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3041445662_324c0e283dOne of the most difficult experiences a family goes through is coping with a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

Scientists believe it is caused by a buildup of plaque on and twisting of nerve cells in the human brain, affecting memory, personality and behavior. It typically begins very gradually and progressively worsens with time, yet there are treatment options.

When a doctor diagnoses Alzheimer’s, hard choices must be made, including how to handle the senior’s finances and legal situation. They must hand these affairs over to a loved one who has their best interest in mind.

One of the toughest adjustments is going from self-reliance to depending on caregivers to remind them to take medications, eat regularly, keep doctor’s appointments and even take a bath. Without a structured routine that someone helps the senior follow, it’s all too easy to get distracted and confused.

If the person with dementia relies on family members to be primary caregivers, enormous sacrifices must be made because it can be dangerous to leave seniors with Alzheimer’s alone to age in place. In a confused condition, they may wander off or be overly trusting of telemarketers. All the more tragic, those afflicted with dementia may act uncharacteristically, demanding to know who their own children are, etc.

Here in Morristown, Regency operates a special unit for those with Alzheimer’s and other memory related disorders. We call it the Renaissance Centre.

It is staffed with people specially trained to offer compassionate care and support. We listen to the resident’s family to learn as much as we can about them so the treatment can be personalized for the situation. It is a great honor to earn this trust because we know that loved ones are the most important things in our lives.

Part of what Renaissance Centre does is provide a simple environment with a structured routine so the resident with memory impairments is less confused and receives the needed services, whether it be three healthy meals a day and snacks or laundry service or help with dressing and grooming. These activities preserve the senior’s dignity and quality of life as much as possible.

The Renaissance Centre offers a safe, secure environment, complete with an enclosed outdoor courtyard.

Further reading:

Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alz.org/
The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
Alzheimer’s Reading Room: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/
The New York Times “New Old Age” Blog: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/