These summaries and related resources will help you understand some of the primary diseases that people may encounter as they grow older and current approaches for dealing with them.
In-home care is available for people with any of these conditions, as well as for those who require hospice care.
Studies show that most people want to continue living at home as they age and doing so can greatly enhance your mental and physical well-being.
For a wealth of information about aging in place, visit the National Aging in Place Council website: http://www.ageinplace.org.
Dementia is a loss of mental skills that causes you to be unable to think clearly. It can cause problems with memory, understanding and ability to plan. Dementia usually becomes worse over time. The progress of the illness is different for each person. Some people remain the same for years, while others lose skills quickly.
Your chances of having dementia increase as you get older, but not everyone will get it. By age 85, about 35 out of 100 people have some form of dementia. That means that 65 out of 100 do not have it. Dementia is rare before age 60.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that damages the brain. It causes a steady loss of memory and the ability to speak, think and handle daily activities effectively. Alzheimer’s always grows worse over time, but how quickly this happens varies. Some people lose the ability to handle daily activities early. Others may do fairly well until much later in the disease.
Mild memory loss is common in people older than 60 and may not mean that you have Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s can strike in a person’s 40s or 50s. See the article below about University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, Pat Summit, who announced that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 59.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that affects the way you move. It occurs when there is a problem with certain nerve cells in the brain that make a chemical called dopamine.
Dopamine sends signals to the part of your brain that controls movement, enabling your muscles to move smoothly and do what you want them to do. Parkinson’s occurs when the nerve cells that produce dopamine break down and you no longer have enough dopamine to control how you move.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, but it usually gets worse slowly over many years –– and good treatments exist that can help you continue to lead a full life.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain is blocked or bursts. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the brain begins to die. As a result, the part of the body that the damaged area of the brain controls cannot work properly.
Stroke symptoms occur quickly. You may suddenly experience:
Hospice is a type and philosophy of care that focuses on easing the symptoms and pain of the terminally ill rather than on curing the underlying disease. It includes medical services, emotional support and spiritual resources for people in the last stages of a serious illness such as cancer or advanced heart disease.
Hospice care also helps the patient’s family members handle the emotional challenges and practical details of caring for a dying loved one.
Hospice treatment is not intended to speed or prolong the dying process. Its goal is to enhance the quality and comfort of the patient’s remaining life in a nurturing environment with family and friends.