Managing the Physical Impacts of Alzheimer’s Disease

Old man with cognitive disease known as Alzheimer's
  • Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disorder causing memory loss, behavioral changes, and physical abilities.
  • Alzheimer’s physical impacts include loss of motor skills, vision decline, appetite changes, sleep disorders, and incontinence.
  • Vision impairments from Alzheimer’s, such as hallucinations or abnormal blood vessel growth, can lead to blindness.
  • Changes in eating habits, taste buds, and selected food favoring are among Alzheimer’s physical effects.
  • Management of Alzheimer’s physical effects includes professional help, prescribed treatment plans, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that affects the brain, leading to memory loss, changes in personality, and other cognitive issues. However, it’s not just your mental wellness that Alzheimer’s can impact – it can also lead to physical changes in your body.

Many people assume that Alzheimer’s Disease only affects the brain and that any physical changes that come with the disease are just a part of getting older. But the truth is that Alzheimer’s can even impact your body and physical capabilities in significant ways. Here’s what you need to know about Alzheimer’s, how it can affect your body, and ways you can live an everyday life while having the disease.

What is Alzheimer’s?

First, you must understand the basics of Alzheimer’s Disease. This disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the brain in multiple ways. It causes memory loss and changes in behavior due to a gradual decline of the neurons in the brain. Eventually, it can lead to issues with communication, decision-making, and other cognitive functions.

The physical changes associated with Alzheimer’s are often less known but can be just as debilitating. Over time, these changes can lead to reduced mobility and balance issues, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

How Does Alzheimer’s Affect Your Body?

Alzheimer’s affects the body in several ways. Here are some of those ways:

Old man in pain

1. Loss of Motor Skills

One of the ways Alzheimer’s can affect the body is through the loss of motor skills. This can make simple tasks like brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and walking much more challenging. As the disease progresses, cognitive and physical issues make it more and more difficult to handle daily activities.

Loss of motor skills also increases a person’s vulnerability to accidents, falls, and other injuries. If you notice an older person who has loved ones with Alzheimer’s showing signs of difficulties with movement and coordination, it is essential to consult a doctor immediately.

2. Decline in Vision

Alzheimer’s can affect a person’s vision in different ways. Some people start seeing hallucinations, images, or objects that aren’t there, while others experience impaired vision, including neovascularization. Neovascularization is a condition that leads to abnormal blood vessel growth on the retina, leading to blindness or a decline in vision.

If a parent or grandparent suddenly develops visual challenges, consult a medical professional to get the required diagnosis and treatment.

3. Changes in Appetite

Another physical effect of Alzheimer’s is a change in appetite or eating habits. Alzheimer’s can dull taste buds and sense of smell, making it difficult for a person to enjoy their favorite foods. At the same time, they may favor sweet or salty foods and nontraditional items such as paper, moldy food items, etc.

As the disease progresses, eating difficulties like choking can arise, affecting the person’s overall well-being. Aging individuals who experience these changes should receive care from a qualified healthcare professional to manage and address those issues.

4. Sleep Disorders

Alzheimer’s sufferers tend not to experience deep or restful sleep, leading to insomnia, consistently waking up in the middle of the night, or oversleeping. Sleep disturbances can worsen the cognitive and emotional challenges of Alzheimer’s. In addition, the lack of quality sleep can further influence physical changes like weakened muscles and irregular metabolism.

When combating Alzheimer’s effects on the body, caregivers must ensure that the clients under their care get sufficient and quality sleep every night.

5. Incontinence

Incontinence, or the involuntary discharge of urine and feces, is usually associated with Alzheimer’s. This happens when the brain has trouble sending signals telling the body when to urinate or defecate.

It can be challenging for people with this physical effect, so caregivers must ensure they are cared for properly. Incontinence requires special attention as it can lead to skin lesions, infections, and unsanitary living conditions.

Living with Alzheimer’s

Living with Alzheimer’s is not easy, but there are things you can do to manage the physical effects of the disease. Here are some ways:

Look For SIL Vacancies

You must first look for professional help if your Alzheimer’s is getting worse. Supported independent living homes can provide your needs while giving you the independence to do anything. You can look for local SIL vacancies that can accommodate your needs. You can schedule a tour and discuss possible treatments.

Old couple dancing at home

Follow a Treatment Plan

Another way to manage the physical effects of Alzheimer’s Disease is by following a treatment plan prescribed by a medical professional. This usually includes medication, occupational or physical therapy, and lifestyle changes such as eating healthier foods and getting enough sleep.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is essential for Alzheimer’s patients to maintain physical health and improve mental clarity. Regular exercise, such as walking or light jogging, can help with muscle strength, balance, coordination, and overall flexibility. Exercise can also help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep helps the body recover while increasing energy levels during the day. It is essential for those with Alzheimer’s, as poor sleep can worsen the effects of the disease. Create a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it each night for better quality sleep.

Living with Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be difficult if you take the necessary steps to manage the physical effects of the disease. It is vital to keep up with treatments, lifestyle changes, and proper care to ensure that you or your loved one will live a high-quality life despite the limitations.

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