Alzheimer’s Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment


Although physical illnesses cause people much pain and inconvenience, mental diseases also deserve serious consideration since they can impact not only the lives of sick individuals but also those of their families. One of such severe psychological disorders is Alzheimer’s disease, also known as dementia. This condition millions of people worldwide in general and in the USA in particular. The present paper aims at outlining the major issues related to Alzheimer’s disease and defining the peculiarities of caring about patients with this illness.

Data on Alzheimer’s Disease in the USA

Healthcare specialists admit that Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the greatest burdens of modern society. In order to reduce the negative impact of this illness, it is necessary to realize the extent of the problem (Hebert, Weuve, Scherr, & Evans, 2015). In 2010, there were 4.7 million Americans aged 65 or older had dementia (Hebert et al., 2015). It has been estimated that without appropriate preventive measures, there will be 13.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease by 2050 (Hebert et al., 2015). These numbers indicate how dramatic the problem of dementia has become.

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Along with the increased number of patients, death rates of Alzheimer’s disease grow. According to Alzheimer’s Association (2016), in 2013, the disease was the sixth leading cause of death in the USA. These statistics are likely to increase due to the fact that the baby boom generation is aging (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). The disease is a burden not only for patients but also for their families, who require support from the government and healthcare facilities in order to be able to help their loved ones.

The Needs of Patients and Their Families

The first and foremost need experienced by families of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is the explanation of their new duties. Insufficient understanding of carers’ feelings by hospital personnel may lead to additional stress (Bray et al., 2015). Apart from psychological issues, patients’ families also meet serious financial challenges. According to Alzheimer’s Association (2016), in 2015, over 15 million family members and other caregivers who did not receive any payment provided approximately 18.1 billion hours of care. Such an amount of work can be valued at over $221 billion (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). Families are frequently forced to use their retirement savings and other sources of income they have to be able to provide appropriate support for their loved ones. Thus, it is crucial to find effective solutions to prevent dementia-associated expenditures from putting the financial security of such families in danger.

Family Support for Patients with Alzheimer’s

When looking after someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, it is necessary to realize that the task will be challenging and sometimes will even seem impossible to complete. The first step in providing support to a family member is having an honest and calm conversation about the memory gaps and other unusual behavior patterns that are noticed in the person (Hall, 2013). This step may be difficult since many individuals do not admit having problems and become angry when someone starts talking about them.

Another way in which families help their loved ones is by assisting them in taking medicines. There is a variety of duties associated with medicine intake. These may include picking prescriptions from pharmacies, occasional help, and regular attendance due to the specification of dosing (Smith, Grijseels, Ryan, & Tobiansky, 2014). Thus, fulfilling this duty may require much time and sometimes even particular skills from family members.

At further stages of Alzheimer’s disease, carers need to implement various techniques helping to relieve the symptoms and empower their loved ones. It is crucial to show as much support and encouragement as possible and make sure that the person suffering from dementia does not feel lonely and abandoned (Hall, 2013). Such measures require dedication on the part of family members. However, carers also need assistance from medical workers who can reassure them and explain the difficult issues if necessary.

Conclusion

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing burden of modern US society. The paper has outlined the major statistical issues associated with the disease. The requirements for family caregivers have been identified and explained. It is noted that in order to eliminate the negative impact of Alzheimer’s disease and prevent its further growth, measures should be taken to educate people about this illness. Since supporting such patients is frequently hard for families, it is crucial to provide the necessary help to these carers and their loved ones.

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References

Alzheimer’s Association. (2016). 2016 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 12(4), 459-509.

Bray, J., Evans, S., Thompson, R., Bruce, M., Carter, C., Brooker, D., … McSherry, W. (2015). Understanding the needs of people with dementia and family carers. Nursing Older People, 27(7), 18-23.

Hall, J. (2013). Dementia essentials: How to guide a loved one through Alzheimer’s or dementia and provide the best care. London, UK: Vermilion.

Hebert, L. E., Weuve, J., Scherr, P. A., & Evans, D. A. (2015). Alzheimer’s disease in the United States (2010-2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology, 80(19), 1778-1783.

Smith, F., Grijseels, M. S., Ryan, P., & Tobiansky, R. (2014). Assisting people with dementia with their medicines: Experiences of family carers. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 23(1), 44-51.

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