Do you have a parent or close relative who has recently been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s? Has the diagnosis caught you and your family off guard?
Living with an Alzheimer’s parent or other relative can be difficult, but there are ways that you can help your family member to mitigate the disease.
One in ten Americans age sixty-five or older have Alzheimer’s related dementia, and there are 5.8 million people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia in the United States. That number is projected to surpass 14 million by 2050. Such sobering statistics are enough to invoke a sense of dread in all of us.
The good news is that, with Alzheimer’s and dementia encroaching on more and more lives, we continue to discover new ways to effectively mitigate these illnesses. Living with Alzheimer’s often comes with loneliness, and isolation is believed to accelerate the deterioration of the mind. Therefore, specialists stress the importance of social activity and engagement for older men and women, both to prevent dementia and to slow its spread once it takes hold.
What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?
To the untrained eye, dementia and Alzheimer’s might look as if they’re two words describing the same condition. Although they often explain the same symptom—memory loss—they are different in what they are exactly. Dementia is an overall term—like heart disease—that can refer to an array of conditions relating to mental and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease happens to account for 60 to 80 percent of cases of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, not the other way around.
Thus, the same treatments can serve your relative whether they’re living with Alzheimer’s or suffering from dementia more broadly. Both require a substantial amount of social activity to keep the mind sharp.
Why is Social Interaction So Important?
Experts agree that social interaction is beneficial for all ages, but it’s especially vital for warding off cognitive decline in the elderly. There is perhaps nothing more important to preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s than consistent, scheduled activities involving conversing and listening.
These activities shouldn’t stop after Alzheimer’s is identified, either. Alzheimer’s sufferers continue to reap the benefits of socializing even after they have been diagnosed. Alzheimer’s and dementia take a toll on a person’s ability to socialize, due to the confusion, frustration, and forgetfulness so many patients experience. Think of consistent social engagement as practice; the more a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s participates, the better they will be. Regular social activity makes living well with Alzheimer’s much more doable.
Social engagement slows the onset of the disease, extending your loved one’s life expectancy after the diagnosis while putting them in a better position to maintain a sense of independence and control over their lives for a longer period of time.
It is important to note that while interaction with family is valuable, simply living with your Alzheimer’s parent or other family member isn’t enough. Whether you’re trying to mitigate the disease or help your family member live well with Alzheimer’s once it has taken hold, your relative needs time out of the house, going to a variety of activities with different groups of people. Time socializing with family is important, but time with others their own age is equally essential.
There are several activities that can help your mother, father, uncle or grandparent live a richer, fuller life with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Living with an Alzheimer’s parent can be an opportunity to not only spend time with them, but also help them keep their mind working by encouraging social interactions of all types.
So What Are Some Great Activities for an Alzheimer’s Sufferer?
Card games are great ways to encourage socializing while having fun too. Additionally, games of strategy, like bridge for example, also go a long way towards keeping things sharp upstairs. Puzzles present an opportunity for planning, problem-solving, and teamwork. Singing and playing popular songs is fantastic because it forces your loved one to remember the lyrics and the music. Baking together is yet another great way to plan (by following a recipe) while being social.
There are many more safe, engaging and fun ways your loved one can stay active. These activities slow the effects of dementia, provide a structured schedule, give a sense of accomplishment, and limit challenging behaviors. An assisted living facility for patients who need memory care can help provide fun, structured activities like these to your loved ones on a daily basis.
Living well with Alzheimer’s is possible with continued love, support, visits from family, and a little help from a local assisted living care center like Assured Assisted Living.
For more information about Assured Assisted Living, reach out with any questions, either by email or by calling (303) 814-2688 today. One of our care managers will be more than happy to provide you with additional details about our community and the many benefits we offer to those living near Denver, Colorado.