For millions of Americans and their families, Alzheimer’s is a daily fact of life. The condition is a progressive and thus far irreversible disorder that slowly causes the patient’s mental function to deteriorate. As one of the most dreaded diseases affecting seniors, the very mention of the disorder can strike fear into both the affected patients and their loved ones who may be asked to take on caregiver roles. If you have a loved one in the Port St. Lucie or Vero Beach, FL area who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s chances are that you are more than a little bit confused about how you can help. This Alzheimer’s Guide can help you to better understand the disease and how you and your loved one can manage its effects.
This disease, which affects roughly four and a half million people in the United States, typically manifests sometime after the age of sixty. Alzheimer’s is the most commonly seen type of dementia, and has a fairly recognizable pattern of progression in most cases:
- In the initial stages, the disease usually begins with a noticeable decrease in memory capacity.
- As it progresses, concentration can be affected, as focus becomes more difficult and cognitive ability slows.
- Emotional outbursts and mood swings can become more frequent. Patients can become frustrated more easily, and can sink into depression.
- Disorientation and confusion become more common.
- Motor skills can be impaired, and coordination is reduced.
- Over time, patients can lose the ability to easily communicate with loved ones and others. They may eventually have times where they forget those closest to them, and struggle to perform even the most basic everyday tasks.
- Brain tissues gradually erodes. While patients can survive for decades with the disease, most only live an average of nine years after its onset.
The National Institute on Aging has more information about the disease at its Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) webpage. You can also contact ADEAR with your questions by calling them at (800) 438-4380 or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caring for Patients with Alzheimer’s
Caring for Alzheimer’s patients in Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach is an important concern both for families and for those communities. As the loved one of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, it is incumbent upon you to have a plan for that patient’s future care needs. To prepare that plan, you should avail yourself of the many resources available to you and your loved ones.
The Alzheimer’s Associates Southeast Florida Chapter provides resources and support for those with the disease and their families. Their assistance includes a variety of educational offerings, social programs, and support group opportunities. You can find out more by contacting the Chapter at (800) 272-3900.
Patients who have developed the disorder before the age of 65 are considered Younger-Onset Early Stage. There is specific support relevant to this group as well. Call (954) 895-8329 to get more information. There is also an early-stage group focused on Port St. Lucie, offering sessions for patients and caregivers. You can find out more by calling (800) 272-3900.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also has more information to assist Alzheimer’s caregivers to provide you with the guidance you need as you struggle to help your loved one cope with the disorder. In addition to outlining the different stages of the disease that you might witness, the site also offers advice about discussing the matter with friends and family, guidance to help explain the condition to children, and links to other resources.
Memory Care Facilities
There are also a number of facilities in Port St. Lucie that offer memory care services for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. You can locate many of the facilities by consulting the list compiled at caring.com. You can find reviews of these care centers at senioradvisor.com. Caring.com also provides a similar list for memory care and dementia facilities serving Vero Beach patients. You can consult that list here, and view reviews of the facilities on the senioradvisor.com Vero Beach webpage.
There are certain medications that you should learn about as well, since there is a chance that your loved one-s physician may prescribe one to help arrest the deterioration of neurons that contribute to the disease’s progression. The FDA has approved of five such medications, and you can read about them on the Alzheimer’s Organization website here.
Health Care Concerns
Alzheimer’s patients can be vulnerable to a wide range of health care concerns that can make life even more challenging. It is important to ensure that your loved one receives medical care when needed, especially when he or she is receiving in-home care or living with you or other family members. Both the Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach areas offer state of the art medical services at health care facilities:
- St. Lucie Medical Center is a modern facility that provides everything from routine health checkups and screenings to surgeries, rehabilitation, emergent care and hospice services. (772) 335-4000
- Indian River Medical Center offers state of the art care for illnesses and injuries, general health care needs, and emergency care. (772) 567-4311
Financial Concerns for Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Families
One of the most challenging pieces of the Alzheimer’s puzzle involves the issue of finances. Often times, patients have not had an opportunity to prepare for their future before this disorder strikes. That can leave them and their families struggling to pay for medical care, make up for lost income, and finance long-term care if that becomes a necessity. Proper financial planning and preparation can be essential for dealing with this disease or any form of dementia.
At Kulas & Crawford our estate planning and elder law experts can help to ensure that seniors and their families are better prepared to deal with the financial and legal consequences associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you and your family deal with these critical issues, contact us online or give us a call at (772) 398-0720 today.