Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to loss of memory, thinking, and other brain functions. Alzheimer's is not a part of normal aging but results from a complex pattern of abnormal changes. It usually develops slowly and gradually gets worse as more brain cells become affected. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress from mild forgetfulness to widespread brain impairment. Chemical and structural changes in the brain can slowly destroy the ability to create, remember, learn, reason, and relate to others. As critical cells die, drastic personality loss occurs and body systems fail.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, a general term used to describe various diseases and conditions that damage brain cells. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.4 million Americans are currently living with the disease.
The symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
- Confusion with time and place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- Problems with words in speaking or writing
- Difficulty maintaining things
- The inability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work and/or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality.
Situation and Solution: A music teacher at a small high school was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Through meeting with school administration and with help from her doctor, the teacher was able to remain in her position with increased support in the form of accommodations. With the help of a colleague, she was able to better organize her desk and files so that retrieval of information was much easier. Color-coding was used to help her better locate that information. She was also provided with a voice-activated recorder to help her remember verbal instructions and notes from meetings. At the current time, the accommodations were helping her keep her performance at a very high level.
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