How Does Alzheimer’s Really Affect an Individual? (by Sharlene Lal)

sharlenepicIntroduction

During my community work, I have become very interested in what happens in the minds of an Alzheimer’s patient. I have been doing community work in an Alzheimer’s home, where I set up activities, such as painting, bingo, arts and crafts, etc. Then I work with the resident’s as they play games, do arts and crafts, or solve puzzles, and other hands on activities. What has mostly interested me is learning how to talk to a resident with the disease, and learning how every individual reacts in certain situations. Going into this community work, I had known nothing about Alzheimer’s, and I thought it was just older people who were forgetting everything and everyone in their lives. After being in the home for hours, and getting to know the residents, I realized that every individual in different; moreover, every individual is affected differently by the disease. The question that I am focusing on is: how does Alzheimer’s really affect an individual, and what exactly is going through their heads?

Source 1

Costa, Samantha. “Caring for a Parent With Alzheimer’s Disease.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 7 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.

<http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/08/07/caring-for-a-parent-with-alzheimers-disease>

This article gives some background information about Alzheimer’s disease. One thing that is important to know about Alzheimer’s, is that there is no cure for the disease. It is one of the top 10 causes of death in America, and once one has been diagnosed, it s hard to tell how long they will live. The average time for living with the disease is eight years, although some individuals may live up to twenty. There are different stages of the disease; at the beginning one can forget little things, like where they put their keys; however, towards the end, one can forget how to eat. This article is about a woman named Elizabeth Brood, and how she saw Alzheimer’s affect her father and mother after they were diagnosed. She explains how many indviduals associate Alheimer’s with just memory loss, but one does not realize that after a while one can forget how to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom, such as her mother. There are many effects of Alzheimer’s that people do not realize; it is difficult to understand that things that we do on a regular basis can be forgotten. The article explains how eventually, it seems as fi a person with Alzheimer’s is almost childlike, and one has to speak to them very slowly, using short words and sentences. It is important to realize that there are many other things that come with Alzheimer’s than just forgetting where one put their keys.

Source 2

“After Alzheimer’s Diagnosis, ‘The Stripping Away Of My Identity'” Ebscohost. N.p., 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.pcc.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=9&sid=278b56ae-747a-463c-92ad-69defaa5114f%40sessionmgr112&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=6XN201501312006&db=nfh

This article is about an Alzheimer’s patient, Greg O’Brien, and his point of view about the confusion he is going through, and how he feels about it. It explains that he often feels as if he has lost his identity and feels like he has forgotten who he really is. He explains how he has to label his soap, lotion, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc., because he forgets which is which, and would use rubbing alcohol as mouthwash. There are times that he forgets who people are that he has known throughout his childhood, and they have to introduce themselves again to him. Elaborating more on his memory, he states that sixty percent of his short term memory is gone within 30 seconds usually, and sometimes forgets how to do basic things, such as mowing a lawn, or using a phone. What I feel is most important in this article, is when he explains that he does not recognize people, so they come up and introduce themselves to him. I think this is significant because it shows that his friends and family can somewhat understand what he is going through, and they don’t harass him to remember things when he does not. They simply just tell him again when he does not remember. This directly relates back to my question because it shows an individual’s personal experience with Alzheimer’s, and his recognition of his memory loss.

Source 3

“Seeing What Isn’t There: Inside Alzheimer’s Hallucinations.” Ebscohost. N.p., 30 May 2015. Web. 5 Aug. 2015. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.pcc.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=12&sid=278b56ae-747a-463c-92ad-69defaa5114f%40sessionmgr112&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=6XN201505302006&db=nfh This is another article about Greg O’Brien; however, instead of sharing the confusion he battles with when doing regular tasks in the day, he discusses the hallucinations that he begins to get since being diagnosed with the disease. This article shows that there are many different ways that Alzheimer’s can affect an individual. O’Brien discusses how he would see different types of insects crawling on the ceiling of his room, and birds flying around in his room as well. It took a moment for him to realize that nothing was actually there. Although, unfortunately, O’Brien gets both hallucinations and confusion about everyday things, some individuals get only one thing, or maybe even something completely different. It seems as if O’Brien is aware of his disease, and is aware of his hallucinations. He realizes after a while that what he is seeing is not really there, but there are some individuals who do not realize this at all. They do not understand that they are having hallucinations, and think that what they are seeing is actually real; moreover, they can never realize that what they are seeing is just in their heads. This relates directly back to the question that I am focusing on because it shows how O’Brien is being affected personally, and what exactly is going on in his mind.

Ways To Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved in caring for people with Alzheimer’s. I think the most important thing someone can do is share their knowledge about the disease with others. There are many misconceptions about the disease, so there are many things a person can learn about it. When speaking to someone with Alzheimer’s, it is a common reaction to try to explain reality to the person, but one has to realize that a person with Alzheimer’s is in their own reality; moreover, if someone were telling you that everything you believed was wrong, you would be upset, so we need to realize that we cannot do this to an Alzheimer’s patient. Teaching other individuals this, will make it easier to talk to a person with Alzheimer’s, and doing just that is a good way to help and get involved. In addition, there are also many living facilities in which others can do community work. Spending some time with patients with Alzheimer’s is very impactful for the patient and the individual doing the community work. It is very rewarding to know that you are the reason for the smile on someone’s face. In addition, volunteering at these homes is a great way to learn more about the disease and how to deal with individuals who have it.

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2 comments

  1. Kayla

    I’m not sure I’m a big fan of how you structured your blog. You had a well structured introduction, then just listed sources and the information that you found from them. It didn’t flow very well for me. I think the community service work you did was awesome and very inspiring. Nice work.

  2. Sindia

    It triggers me that people who suffer this disease has a life expectancy of 10 years, and as you said some live more, but still though. However, I still thinking why only 10 years, what does this disease do? I think I have had the same limited conception of Alzheimer does to a person. got to the conclusion that victims of Alzheimer dies because the fact that they can put themselves in danger without knowing it. Turning on a stove for instance would be a tragedy.
    I guess for those who are victims of the terrible disease finding themselves surround by strangers very often is a difficult situation. Also, I did not know that they can have hallucinations as well.
    I bet that it was a impactful experience for you,it would be for me too.
    This was a very interesting topic; it makes think.
    Thanks Sharlene.

    -Sindia-

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