Treat Your Caregiving As A Condition
Many caregivers constantly debate and struggle with their loved ones aboutpotentially dangerous tasks, such as cooking and driving. Those powerstruggles compound the physical and mental burden of the care itself.Thats why, as the illness progresses, in addition to managing thecomplications of the illness, we focus care on the caregiver, saysJohnston. Try to find ways to arrange frequent breaks, respite care andstress-relief measures as your mandatory medicine.
Understanding The Causes And Finding Ways To Cope
When someone with dementia lashes out at you for seemingly no reason, it’s normal to feel surprised, discouraged, hurt, irritated, and even angry at them. Learning what causes anger in dementia, and how best to respond, can help you cope.
In What Stage Of Dementia Are Hallucinations And Delusions Most Likely To Occur
The type of dementia most associated with hallucinations is Lewy body dementia, which affects about 1.4 million people in the U.S. and is the third-most-common type of dementia . People with Lewy body dementia will often see colorful people or animals that arent actually present, often for a few minutes at a time. This is actually more likely to occur in the early stages of the disease than later. People with Lewy body dementia, in fact, often have hallucinations early and then, as they enter the middle stages, the hallucinations will go away completely as other symptoms, like problems walking, get worse.
People with Alzheimers disease have been shown to sometimes have hallucinations, as have people with Parkinsons disease with dementia. This is rarer, however, and delusions are much more common with these illnesses. Both hallucinations and delusions in people with Alzheimers often occur in the late-middle to later stages of the disease.
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How Catching A Cold Worsens Alzheimer’s: Common Infections ‘double The Rate Of Decline’
Study: Scientists have found that catching a bug can make Alzheimer’s worse
A simple cold or stomach bug can make Alzheimer’s disease dramatically worse, an alarming study has found.
Research showed that sufferers who caught an infection had twice the rate of cognitive decline as healthy people.
Scientists called on doctors to treat Alzheimer’s patients who catch a cold or a stomach bug as a priority.
The study found there was a direct link between the common infections and an increase in a protein linked to inflammation-like reactions in the brain.
This led directly to an increased rate of cognitive decline.
It is further evidence that inflammation in the brain could be a cause of Alzheimer’s, which affects more than 400,000 in the UK.
Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, which funded the research at the University of Southampton, said: ‘This study is an important step towards understanding the processes that occur during the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
‘We know there might be a link between inflammatory processes and Alzheimer’s but this is not yet fully understood. These findings are helping us to understand more about possible reasons for this link.
‘More research is now needed to further this line of investigation.
‘In the meantime it’s important that older people, people with dementia and carers treat any infection seriously and seek medical help.
How Might Vaccines Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers don’t know exactly, but they have a few theories. “Perhaps preventing the viral infection itself may protect against neurological complications of the infection,” Amran says.
Another possibility centers on the immune system in general. As we get older, our immune system weakens, and it can’t respond as quickly or as strongly to viruses and other threats as it did when we were young. It’s also not as good at keeping harmful substances out of our brain, or as efficient at fixing any damage that does happen to the brain.
Vaccines not only prevent a specific type of infection, but they might also give the immune system an overall boost. “You have this activated immune response for maybe several months or years, which allows you to also be protected against a bunch of other diseases,” Ukraintseva says.
It’s also possible that people who get vaccinated take better care of their health in other ways — for example, they eat a healthy diet and exercise — which helps protect them from Alzheimer’s disease. The authors of both studies tried to control for other healthy practices but couldn’t confirm whether they played a role in Alzheimer’s prevention.
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How To Take Care Of A Fever
Have your loved one stay home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. They can also take acetaminophen to relieve fever or ibuprofen . These medicines can help bring down a fever. But they are not always necessary. Talk with their doctor to find out what is best.
If your loved one has chills or feels cold, give them a light sheet or jacket. If they cover up with a thick blanket or coat, it might make the fever worse.
If they feel hot, cool them down. You may want to remove any extra layers of clothes or turn on a fan. If theyâre near a heat source, such as a space heater or fireplace, get them away from it or turn it off if you can. A lukewarm to cool washcloth on their skin or a lukewarm to cool bath may also help.
Fever can cause dehydration , so make sure they get plenty to drink.
