The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s and Stress
Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease by Canadians as we age and it is no wonder that this creates a great deal of stress for many of us.
“We take care of our prostate better than our brain. It’s one thing to lose control of your bowels and it’s another thing to lose control of your identity. Those are pretty profound differences and that’s what scares people so much,” said Richard Taylor, Ph.D., author of Alzheimer’s from the INSIDE OUT.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and accounts for 50-60% of all cases. It is caused by abnormal brain tissue changes. It is a progressive, degenerative brain syndrome that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion.
Alzheimer’s and Stress Is A Global Health Issue.
1 in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 currently has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Women represent 72% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide there are an estimated 35.6 million people with dementia. By 2050 the number will rise to over 115 million.
Myths of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s and Stress Myth #1: Because someone in my family has Alzheimer’s disease, I’m going to get it. Click to tweet
Although genetics play a role in the disease, only about 7% of cases are associated with genes that cause the early onset inherited familial form of the disease.
Myth #2: Memory loss means Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people have trouble with their memory, but that does not mean they have Alzheimer’s disease.
Myth #3: Stress does not play a role in Alzheimer’s
Can stress make dementia symptoms worse? Yes. Stress hormones appear to rapidly exacerbate the formation of brain lesions that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, and stress can make dementia symptoms more severe.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms: Ten early symptoms of dementia:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty in performing everyday tasks
- Problems with language
- Disorientation to time and place
- Poor or decreased judgment
- Problems with keeping track of things
- Misplacing things
- Changes in mood or behaviour
- Changes in personality
- Loss of initiative
When memory loss affects day-to-day function and is coupled with lack of judgment and reasoning, or changes in communication abilities, it’s best to take this seriously and visit a doctor to determine the cause of the symptoms.
To know more about these symptoms visit: Alzheimers.ca
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Building Resilience During World Alzheimer’s Day:
- Many people see the early symptoms of dementia as a normal consequence of aging and do not come forward for the help. Be aware of the symptoms and get help early.
- Information and education empowers people to understand what is happening to them and their loved one and how to cope better with the Alzheimer’s and stress. Check out the Alzheimer’s website at http://alzheimer.ca
- Research has shown that most people with dementia live in their own homes and are cared for by a female caregiver usually a spouse or daughter and that caring is associated with substantial psychological and financial stress. (Int J Geriatric Psychiatry 2004 19 170-177). If you are a caregiver, make sure that you take care of yourself first, that you have balance in your life and that you reach out for support.
- A break from caring is essential in learning how to build resilience. Respite can be achieved informally by arranging for the person with dementia to stay with relatives or friends or formally through services such as daycare and short stays in residential units.
- Support groups provide an opportunity to share experiences and feelings. Professional counseling has been shown to be effective in improving morale, building resiliency and decreasing feelings of stress.
Contact Beverly about hosting a mental health workshop for your teams on how to build resilience. Learn relaxation strategies, and discover coping tips to deal with stress, change and crisis!
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!