What is Cognitive Decline?
The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be confusing. My mom looked perfectly fine, she spoke in full sentences. She walked without a limp despite a swollen arthritic knee, and even her friends could hardly believe she was 83 years old. On the surface, this lady with Alzheimer’s looked just like you or me.
Since the person with dementia looks the same, and isn’t physically impaired, we expect them to behave like you or me. So our list of complaints about their outrageous behavior to the contrary goes on and on.
1. They ask what day it is a million times a day.
2. They keep telling the same story over and over and over.
3. They wear the same clothes every day and refuse to change.
4. They won’t take a shower or bath or stay clean.
5. They spit their food, or refuse to swallow.
6. They never sleep all night but wake up and prowl around or howl into the night.
7. They cry and complain and beg to go home–when they are home!
8. They wear their heaviest coat in the summer and swim trunks in the winter.
9. They walk outside and think they’re in a different city.
10. They beg for breakfast at 10:00 P.M.
I could go on and on– If you’re a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, I’m sure you have a multitude of anecdotes that you could add to my list as well.
The person with Alzheimer’s may “look” totally normal so we expect them to act totally normal.
Yet, we don’t “see” their brain.
If we saw their brain we’d realize quickly enough that their brain does NOT look like yours or mine— (unless, of course, Alzheimer’s is in our future too) their brain looks different.
If you had a friend who suffered a brain injury in an auto accident, you would feel sympathy for their plight. However, the auto accident victim would most likely have an outward scar or injury to proclaim and remind of his brain damage. This isn’t true for the Alzheimer’s victim, yet they do have brain damage equally as destructive as any auto accident.
Brain Damage causes loss of Cognitive Thinking: “Losses pertaining to cognition, the process of knowing and, more precisely, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging.”
Dementia is Cognitive Decline.
Alzheimer’s is one form of Dementia. And the Dictionary definition of Dementia is: This condition is generally caused by deterioration of brain tissue… Major characteristics include short- and long-term memory loss, impaired judgment, slovenly appearance, and poor hygiene. Dementia disrupts personal relationships and the ability to function occupationally
The simplistic description of this invasion to the Alzheimers brain is “Tangles and Plaques.” [Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Plaques are extracellular deposits of abnormally processed amyloid precursor protein, and tangles are intracellular accumulations of the cytoskeletal protein tau. These tangles and plaque appear to overrun parts of the brain and destroy the connections that normally form in the brain.]
For a more complete description…[Read More]
This brain damage results in the outrageous behaviors we see from the Alzheimer’s patient as well as the many sorrows the Patient suffers as they lose more and more of their ability to function normally from day to day. The brain tends to unravel backwards, the newest knowledge forgotten first until the patient may only recollect their family of origin.
As caregivers, the most important thing we can do is make life as comfortable as possible as our loved one transitions through each new loss. If you’ve found any activities or ideas that help the busy caregiver of today, please share your idea here!
Comedies and Musicals are fine DVD’s with little concentration requiredDigital Clocks are readable by those with dementiaMost elderly womae with dementia love baby dollsSpringbok Puzzles have 36 piecesSpringbok the Sewing BoxSpringbok The Jungle Book
To learn more about Cognitive Decline, the following books will help
Diet and Nutrition in Dementia and Cognitive DeclineAnti-Alzheimer’s Action Guide: How to Avoid America’s Most Dreaded DiseaseThe Alzheimer’s Solution: How Today’s Care Is Failing MillionsOn Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s