About Memory Loss
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory – similar to heart disease – which covers a variety of particular conditions. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, followed by vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly damages and ultimately destroys brain cells, leading to the loss of memory, thinking skills and even the ability to carry out simple daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is not part of the normal aging process. It develops gradually over time and progressively gets worse. Alzheimer’s is eventually fatal and, presently, there are no treatments that cure the disease.
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Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory loss that persists and worsens over time is the fundamental symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. A person with Alzheimer’s may make poor judgments or decisions that are uncharacteristic of them. The disease can also impact a person’s thinking, reasoning and ability to plan and perform even familiar tasks over time. Changes in personality and behavior can also occur, including symptoms such as depression, social withdrawal, distrust, changes in sleeping habits, wandering and more.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown. Two proteins in the brain, plaques and tangles, begin to function abnormally, leading to damaged neurons and eventually cell death.
Vascular dementia occurs due to microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain.
Lewy body dementia is characterized by the abnormal buildup of proteins known as Lewy bodies, named for the scientist who discovered them. This protein is also associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Most experts agree that dementia is a result of multiple genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors over a long period of time. The greatest risk factors are age, family history and genetics.
The Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, changes in memory and cognitive abilities may not be widely noticeable, but close family and friends may pick up on problems. Common difficulties in the early stages may include forgetfulness of recent events, difficulty in handling finances and paying bills, or simply taking longer to complete daily activities.
People with Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages may have trouble coming up with the right word, be forgetful about recent events or lose items and be unable to retrace their steps. They may experience mood or personality changes, especially during socially challenging situations.
The middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease generally last the longest. Damage to the brain is more widespread in the middle stages and affects areas that are responsible for language, reasoning, sensory processing and conscious thought. Gaps in memory and confusion are noticeable, and individuals may require help completing daily tasks.
Those in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease may become confused about what day of the week it is or what time it is. They may begin to have trouble recognizing family and friends or be forgetful of their personal history. Some may need help dressing appropriately for the season or occasion. Individuals may experience changes in sleep patterns. Personality and behavioral changes, such as suspiciousness, repetitive behaviors or wandering, may become more pronounced.
By the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the brain is damaged extensively and symptoms are severe. Individuals in these stages are mostly or completely dependent upon others for their daily activities, such as eating and self-care. They may experience significant personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions.
In the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, individuals cannot communicate appropriately and lose awareness of or ability to react to the environment. Eventually, they may lose the ability to control their movements.
"To my great relief and joy, [my father’s] quality of life vastly improved when he moved to Bridges. My father is cared for so beautifully here – not only his physical needs, but also socially and emotionally. The staff has really gotten to know him as an individual, and I even feel supported and welcomed as a partner in his care. The staff members are so warm and dedicated. The communication is great. My dad enjoys the food! The daily scheduled activities are engaging and keep him busy and even trying new things. His favorite activities are the wonderful musicians, the outings to lunch, coffee or ice cream, and the therapy doggies."
Zoe, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"My mother lived there for about eight months, and during that time she was treated with gentle kindness, respect, and loving care. As her memory continued to fail, the staff was sweet and very attentive to her. Mom benefited greatly from their daily care, and I was always treated so thoughtfully whenever I came to visit her. The nursing staff was always helpful in answering my questions and attending to my requests. They took a real interest in my mom and met her changing needs immediately. Her care providers showed genuine love and appreciation for her, and for that and all described above, I am truly grateful."
Cindy, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"Placing a loved one in memory care is never an easy decision. As I considered places for my mom, I had lots of questions. Bridges stood out right from the beginning of my process as they are an organization that shows FAMILIES the kindness and care they show their residents. They assisted me in all steps of the process with transparency and patience as I weighed various options. Sure enough, once Mom moved in, kindness just abounds. Excellent staff, wonderful routine of activities, cozy "neighborhoods" where Mom feels safe and cared for. There is real joy in this place! Bridges knows dementia and applies best practices to the care of their residents."
Cheryl, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"It is a unique place full of warmth, concern, care and healing that goes beyond “assisted living.” The staff not only cares about the residents, but truly also the families. The entire staff in all areas is supportive in every way. The actual name reflects it all – Bridges. The staff really did build a bridge for my father between us all to make his transition comfortable, safe and healing. They took the time to understand and know him as a new resident with his needs and preferences. Also, to know our family (and dog). To address and resolve any issue great or small to us or him."
