FAQ’s about Dementia & Alzheimer’s

1.How are Dementia and Alzheimer's disease alike or different?

Dementia is not a disease, but rather a collection of symptoms characterized by degeneration in intellectual functioning severe enough to interfere with a person's normal daily activities and social relationships. Alzheimer's disease is but one of the many types of dementia, but is the most common cause of dementia in older persons. It is marked by progressive and, at present, irreversible declines in certain cognitive functions. These impairments may include declines in memory, time and space orientation, abstract thinking, impairment of judgment, the ability to learn and carry out mathematical calculations, language and communication skills, personality changes, and the performance of routine tasks. There are many other forms of dementia but the second most common form is vascular dementia which is caused by destruction of neurons and their connections in the brain, due to impaired blood supply or stroke. Other forms of dementia include Lewy Body dementia, fronto-temporal dementia – formerly known as Pick's disease- and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Dementia can also develop from other diseases affecting the nervous system, including Parkinson's disease and AIDS.

2. How many people suffer from Alzheimer's disease?

It is estimated that up to 4.5 million people currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease in the United States, but this number may miss the large number of people with mild symptoms or those who have not been properly diagnosed. The proportion of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond the age of 65 with a peak prevalence of approximately 45% for persons over 85 years of age. A federal government publication estimated that in the year 2000 there were approximately 35 million Americans ages 65 or older with some form of dementia. These numbers demonstrate that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are a public health concern.

3. What are the stages in the development of Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease; the symptoms grow worse over time. Yet, it is also a variable disease. Symptoms progress at different rates and in different patterns. The appearance and progression of symptoms will vary from one person to the next. The most common classification of stages is early, middle, late and end stage, although there are other systems of staging that have seven or twelve sub-stages. Some of the common symptoms for each stage include:

Early Stage:

  • difficulty recognizing family and friends
  • getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • losing valuable items
  • possible depression due to stress, frustration, or fatigue

Middle Stage:

  • problems with routine tasks
  • difficult managing money, driving, or legal affairs
  • changes in personality and judgment
  • difficulties with home maintenance, housekeeping, and cooking

Late Stage:

  • anxiety, paranoia, suspiciousness, agitation
  • confusion and memory loss
  • difficulty with activities of daily living, such as feeding and bathing
  • disorientation
  • hallucinations and delusions
  • sleep disturbances
  • wandering or pacing.

End Stage:

  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • loss of bladder and bowel control
  • loss of speech
  • total dependence on caregiver
  • hospice care becomes desirable

4. Are memory problems the only symptom of Alzheimer's disease (AD)?

Mild forgetfulness and memory delays often occur as part of the normal aging process. With normal aging of the brain, older individuals simply need more time to learn a new fact or to remember an old one. Persons afflicted with Alzheimer's disease (AD) will, however, find these symptoms progressing in frequency and severity. Everyone, from time to time, will forget where they placed their car keys; an individual with AD, however, may not remember what the keys are for. In general, if memory loss increases in frequency or severity, begins to worry (makes an impression on) friends and family, or begins to interfere with daily activities (employment tasks, social interactions, and family chores, for example), it is advisable to seek out qualified professional advice. A geriatric specialist or neurologist may help in this diagnosis. It is advisable to fine practitioners with extensive knowledge, experience, and interest in dementia and memory problems.

There are many other behaviors associated with varying stages of Alzheimer's disease. In most cases, the disease tends to be progressive. It can cause unusual and unpredictable behaviors that can be challenging to caregivers. As the illness progresses, commonly encountered symptoms and problems include:

  • Inability to carry out usual tasks
  • Poor judgment
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Personality changes
  • Aggression, agitation, and combativeness
  • Hallucinations
  • Incontinence
  • Wandering or pacing
  • Poor eating habits
  • Sexually inappropriate behavior
  • Communication disturbances or loss

5. Do we know what causes Alzheimer's disease (AD)?

Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer's disease, but it is clear that Alzheimer's disease develops as a result of a complex series of changes inside the brain that take place over time. Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. There are recent studies that also suggest the risk factors for stroke, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer's disease overlap a great deal. For example, stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes are also risk factors for AD. As with many disease processes, certain lifestyle risk factors also contribute to the possibility of Alzheimer's disease. They can include smoking, diets low in antioxidants, fruits, and vegetables, obesity, and even long-term stress. Scientists continue to research genetic factors, biochemical disturbances, inflammation processes, and immune processes to find the cause.

