The Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects a person’s memory, communication, word-finding, and behavior. Additionally, it has negative impacts on the physical abilities and functioning of people. Alzheimer’s is the commonest origin of dementia which generalizes memory loss and other intellectual abilities in a serious way that is adequate to interfere with the daily lives of people. AD is not a usual part of growing old, but age is the highest known risk element because a majority of people with the disorders are above 65 years of age. However, even much younger people are at risk of contracting the illness. Currently, the disorder does not have a cure but treatments for the symptoms are available in the healthcare facilities, and research into the disease continues. The current treatments available for the disorder cannot stop it from progressing, but they can slow the worsening of its symptoms and improve the life quality for both the patients and their caregivers. Alzheimer’s has negative impacts on functions such as walking, using arms, and other corporeal aspects of life.
In the early stages of developing AD, a person’s physical ability remains intact. It is common for individuals with dementia to walk for more than a mile and appear like they are functioning normally. In the early stages, it is difficult to determine that a person has dementia disorder by assessing their physical traits. Indeed, it is likely to appear that there is nothing wrong with them at all. As the disorder progresses to the middle stages, there is a decline in the physical abilities of the patients (Paillard, Rolland & de Souto Barreto, 2015). At this time, the brain starts to forget the manner in which to make muscles work to feed oneself and walk. In this way, patients start experiencing physical difficulties at this stage in life. There is also a decline in the physical ability of people to hold urine and control bowel movements because the mental ability to interpret the signals of the body is highly suppressed.
In the advanced stages of the disorder, the physical ability of the patients is highly compromised. Both walking and range of motion are adversely affected, and patients can barely move from one point to another without being accorded physical exercise. A majority of people at this stage require to be fed by caregivers, and some of them develop difficulties in swallowing and could be choked in the process of feeding (Smith et al., 2014). There could be the development of contractures, where limbs are bent too far to be straightened out because the individuals are not using the muscles enough. The continued physical disabilities of people with the Alzheimer’s disease make their loved ones and caregivers to make end-of-life decisions regarding the patients.
People living with Alzheimer’s disease do not get out of touch with their spiritual awareness. Their values, beliefs, norms, and practices remain important to them regardless of their mental disorders. Indeed, spirituality is a vital coping aspect for the older generations of people living with the disorder. There are different beneficial associations of spiritual coping to enhanced health and emotional well-being of the patients. Spirituality comes as an intangible multifaceted concept which is difficult to define because of its subjective nature (Hodge & Sun, 2012). It assists the patients to have an easier acceptance of their status of living with the disorder. Spiritual connections that people have assist them in suppressing their cognitive decline and helping in the prevention of severe memory loss among the patients. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, there is a connection between mental and cognitive vitality acquired from spirituality to a limited progression of the Alzheimer’s disease (Hodge & Sun, 2012). The foundation found that the patients engaged in religious activities are 36 percent less likely to go through memory loss as compared to the ones who fail to engage in such activities.
The rationale for these findings encompasses both spiritual and scientific evidence. It is probable that religious demeanor is often highly routine-oriented and familiar to the patients. This has proven to be important for the people having Alzheimer’s disease by enhancing the memory centers of their brains (Hodge & Sun, 2012). Additionally, the people who enjoy spiritual activities are likely to feel better afterward, hence decreasing the amount of cortisol, a stressing chemical which damages the memory centers of the brain, released into the body of the patient. The other rationale is that spirituality comes with the impact of making people happier in normal societal situations (Hodge & Sun, 2012). It improves the mental health of the people and encourages a positive display of personality despite times being hard for people. Such an effect improves the quality of life and the desire that people have to remain as healthy as they possibly can.
