Delirium In The Elderly
Delirium means “sudden confusion,” and reflects a serious disturbance in thought, mood, and behavior. All of the sudden, your loved one may no longer behave like themselves and you may not immediately recognize the cause. Some common signs that indicate an episode of delirium include:
- Mood changes: Anger, agitation, anxiety, depression, suspicion, and fear are all common in delirium
- Changes in speech: Your loved one may have slurred speech or suddenly start saying things that make no sense
- Sleep changes: Seniors may become more active at night or sleepy during the day
- Disorientation and confusion: A senior might not know where they are or what they are doing
- Visual hallucinations: Your loved one may report seeing things that aren’t there
- Physical issues: They may report incontinence, chills, fever, or pain
If these signs and symptoms come about over the course of a few days or hours, then it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately.
Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
How Is An Rpd Diagnosed
RPD can be difficult to diagnose, so it is often necessary to see a doctor who specializes in these conditions. The doctor might ask about the patients progression of symptoms, any similar illnesses in biological relatives or any recent possible exposures . The doctor may request some laboratory testing, such as blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid brain imaging and/or an electroencephalogram . The information gathered by the physician and tests might help to determine the cause of disease.
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Delirium Vs Dementia: What’s The Difference
When it comes to ensuring that your loved one receives the absolute best in support and services, it’s crucial to understand that cognitive changes, like delirium and dementia, require just as much care as physical conditions, like heart disease and high blood pressure.
Cognitive issues can affect a senior’s ability to think, reason, or remember and become much more common as we age. In fact, around one-third of seniors who arrive at hospital emergency rooms are found to be suffering an episode of delirium. And 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men past the age of 55 will go on to develop dementia.
To best support your loved one, it’s important to know how to identify both delirium and dementia. What are the signs and symptoms? What causes these cognitive issues? And how are these conditions different? Let’s take a closer look at delirium vs. dementia in seniors.
How Is Delirium Different From Dementia
Delirium is different from dementia. But they have similar symptoms, such as confusion, agitation and delusions. If a person has these symptoms, it can be hard for healthcare professionals who dont know them to tell whether delirium or dementia is the cause. When a person with dementia also gets delirium they will have symptoms from both conditions at once.There are important differences between delirium and dementia. Delirium starts suddenly and symptoms often also vary a lot over the day. In contrast, the symptoms of dementia come on slowly, over months or even years. So if changes or symptoms start suddenly, this suggests that the person has delirium.Dementia with Lewy bodies is an exception. This type of dementia has many of the same symptoms as delirium and they can vary a lot over the day.
Other symptoms of dementia
Dementia can cause a number of different symptoms. Here we explain some of these changes and suggest practical ways to manage them.
- taking multiple medications
- having already had delirium in the past.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia
Because dementia is a general term, its symptoms can vary widely from person to person. People with dementia have problems with:
- Reasoning, judgment, and problem solving
- Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision
Signs that may point to dementia include:
- Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
- Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
- Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
- Forgetting old memories
- Not being able to complete tasks independently
The Seven Stages Of Dementia
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
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Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
Being Confused About Time Or Place
Dementia can make it hard to judge the passing of time. People may also forget where they are at any time.
They may find it hard to understand events in the future or the past and may struggle with dates.
Visual information can be challenging for a person with dementia. It can be hard to read, to judge distances, or work out the differences between colors.
Someone who usually drives or cycles may start to find these activities challenging.
A person with dementia may find it hard to engage in conversations.
They may forget what they are saying or what somebody else has said. It can be difficult to enter a conversation.
People may also find their spelling, punctuation, and grammar get worse.
Some peoples handwriting becomes more difficult to read.
A person with dementia may not be able to remember where they leave everyday objects, such as a remote control, important documents, cash, or their keys.
Misplacing possessions can be frustrating and may mean they accuse other people of stealing.
It can be hard for someone with dementia to understand what is fair and reasonable. This may mean they pay too much for things, or become easily sure about buying things they do not need.
Some people with dementia also pay less attention to keeping themselves clean and presentable.
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Why Dementia Symptoms Fluctuate
The common perception that symptoms come and go is an important area worthy of additional study. From what we know now, here are five considerations when thinking about why your loved one might experience increasing and decreasing signs of dementia.
What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia
- Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
- Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
- Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.
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Dementia And Infections: Understanding The Connection
Chronic illness can affect your life in many ways ranging from annoying to life-threatening. Recognizing illness early on in yourself or a loved one may allow for a better quality of life and even more time to live.
One such illness is Dementia. Not many conditions devastate a family quite like this one.
Arming yourself with information may help you combat the effects of this disease. Dementia and infections interplay with one another, and learning this information can save a loved ones life.
Lifestyle Changes To Improve Vascular Dementia Symptoms
A diagnosis of dementia is scary. But its important to remember that many people with dementia can lead healthy, fulfilling lives for years after the diagnosis. Dont give up on life! As much as possible, continue to look after your physical and emotional health, do the things you love to do, and spend time with family and friends.
The same strategies used to keep your brain healthy as you age and prevent the onset of dementia can also be used to improve symptoms.
Find new ways to get moving. Research suggests that even a leisurely 30-minute walk every day may reduce the risk of vascular dementia and help slow its progression. Regular exercise can also help control your weight, relieve stress, and boost your overall health and happiness.
