What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

senior couple sitting looking at old wedding photo

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a term that refers to a range of symptoms related to memory loss and cognitive impairment that are severe enough to interfere with daily living. Of those individuals diagnosed with dementia, 60-80% have Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that the disease affects more than 6 million Americans.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that affects cognitive function, memory, and behavior.

It begins with toxic changes in the brain, starting up to a decade or even more before any symptoms emerge. Abnormal buildups of microscopic proteins in the brain, called amyloid plaques, accumulate in the spaces between nerve cells, damaging neurons. These plaques tend to initially appear in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, areas of the brain concerned with memory and cognitive function. Over time, they begin to interfere with a person’s ability to think and remember.

As the disease progresses, healthy neurons stop functioning, drop their connections with other neurons, and die. Other parts of the brain are also affected by the damage and begin to lose tissue and shrink. The damage to the brain eventually becomes widespread, impacting nearly all of its functions.

The progression of Alzheimer’s takes years, so for most people the decline in thinking, memory, behavior, and social skills is gradual. In its later stages, patients lose their ability to look after their affairs and even carry out the simple tasks required for day-to-day living. Caregivers, often family members, find themselves increasingly overburdened. When the level of care required for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease is greater than what can be provided at home, a communal living environment is often the most appropriate choice. These communal living environments are called Memory Care communities. Because cognitive decline happens over time, it’s ideal to transition the individual to a Memory Care community in the early stages of the disease, to allow them time to adjust. Increasing levels of care can be supported as the disease progresses.

The Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)need around-the-clock care, such as assistance with bathing andeating or help with activities like getting to medical appointments. Asthe disease progresses, they may experience incontinence, startwandering off and getting lost, or lash out with negative emotionalexpressions and behave aggressively towards the people aroundthem. In these situations, a Memory Care community where there aremultiple caregivers specifically trained to support these changes, maybe the safest option for the individual living with Alzheimer’s and theirfamilies.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may reach a point when they need around-the-clock care, such as assistance with bathing and eating or help with activities like getting to medical appointments. As the disease progresses, they may experience incontinence, start wandering off and getting lost, or lash out with negative emotional expressions and behave aggressively towards the people around them. In these situations, a Memory Care community where there are multiple caregivers specifically trained to support these changes, may be the safest option for the individual living with Alzheimer’s and their families.

Specialized Care for Individuals With Alzheimer’s Disease

Making the decision to explore a senior living community that provides specialized memory care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult.


At Experience Senior Living, we’re committed to providing the care and services that help individuals maintain their independence and dignity. Our Memory Care communities offer intimate gathering spaces, abundant natural light, and easily accessible outdoor spaces to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort that can help ease agitation and anxiety. Our Memory Care programs provide specialized care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, centered around celebrating the abilities of our memory care residents.

Do you have a family member or loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia? Contact a member of the Experience Senior Living team to discuss your specific needs and receive information tailored to your situation. You can reach out to us online, or call us directly at (855) 204-5375 to speak to one of our team members.

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