6. How long do people with Alzheimer's disease live after developing the disease?

Persons with Alzheimer's disease often live for years with the disease, eventually dying from pneumonia or other diseases. The duration of Alzheimer's disease from time of diagnosis can be 20 years or more. The average length of time from onset of symptoms is thought to be in the range of 4 to 8 years. People are best treated for the disease when there is good communication, coordination and cooperation among the people who provide care. The primary caregiver, the extended family, the physician, and the rest of the healthcare team all play important roles in providing care. A comprehensive assessment should be performed when any significant change occurs in the patient's physical or cognitive state.

7. What are the best tips for providing care for a person with Alzheimer's disease?

  • Plan for daily care by having routines and schedules for sleeping, eating and daily activities.
  • Allow plenty of time for daily tasks to avoid frustration for you and the person with AD.
  • Help the person with AD to use the toilet regularly.
  • Anticipate needs such as being hungry, thirsty or tired.
  • Adapt daily tasks, modify previous hobbies, and provide mentally stimulating activities that both you and a person with AD can enjoy together.
  • Create a calm environment by limiting distractions, reducing loud noises, music or talking, keeping items used regularly in familiar places, clearing counters, hallways, and bathrooms from clutter.
  • Be flexible and remember that a person with Alzheimer's disease may have varying levels of ability from day to day or even from hour to hour. Adjusting your expectations to match their abilities will make caregiving easier for both of you.
  • Take time for yourself as a caregiver. Connect with friends and family, take breaks from caregiving, and have outlets to express your feelings. This will reduce your daily stress and make you a better caregiver for the days to come.
  • Learn as much as you can about the disease.

8. Covid Visitation Policy

We encourage residents to have family and friends visit frequently. However, guest
visits are subject to certain policies intended to protect all Residents’ quiet enjoyment of the Community and to assure that one Resident’s guests do not unduly burden other residents or interfere with the Community’s programs. These policies include:

  • It is our policy to comply fully with the “No Patient Left Alone Act” and our visitation policy does not limit visitation hours, visit duration, or number of visitors. Residents may receive guests regardless of immunization status and may have consensual physical contact with them. In-person visitation is encouraged anytime the resident requests it, particularly in end-of-life situations, difficult or stressful situations, at times requiring health decisions or medical assistance, and/or in case of change in condition or behavior.
  • All guests must sign in and out at the front entrance when entering or leaving the Community.
  • For the protection of all the community’s Residents and staff, all guests must be free of contagious disease and must not demonstrate any symptoms of disease. Guests are asked to follow basic infection control hygiene practices and are given the opportunity to wash and/or sanitize their hands; masks are available upon request. We request that guests participate in a brief infection control screening and that, if possible, that guests delay their visit to Generations if they have reason to believe that they have a contagious disease or if they have been exposed to the same.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult who is capable of supervising them at all times.
  • Your guests are encouraged to accompany you to activities at the Community and to participate in those activities provided that you (or your guests) pay any applicable fee for the activity.
  • For their protection, your guests may not enter any rooms or other areas (such as garage) where other Residents are not allowed access. Likewise, your guest shall not enter other Residents’ rooms, and shall not be permitted to bathe or shower at the Community.
  • Guest are not permitted to stay overnight in your room. Your guests may not live in your room while you are absent from the Community.
  • Laundry facilities at the Community are for the use of Staff only. If your guest requires laundry services, please contact our Administrator. Laundry services will be provided to guests for a fee.
  • Your guests are welcome to accompany you to meals at the Community; however, we request that you give the Administrator at least two (2) hours’ notice of guest meals. (Greater notice may be required for large parties, holiday meals and special events.) We ask that if you are hosting a large party that you be responsible for the food costs and preparation.
  • All guests must conduct themselves in a manner that does not jeopardize the health or safety of others at the Community or interfere with their quiet enjoyment of the premises. If the Community determines, in its sole discretion, that any guest does not meet these requirements, that person will be required to leave the premises immediately. Depending on the circumstances, the Community may also contact the local law enforcement agency. Because many of our residents prepare for bed at approx. 8 PM and we need to ensure their dignity, privacy and their rights to peace and quiet for sleeping, we recommend that visiting hours take place between 9 AM and 9 PM (“Visitation Hours”). Visitation request outside of the Visitation Hours should be made to the Administrator; the Community shall make provisions to extend visiting hours for caregivers and out-of-town guests, and in other similar situations whenever possible, possibly at a cost to the resident if additional staffing or overtime is required as a result.
  • The Administrator is responsible for staff training, education, and adherence to
    these visitation policies and procedures.

Bridgport Senior Living Visitation Guidelines are intended to comply with Florida Statutes 408.823 In-person visitation, and in any case where a visitation practice or policy is not in compliance with Florida Statutes 408.823 or other applicable regulation, such practice will be amended so as to comply