Create a network of support. Seeking help and encouragement from friends, family, health care experts, and support groups can improve your outlook and your health. And its never to late to make new friends and expand your network.
Eat for heart health. Heart disease and stroke share many of the same risk factors, such as high LDL cholesterol , low HDL cholesterol , and high blood pressure. Adopting a heart-healthy diet may help to improve or slow down your dementia symptoms.
Make it a point to have more fun.Laughing, playing, and enjoying yourself are great ways to reduce stress and worry. Joy can energize you and inspire lifestyle changes that may prevent further strokes and compensate for memory and cognitive losses.
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What Causes Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by a lack of blood flow to a part of the brain. Blood flow may be decreased or interrupted by:
- Blood clots
- Bleeding because of a ruptured blood vessel
- Damage to a blood vessel from atherosclerosis, infection, high blood pressure, or other causes, such as an autoimmune disorder
CADASIL is a genetic disorder that generally leads to dementia of the vascular type. One parent with the gene for CADASIL passes it on to a child, which makes it an autosomal-dominant inheritance disorder. It affects the blood vessels in the white matter of the brain. Symptoms, such as migraine headaches, seizures, and severe depression, generally start when a person is in his or her mid-30s but, symptoms may not appear until later in life.
Key Features Of Dementia
A person having dementia means that all five of the following statements are true:
- A person is having difficulty with one or more types of mental function. Although its common for memory to be affected, other parts of thinking function can be impaired. The 2013 DSM-5 manual lists these six types of cognitive function to consider: learning and memory, language, executive function, complex attention, perceptual-motor function, social cognition.
- The difficulties are a decline from the persons prior level of ability. These cant be lifelong problems with reading or math or even social graces. These problems should represent a change, compared to the persons usual abilities as an adult.
- The problems are bad enough to impair daily life function. Its not enough for a person to have an abnormal result on an office-based cognitive test. The problems also have to be substantial enough to affect how the person manages usual life, such as work and family responsibilities.
- The problems are not due to a reversible condition, such as delirium, or another reversible illness. Common conditions that can cause or worsen dementia-like symptoms include hypothyroidism, depression, and medication side-effects.
- The problems arent better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia.
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Symptoms Specific To Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s. Some people have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, often called “mixed dementia”.
Symptoms of vascular dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, although memory loss may not be as obvious in the early stages.
Symptoms can sometimes develop suddenly and quickly get worse, but they can also develop gradually over many months or years.
Specific symptoms can include:
- stroke-like symptoms: including muscle weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the body
- movement problems difficulty walking or a change in the way a person walks
- thinking problems having difficulty with attention, planning and reasoning
- mood changes depression and a tendency to become more emotional
Read more about vascular dementia.
What Are The Signs Of End
It is important for caregivers to know when an individual with dementia is close to the end of their life, because it helps ensure they receive the right amount of care at the right time. It can be difficult to know exactly when this time is due to the variable nature of dementias progression, but understanding common end-of-life symptoms of seniors with dementia can help. Below is a timeline of signs of dying in elderly people with dementia:
Final Six Months
- A diagnosis of another condition such as cancer, congestive heart failure or COPD
- An increase in hospital visits or admissions
Final Two-to-Three Months
- Speech limited to six words or less per day
- Difficulty in swallowing or choking on liquids or food
- Unable to walk or sit upright without assistance
- Hands, feet, arms and legs may be increasingly cold to the touch
- Inability to swallow
- Terminal agitation or restlessness
- An increasing amount of time asleep or drifting into unconsciousness
- Changes in breathing, including shallow breaths or periods without breathing for several seconds or up to a minute
Patients with dementia are eligible to receive hospice care if they have a diagnosis of six months or less to live if the disease progresses in a typical fashion. Once a patient begins experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is time to speak with a hospice professional about how they can help provide added care and support.
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Helping Someone With Vascular Dementia
Caring for a person with vascular dementia can be very stressful for both you and your loved one. You can make the situation easier by providing a stable and supportive environment.
- Modify the caregiving environment to reduce potential stressors that can create agitation and disorientation in a dementia patient.
- Avoid loud or unidentifiable noises, shadowy lighting, mirrors or other reflecting surfaces, garish or highly contrasting colors, and patterned wallpaper.
- Use calming music or play the persons favorite type of music as a way to relax the patient when agitated.
How Is Dementia Diagnosed
Your doctor will do a physical exam and review your symptoms. He or she can do tests to find out if dementia is the cause of your symptoms. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can talk about treatment options.
If your family member shows signs, try to get them to see a doctor. You may want to go to the visit with them. This lets you speak with the doctor in private. You can tell them how your loved one is acting and learn about treatment.
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The Facts Of Rapid Onset Dementia Life Expectancy
Dementia refers to a group of conditions characterized by the loss of cognitive functioning, such as memory, thinking, and reasoning. For some individuals with this disease, the progression is slow, taking years to reach an advanced stage. However, for others, dementia can develop and progress rapidly. The speed of progression primarily depends on the underlying cause of the disease. If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with rapid onset dementia, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of the future. Learn more about the rapid onset dementia life expectancy and what steps you should take.
Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.
Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:
- personality changes reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
- lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
- language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
- becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking
Read more about frontotemporal dementia.
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