E., Family of Bridges® Resident
"My dad has been at Bridges for nearly 3 years, and we have been so unbelievably happy with all facets of the community. The staff are wonderful – they go above and beyond with all that they do. They have nurses who keep you informed at all hours of the day/night and even have medical providers that come in to see patients so that the family doesn’t have to struggle to take their loved one out to appointments. There has never been a question or concern that has gone unanswered. "
Barbara, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"My mother was a resident here and was cared for by angels. The staff is unparalleled — patient, thoughtful, sweet, fun, calm, caring, making so many extra efforts — always. They made a difficult time special, soulful, and joy-filled. My mum passed away more than a year ago and I still stop by to visit; the people still feel like family and the place feels soothing, happy, and like home."
Emily, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"My sister spent the last 3 1/2 years of her life at Bridges. When she first got there, she was pretty fearful and negative, but after only a week or two she was very happy there – thanks to the great facility, all the activities, and particularly the loving and talented staff. In fact, her stay at Bridges was one of the happiest periods of her life – even despite the Covid quarantine. The staff there is simply the best!"
Jim, Brother of Bridges® Resident
"Our family had been taking care of [my husband] at home with multiple caretakers. We thought ok this is working; of course, we had no comparison. A friend suggested we look at Bridges; almost one year later we know we made the right decision. The facility is lovely, the food is great, and the staff is working hard taking care of so many. My husband is thriving at Bridges. He enjoys never-ending social activities. He is never in his apartment, always roaming around (safely) socializing with other residents and enjoying all the well-planned activities and entertainment."
Kathy, Wife of Bridges® Resident
"5 STARS is not enough. Our mother was at Bridges for 13 months until she passed away, one week shy of her 100th birthday. Everyone treated her and us as family. The care and love everyone showed her was beyond what we could ever imagine. We always felt comfortable leaving after our visits knowing she was being well cared for. In our opinion, they have thought of everything needed to make the resident feel at home."
Rick and Marianna, Family of Bridges® Resident
"Bridges has become home for Mom and an incredible support system for our family. The entire staff is compassionate and attentive to the needs of not only the resident, but the caregivers’ needs and their concerns as well. Communication is timely and open. Daily activities are wonderfully thought out and implemented. The food is excellent. Mom enjoys the fresh air in the courtyard. It is never easy to move into this phase of life, but thankfully we are no longer alone. Mom is nearby, safe, well cared for, and part of a community."
Chip, Son of Bridges® Resident
"Bridges has been THE BEST! We were so scared to place our mom somewhere, after her memory was really failing lately and we knew we needed a secure facility. The staff was so understanding to everything we were feeling. They answered any questions we had and made the transition so incredibly smooth! Within one week, our mom was calling it home. She has friends and keeps so busy with the activities they plan all day! She is so happy, she tells me every day I visit how much she LOVES everyone that works there, that they are “A1” a term my mom uses when she loves someone or something!"
Debra, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"The exceptional staff is what makes Bridges the perfect memory care facility! They are all enthusiastically involved in the day-to-day lives of the residents. The many activities are fun, interesting, and appropriate for those with impaired memories. The food is healthy and delicious. The nurses and aides are knowledgeable and attentive. When I visit my mother, I typically find her happily engaged in a group activity which warms my heart, and I never worry about her when I’m not there! Her life has definitely been enriched while living at Bridges!"
Laurie, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"I have had the greatest experience with my mom’s placement at Bridges. The team has developed a relationship with Mom, they know her well, and they treat her with respect. I have been very happy with the response of the administrative team to handle any issues that my mom has had (medical, social, etc.). They work with us to make sure mom feels like she is loved where she is and that she is happy. Their goal is for her to feel like Bridges is a home for her and that has been achieved."
Abby, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"My Mom’s dementia became more pronounced, and we began to look into a facility that would be able to address her special needs. Mom soon began to feel like she was home again in a safe, comfortable environment. She then began to take part in the many activities that were offered and had much to tell us every morning when I would call her. Bridges has truly brought my Mom back to us as she is now thriving and happy. Her smiling face speaks volumes about the kind of care one can expect from the Bridges staff."
Sharon, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"Moving my dad out of his home that he had lived in for 50 years was the hardest decision. I kept asking myself, “Is this the right decision?” I can answer with complete certainty that yes, it was the right decision. I didn’t realize how much my dad’s old home environment was contributing to his confusion, anxiety and fall risk. My dad is doing so well now, and it’s because he is in an environment that is just the right kind of stimulation for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. He still has his memory impairment, but he does not have all the worries anymore. It is so nice to visit my dad and see him happy and relaxed again."
Susan, Daughter of Bridges® Resident
"Words cannot express how grateful I am to know that my mom is in such a loving and caring environment at Bridges. Over the past four months, everyone has been so amazing in mom’s transition – from the director to the nursing team, to the waitstaff and reception. We finally have our mom back – our role as her caretaker has changed back to being her daughters again and for that we are forever grateful."