Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Dr. Alzheimer, in 1906, observed changes in the brain tissue of a women who died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers. According to the National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center the abnormal clumps are called amyloid plaques and the tangled bundles of fibers are called neurofibrillary. These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain. The nerve cells known as neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body. Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. They continue to conduct studies to learn more about plaques, tangles and other biological features of Alzheimer’s disease. A great mystery of Alzheimer’s disease is why it largely strikes older adults? However according to Alzheimer’s North Carolina, the youngest person they have encountered with Alzheimer’s disease was age 33. This disease really has no preference of age.
This disease is complex, and it affects different people in different ways. When I have a family come to me for resources and understanding I always tell them “prepare yourself, because it is not going to get any better or easier.” It may seem heartless for me to tell a family member this, but I am totally truthful. I do not want to give them false hope. Mild cognitive impairment is the beginning of a not-normal condition. When memory, language behavior and motor skills appear to be off, you should get an assessment and see your health care provider. Families need to learn all they can about this disease. Families need to build a network of support early. As this disease progresses it will become more taxing on the family. I strive to assist families anyway I can with resources, websites, education, respite when needed, facts, information and much more. We offer a Dementia Education/Alzheimer’s Support Group the second Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m., in the Sampson County Department of Aging training room. We also offer many educational workshops. We are very fortunate to have the Family Caregiver Support Program in our county.
The Positive Approach to Care TM that Teepa Snow created helps us understand that people living with dementia can continue doing things they enjoy and can continue to live well. By training the caregiver simple techniques through my workshops will provide families the ability to stay connected to their loved one. People living with dementia will experience more moments of joy when they are truly connected.
You may be interested in attending a Caregiver Education Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Haymount United Methodist Church in Fayetteville. To register call Lisa Levine of Alzheimer’s North Carolina at 1-800-228-8738 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Oct. 17. Hope you and your loved one have “A Best Day Ever”.
Lesia Henderson is a Positive Approach to Care Independent Trainer and Sampson County Department of Aging Family Caregiver Support Specialist.