Alzheimer’s disease face limited mobility and impairment making them more susceptible to infections like pneumonia. Maintaining daily oral hygiene can help reduce the threat of pneumonia. It’s recommended to keep the teeth and mouth clean from bacteria by brushing and using mouthwash regularly. Those with dentures should follow recommended cleaning practices regularly. Because flu can turn into pneumonia, doctors also recommend getting the flu shot yearly.
Those with advanced Alzheimer’s disease may spend prolonged time either sitting or resting in bed. The resulting prolonged pressure on skin can cause it to break down, leading to painful sores. In order to prevent bedsores, it is important to make sure the person is moved a minimum of every two hours to increase blood circulation and relieve pressure on the skin. It’s also crucial to check for skin issues daily and to help keep the skin clean and dry. You can also try using pillows to help relieve pressure on the skin.
Injury Due to Falls
“Individuals with dementia are two to three times more likely to have a fall because of motor impairment, attention problems, medication side effects, and behavior symptoms” says Jaime Rochelle Herndon. The best way to prevent these falls is to evaluate the area for fall risks including high-pile rugs and clutter on the floor. Try installing mobility aids like grab bars and handrails and have the person use a walking aid like a walker.
Dehydration and Malnutrition
Many people with Alzheimer’s disease see a reduction in appetite as they lose their mobility. They may simply forget to eat or drink water or they may even refuse, but it’s important they continue to get enough nutrients and stay hydrated. The Mayo Clinic recommends trying to adapt how you prepare food, making it thicker so they can be swallowed easier. Try broth-based soups or fruit for better fluid intake and pay close attention to fluctuations in weight. If their weight drops significantly, contact their doctor immediately.
Getting the Help You Need
People with Alzheimer’s disease require assistance with daily activities like hygiene, nutrition, exercise, and general administrative tasks. This can feel overwhelming for loved ones. Because Alzheimer’s disease continues to progress, it’s important to find well-trained, experienced caregivers to help improve the quality of life for you or a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s. Whether daily, weekly, or for times respite, you need an in-home caregiver you can trust. Contact your local ameriCARE today to learn more about our in-home caregivers and connect with someone who will provide dignified, respectful care when you need it.