As a measure of managing the situation, it is important to care for the spirit of a person with the AD. In the initial phases of dementia, patients are still cognizant of the impacts of spirituality and acknowledge its association with their well-being. Nonetheless, as the disorder progresses into more advanced stages, it becomes harder for the patients to take part in spiritual activities as it has been their norm in good health (Hodge & Sun, 2012). For instance, if an individual, cannot drive as a result of the disorder, he or she may be unable to access the church or mosque for religious purposes. Caregivers can help people with dementia to enjoy their spiritual connection by reading their spiritual teachings to them. At times, the older people with the Alzheimer’s disease are still in a position to recite favorite spiritual anthems and phrases that they had memorized in the previous years. Playing or singing the patients’ favorite spiritual songs as a form of music therapy goes a long way in assisting the patients to connect with their spirituality (Hodge & Sun, 2012). Where caregivers are not aware of the patients’ favorite spiritual approaches, they need to take time to learn them in the initial phases of the disease. In this way, it becomes possible to assist them spiritually in the more advanced stages of the illness.
People with Alzheimer’s disorder tend to experience changes in their emotional responses. They are likely to have less control over their emotions and the manner in which they express themselves. Patients could have feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. People with the disorder often showcase the demeanor of aggression, wandering, and other forms of behavioral inconsistencies. Such changes are a result of the emotions that arise from the cognitive difficulties that people with the disorder experience (Goodkind et al., 2010). On the other hand, they could feel joyful and serene and having the capacity to live the moment. They can forget about the negativity in life and just view situations casually without the consideration of certain factors.
The changes in the behavior of people with the disorder are often hard for caregivers to withstand. Rather than trying to bring the patients back to reality, family members and caregivers are advised to emphasize and create an emotional connection with them. It is the only way that it will be possible to manage their situations in the long run (Cardinali, Furio & Brusco, 2010). Caregivers and other people around people with the Alzheimer’s disease are supposed to avoid belittling comments and harsh criticism on the patients. On the contrary, the former should offer plenty of encouragement and celebrate successes as well as focus on the positives of the patients. When people with dementia make a mistake, it is vital to be as supportive as possible because it goes a long way in ensuring that they find a purpose in life (Cardinali, Furio & Brusco, 2010). In totality, the Alzheimer’s disease comes with emotional instability on the side of the patients both in the positive and negative respects.
Mild Cognitive impairment (MCI) is deemed as an intermediate phase between regular growing old and dementia, more so the Alzheimer’s disorder. The traditional abstractions of MCI were more inclined towards memory impairments with the focus on irregular verbal memory scores. MCI causes cognizant changes which are adequately serious to be noticed by individuals experiencing them or to other persons (Chandrasekaran et al., 2016). However, the changes are not so severe to interfere with the independent functioning of people and their daily lives. People with MCI more so involving memory issues could develop the Alzheimer’s disorder or other forms of dementia as compared to other people without the impairments. However, the impairments do not always result in the Alzheimer’s disease. In some people, they revert to regular cognition and stable states of mind (Chandrasekaran et al., 2016). However, in other cases, like when medication results in the impairment of cognition, MCI could be diagnosed mistakenly. For this reason; it is important that individuals experiencing cognitive impairments seek medical attention soonest possible for diagnosis and probable eventual treatment.
The neurocognitive reserve is likely to impact on the manner in which the Alzheimer’s disease and brain cognitive relate. The concept of neurocognitive reserve postulates that enhancing the brain connectivity and structure through physical and cognitive activities could assist in compensating for pathological insult on the brain. Cognitive activities modify amyloid depositions instead of just compensating for their existence (Wilson et al., 2012). For old people with suppressed cognitive activities, they are likely to have amyloid signal profiles that resemble the Alzheimer’s disease. In totality, the neurological aspect of the Alzheimer’s disease suggests that the disorder is closely associated with and characterized by a suppressed cognitive state of mind on the side of the patients.
The Alzheimer’s disease has different aspects of life that it affects in the lives of both the patients and the caregivers. The Alzheimer’s disease affects the physical aspects of human life progressively from mild to severe as it progresses. Highly affected persons experience physical inactivity in totality. People with Alzheimer’s disease are affected negatively spiritually, but family members and caregivers can manage the situation by offering care for the patients. Individuals with the Alzheimer’s disease experience emotional instability and behavioral inconsistent because they lose touch with the real state of affairs in their environments. The neurological aspects of the disorder suggest that it is highly associated with the impairment of the brain and its inability to have high levels of cognitive activities.