Human beings age throughout their lifetime. However, around age 60 if you are going by the US Census or 65 if you are going by Medicare guidelines, people are officially considered seniors. While the later years of life are often referred to as ‘the Golden Years’, the experience is very different for individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Never the less, many Alzheimer’s sufferers still fall into the senior citizen category, which means that their body continues to undergo physical changes. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, here are a few things to keep in mind about their overall health:
Body Composition and Importance of Exercise
Physically, humans lose some ten percent of their water composition while their fat composition increases. Meanwhile, changes in stomach acid secretion, as well as kidney and liver function, lead to a longer digestion and an increased risk of drug side-effects. For patients who are ill, muscle atrophy, weight gain and associated conditions such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension can also become an issue. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your loved one is eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and that they are getting regular exercise.
There is a degree of normal hearing, smell and vision loss that happens with age. This happens gradually over time and your loved one’s doctor can often explain the process and what to expect. However, any sudden loss of any senses is not normal and should warrant immediate medical attention.
Impact of Medications
Because of changes in physiology, the elderly in general are at an increased risk of side effects and negative interactions with medications. With Alzheimer’s patients, this is even more important because these patients are often forgetful of medications and are at a higher risk of taking a medication twice, which carries a higher risk of overdose simply due to their age. As a caretaker, it is important to be vigilant about your loved one’s medications to ensure proper dosage. It is also important to inform the doctor of all medications taken by your loved one-including natural supplements.
As you provide care for a loved one, keep physical changes in mind to keep them in good health. Caring for a loved one is Alzheimer’s or Dementia isn’t easy, but help is available in the form of caretakers, medical professionals, and support groups.