Watch them closely. Older people can get worse suddenly.
Support And Care Is The Most Important Part Of Treatment
When someone is diagnosed with dementia, a full assessment may be suggested to look at their practical skills, their ability to look after themself, their safety in their home, etc. This usually involves assessment by a number of different healthcare professionals. An individual care plan may be drawn up that outlines the person’s specific needs. The aim is to maintain the independence of someone with dementia as much as possible and for as long as possible.
Most people with dementia are cared for in the community. Often, the main carer is a family member. It is important that carers get the full support and advice which is locally available. Support and advice may be needed from one or more of the following healthcare and allied professionals, depending on the severity of the dementia and the individual circumstances:
The level of care and support needed often changes over time. For example, some people with mild dementia can cope well in their own home which is very familiar to them. Some may live with a family member who does most of the caring. If things become worse, a place in a residential or nursing home may be best. The situation can be reviewed from time to time to make sure the appropriate levels of care and support are provided.
Are Vaccines Causing Our Dementia Epidemic
Though theres much that we still dont understand about dementiaincluding Alzheimers disease, theres one fact about which theres no debate: its a growing problem.
Its alarming enough that the condition already affects over five million Americans, and that one out of every three senior dies with some form of dementia. Whats even more frightening is that the rate of dementia diagnosis is increasing more rapidly than ever before.
The Alzheimers Association reports that someone in the United States develops the disease every 67 secondsa statistic that has led researchers from Bournemouth University in England to warn that the level dementia has reached is almost epidemic.
Skeptics claim that this sharp rise in the incidence of cognitive decline is due to the extension of life expectancy made possible by modern medical science. The logic sounds good on the surfacedementia is a natural consequence of reaching old age, so if more people are reaching old age, theres bound to be more people with dementia.
Theres insufficient evidence to suggest that this assumption holds any truth, though. Even if old age can be strongly correlated with the development of dementia, the simple fact is that the incidence of Alzheimers and related diseases is increasing far more quickly than Americas senior population.
And it gets worse.
Getting Sick Can Worsen Dementia
Over a year ago, my mothers dementia dramatically worsened after back to back illnesses. She developed a cold but recovered in about two weeks. A few days later, I found her extremely weak, confused, and short of breath. Thinking she may have pneumonia, I decided we needed to seek emergency attention through an ER evaluation. Much to my surprise, as I was helping her change clothes, I discovered she had horrible shingles across her back and chest.
The following week, she spent a few days in the hospital then went to a nearby rehab facility. During her time spent at the rehabilitation center, she could not safely be left alone. My sister and I took turns accompanying her overnight in the hospital to make sure she did not fall and injure herself. Once she relocated to rehab, we again were required to have someone monitor her around the clock for safety concerns. Her condition worsened as she became very disoriented, extremely weak, and had difficulty feeding herself or walking without assistance. Due to her increasing medical needs, I brought her home early from rehab as it was easier to care for her in her own home.
My mother had mild cognitive impairment prior to these illnesses but progressed to moderate impairment afterward. The illnesses she suffered from caused acute delirium which resulted in permanent worsening of her dementia.
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Treatment Of Hallucinations & Delusions
Be sure to consult with a doctor in order to best understand why your loved one is hallucinating or having delusions and whether medication is indicated. For both delusions and hallucinations, medications called antipsychotics are sometimes prescribed. Antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, are prescribed for health conditions including schizophrenia, and have been shown to help people with dementia who struggle with these symptoms.
Doctors may prescribe any of a number of antipsychotics after evaluating your loved one, but the drug most often used to help dementia-related hallucinations and delusions is Risperidone, which has been shown to alleviate symptoms in the short term. The side effects of risperidone and other antipsychotics can be severe including muscle tremors, weight gain, fatigue, and dizziness and non-drug treatments are typically preferred. A doctor may, however, conclude that medication is necessary.
