HOUSTON — Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior.
It can be devastating, and often times, it takes a greater toll on the caretaker than the patient.
“The loved ones suffer even more, because at a point, the individual doesn’t know what’s happening because they live moment to moment,” said Dr. Faith Atai, a geriatrician with UT Physicians.
There are more than 6 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Atai said the number keeps growing because people are living longer. She also said that for many it’s diagnosed later than expected with many people living independently, away from family.
“For highly-educated individuals, they find ways to compensate for lapses (in memory) pretty well, so by the time family members discover a problem, there are a lot of things that have fallen through the cracks," Dr. Atai said.
- Symptoms of this type of dementia include:
- Increased memory loss and confusion
- Inability to learn new things
- Poor judgement leading to bad decisions
- Difficulty organizing thoughts
- Losing or misplacing things in odd places
- Wandering and getting lost
- Problems coping with new situation
Dr. Atai says while medical care often focuses on the patient, the Center for Healthy Aging also focuses on the family’s needs.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of caregivers fall ill, and even die, because they neglecting their own health and weren’t taking care of themselves, while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Atai said.