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5258830A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating to a senior and his or her family, but the sooner it is discovered and accepted, the smoother the experience will go as far as planning for change and treating the progressive condition. November was National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, so we are taking a closer look at it.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), symptoms develop slowly and get worse over time. These symptoms include forgetting previously learned information such as important dates or the names of family members. The senior may also lose track of where they are, how they got there and how to get home. When the disease becomes serious enough to interfere with daily life, the senior relies on a caregiver to assist with activities.

While the majority of people with the form of dementia are 65 or older, up to 5 percent of people face the early onset in their 40s or 50s. Actress Julianne Moore won the Best Actress role in the 2015 Oscars portraying a woman whose family bonds are tested when she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. AA states the condition is the sixth leading cause of death in America.

Because some of the symptoms can be attributed to temporary or age-related changes, it’s important to seek a medical diagnosis from a family doctor or specialist to confirm the onset of dementia. In the early stages of the disease, there’s an opportunity for the affected senior and his or her family to make preparations for the future that include pre-planning documentation for family and caregivers so there’s no confusion regarding important documents, account numbers and clearly-stated wishes in the future event of serious illness or death.

Because late-stage Alzheimer’s typically ends the ability to carry on conversations, power of attorney should be pre-arranged for grown children to use as needed. Those with Alzheimer’s can survive between four to 20 years depending on age and other health conditions, according to AA. It’s critical the seniors spend this time in an environment dedicated to their dignity and well-being.

Regency Retirement Village offers Birmingham seniors Regency Reflections, our Memory Care Retirement Neighborhood, where our extensively-trained staff carries out a personalized program of care and support.

By providing state-of-the-art Discovery Stations, our residents enjoy the tranquillity of 1950’s music from our juke box, remembering songs from their past. Our safety-enhanced workshop features a replica gas station that allows them to use their hands and stimulate their minds. Our specially-trained Life Enrichment Coordinator provides a variety of activities throughout the day in a home-like environment.

For more information on Regency Reflections, call (205) 942-3355. For information and resources from the Alzheimer’s Association Alabama/Florida Panhandle Chapter, visit http://www.alz.org/ALFL/