Alzheimer’s Disease: What It Is, Treatment Options & Support For Caregivers

Overview of Condition

Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia. What’s dementia? It’s a decline in memory or thinking severe enough to limit a person’s everyday functionality. More than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s Disease and the number is predicted to increase to 13 million by 2050. But Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect individuals, it’s changes and challenges impact families and loved ones significantly, as well. If you or someone you love has received an Alzheimer’s diagnose, you’re not alone. There is support and help available, especially for the adjustment disorder that can accompany such a life-changing event.

MyHealios is committed to providing valuable support to families, caregivers, and those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Using secure and private telehealth technology, MyHealios provides family behavioral therapy to inform, train and empower anyone caring for, loving and assisting an Alzheimer’s patient. MyHealios’ online mental health clinic, staffed by highly trained family behavioral therapists can help by providing information and tactics to make daily life easier, lower stress, and improve feelings of well-being. MyHealios can help to strengthen a caregiver’s long-term wellness and resilience.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Key symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease include poor memory for recent events and conversations, decreasing ability to understand and retain new information and reduced reasoning skills. Many people with Alzheimer’s Disease may also experience symptoms of depression.

Alzheimer’s Disease generally presents in three stages; early or mild, mid or moderate, and late or severe. While the progression for each individual is unique, thinking about the disease in this way can help people caring for or supporting a loved with Alzheimer’s Disease to understand what changes they may see in their relative in the next few weeks, months, or years.

Adapting to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be challenging – for individuals as well as families and caregivers. You may have questions about the disease, what happens next, and the future. The MyHealios program can help by providing valuable, disease-specific education and training to make living with Alzheimer’s more manageable and improve satisfaction with family life.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Age – Although Alzheimer’s Disease is not a normal part of aging, the risk of getting Alzheimer’s Disease increases as you get older. A greater proportion of people in their 80s and 90s have Alzheimer’s Disease compared to those in their 60s and 70s.
  • Genetics – There is an inherited gene, ApoE4, that is thought to increase someone’s risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Lifestyle factors – Exercise and a healthy diet are thought to help protect against the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, whereas smoking and excessive alcohol intake are believed to increase Alzheimer’s risks.

In addition to finding and cultivating support networks, family caregivers can also learn new skills and valuable information about Alzheimer’s Disease in order to improve management techniques and self-care. One way to do this is through family behavioral therapy, like that provided by MyHealios. Family behavioral therapy is recommended for anyone interacting with a patient (even for only a few hours a week) to help ease stress and improve well-being for the patient as well as the caregiver. Through this type of “psycho-education,” you can learn skills and techniques to improve communications, address specific disease-related challenges and behaviors, problem-solve, and generally improve day-to-day life. MyHealios family behavioral therapy is provided confidentially and conveniently online. Importantly, MyHealios experts are certified in addressing the needs and challenges surrounding serious chronic illness as well as caregiving and are experienced in addressing adjustment disorder, a group of symptoms (such as stress, depressed mood, impaired occupational or social functioning, anxiety, aches, pains, or palpitations) that can occur as a result of a stressful life event. If you’re experiencing any physical or emotional symptoms that could be related to your caregiving role or stressful other life events, MyHealios can help – which is important because, left untreated, adjustment disorder can progress to something more serious.

What You’ll Learn:

You’ll learn that resilience is shared within families, and that resilience can be increased.

You’ll learn the details about cognitive changes in Alzheimer’s and how to adapt to these changes.

You’ll learn best ways to communicate despite the challenges Alzheimer’s can bring to relationships.

You’ll learn how to recognize stress and how to best care for yourself physically and mentally.

You’ll learn how social connections support resilience and how to increase your connectedness.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease can be challenging and can impact on your health, well-being, confidence, and social life. Your relationship with your loved one will change, and you may experience added stress as your role as a caregiver evolves or as your loved one’s condition progresses. You may need to develop new skills and make changes in your life to accommodate caregiving. From dressing to finances and navigating the healthcare system, no one is expected to be an expert immediately. There are, fortunately, many services available to help patients living with Alzheimer’s, their families, loved ones, and caregivers adapt to this life change. MyHealios online family behavioral therapy is one of them – providing emotional support, practical skills training, communication techniques, and stress-reducing skills to help caregivers maintain more balance and look after themselves, as well as their loved one.

Did you know that active, involved, knowledgeable caregivers and loved ones can play a key role in helping patients achieve goals and improve well-being? We encourage you to embrace your ability to make this difference for the person you care about and care for.

Three key things to know about Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease is not a normal part of aging.
    We all forget faces, muddle up the names of our friends and walk into a room and wonder why we’ve gone in there. But Alzheimer’s Disease is different. With Alzheimer’s Disease, memory problems affect life every day, in a way that disrupts activities.
  2. Early diagnosis improves quality of life
    An early diagnosis helps improve the quality of life for the person with dementia and their loved ones. This is because after diagnosis, patients and families can access appropriate medication, support, and services.
  3. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease
    While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this time, with targeted support, people can live well with dementia for many years. And there are several medications available that may reduce people’s symptoms and help to improve their quality of life.