Alzheimer's is a common disease and most common form of dementia in Germany, with about 1.2 million patients. Each year 200,000 people are diagnosed with a previously incurable disease.
The biggest risk factor is age. Accordingly, knowledge of Alzheimer's disease in the elderly is significantly higher than in the younger population. 56 percent of people over 60, but only 32 percent under 30, feel that they know Alzheimer's well or very well.
The opposite, according to DAK Health Insurance Research, is every other fear of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. For older people (58 percent), this concern is particularly pronounced.
In case of memory problems, prepare a doctor visit
Anyone who notices memory impairment should definitely consult a doctor. It is important to clarify early and expertly what triggers forgetfulness, to treat possible causes, or to start therapy in time for Alzheimer's.
It is not easy for many people to talk to their doctor about their symptoms, especially since the time is usually short. Here the preparation can help. It is very helpful to establish a list of symptoms before your visit. Symptoms can be physical, such as pain or fever. But they can also be of psychological origin and concern thoughts and feelings.
What questions should I focus on?
The following questions may help you talk to your doctor:
– What are the complaints?
– When did the complaints start?
– At what time of the day do symptoms appear and how long do they last?
– How often do complaints arise?
– What improves or worsens the condition?
– How restrictive are complaints in everyday life?
In addition, the attending physician must know what medications are being taken. They also include prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as vitamins or eye drops. It is advisable to write or bring a medicine.
It is also a good idea to ask a family member or friend for help. If there are problems with German, it makes sense to bring in someone who knows how to translate.
Adapt the living space to the needs
Alzheimer's disease brings many challenges – for both the patient and his or her relatives. Reduced memory, impaired daily ability, and an increasing urge to move can also lead to dangerous situations in one's own four walls.
It is therefore advisable to adapt the living space to the needs of the patient so that he or she can live in a safe environment without harming himself or endangering others. The nonprofit Alzheimer's Research Initiative, e.V. (AFI) provides advice in its guide "Living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's."
Alzheimer's patients should have sufficient space to move around in their home. Dangers such as high carpets or electrical cables on the floor should be avoided. Safety on the stairs can be increased by marking the stairs with a yellow bar or by installing an additional handrail.
Running away is a common practice
Common behavior in people with Alzheimer's disease is escaping. Being disturbed early on, it is dangerous for the patient to be alone on the road. Baby handles and safety mats in front of the door can help. It may also make sense to hide the door – for example, by painting a bookshelf.
In the bathroom, rubber mats or sliding straps on the floor of the shower or tub prevent the fall, as do wall handles. A chair or chair in the shower provides additional security. By marking the tap – red for hot, blue for cold – and hot water temperatures of less than 45 degrees can prevent burning. An elevated toilet seat can facilitate bowel movements.
The following applies to the kitchen: Knives, scissors, and other utensils that can be dangerous should be closed. The handles of the pots and pans can be rotated at the back of the stove. An alarm and fire extinguisher provide additional protection.
Appropriate costs for so-called home improvement measures can be subsidized by providing long-term care. However, there must be some care for this. Custom made up to 4,000 euros are then available. AFI / II
The "Alzheimer's Diagnosis Procedures – Medical Tests at a Glance" booklet and the "Alzheimer's Diagnosis" guide can be ordered free of charge from the Alzheimer Forschung Initiative, e.g., Kreuzstr. 34, 40210 Dusseldorf; Phone Number (0211) 86 20 660; Websites www.alzheimer-forschung.de/diagnoseverfahren and www.alzheimer-forschung.de/leben-mit-alzheimer