Vaccines And Prion Disease
Before I discuss all these claims, I have to answer the question: What are prions? Prion diseases are more properly referred to as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and represent a rare form of progressive neurodegenerative disorders that can affect both humans and animals. The most famous prion diseases in animals are bovine spongiform encephalopathy , scrapie, and chronic wasting disease in humans, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and kuru. These diseases have a long incubation period and produce in the brain characteristic spongiform changes associated with loss of neurons with no inflammatory response. The causative agents for these diseases are prions. According to the CDC:
The term prions refers to abnormal, pathogenic agents that are transmissible and are able to induce abnormal folding of specific normal cellular proteins called prion proteins that are found most abundantly in the brain. The functions of these normal prion proteins are still not completely understood. The abnormal folding of the prion proteins leads to brain damage and the characteristic signs and symptoms of the disease. Prion diseases are usually rapidly progressive and always fatal.
The BSE inquirys report calls for vaccines to be investigated as a possible route of transmission. But it concedes that this will be hampered by the fact that systematic records of the action taken in response to BSE in respect of individual medical products are lacking.
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The Flu Shot And Alzheimer’s
In another study this year, people who got one or more flu vaccines were 17% less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. Those who got their flu shot more often had an additional 13% lower risk. Getting the first flu shot earlier in life — at age 60 — seemed to offer better protection than waiting until age 70 to get the vaccine.
“Overall, we found that flu shots, and more frequent flu shots, were associated with less cases of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Albert Amran, a fourth-year medical student at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, who led the study.
These aren’t the only studies to link vaccines with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. An older study of 4,000 people ages 65 and older found that people who’d been exposed to the diphtheria, tetanus, polio, or flu vaccine had a lower risk for dementia. In another study, people with chronic kidney disease who got the flu vaccine were 30% to 40% less likely to get dementia, compared to those who weren’t vaccinated.
What Are Hallucinations
With certain types of dementia, such as Parkinsons disease dementia and Lewy body dementia, hallucinations are more common. Hallucinations are also seen in Alzheimers disease, but what exactly is the individual experiencing when they hallucinate? Hallucinations are the senses being wrong about whats real. They are most often sights and sounds that do not exist outside the hallucinating persons perception, but other senses can also be tricked by hallucinations . Typical hallucinations include hearing voices, seeing flashing lights, or watching bugs crawling on the floor.
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What Caregivers Can Do
Caring for a loved one with dementia is challenging, but watching for signs of infections is important. Since people with dementia may not be able to tell you they are unwell or have pain, it can be hard to detect some types of infections. Here are some tips that may help:
- Signs of a fever or lower than normal temperature. Not everyone with dementia will allow their caregiver to take their temperature. If you cant check for fever that way, watch for other signs, such as the skin is warmer to touch than usual, flushing , lips or skin dryer than usual, or shivering even if it is warm. Dont forget that a lower than normal temperature may also be a sign of sepsis.
- Increasing confusion or agitation, personality change, drowsiness. If there is a significant change in behavior, it could be a sign of an infection. The person may become drowsier, just wanting to sleep. Or someone who is usually calm may become agitated or aggressive.
- Signs of pain or discomfort. Body language may tell you if your loved one cant say that something hurts or where theres pain. Some signs could include: protecting or guarding a part of the body, moaning or grimacing, eating less than usual, increasing restlessness, unwillingness to move, falling or having difficulty balancing, or crying.
- Coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. Pneumonia can cause these signs.
Other things to keep in mind is if your loved one had an invasive procedure or hurt him or herself in some way:
Flu Pneumonia Vaccinations Tied To Lower Risk Of Alzheimer’s Dementia
CHICAGO, JULY 27, 2020 Flu and pneumonia vaccinations are associated with reduced risk of Alzheimerâs disease, according to new research reported at the Alzheimerâs Association International Conference® 2020.
Three research studies reported at AAIC 2020 suggest:
- At least one flu vaccination was associated with a 17% reduction in Alzheimerâs incidence. More frequent flu vaccination was associated with another 13% reduction in Alzheimerâs incidence.
- Vaccination against pneumonia between ages 65 and 75 reduced Alzheimerâs risk by up to 40% depending on individual genes.
- Individuals with dementia have a higher risk of dying after infections than those without dementia .
âWith the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are at the forefront of public health discussions. It is important to explore their benefit in not only protecting against viral or bacterial infection but also improving long-term health outcomes,â said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimerâs Association chief science officer.
âIt may turn out to be as simple as if youâre taking care of your health in this way â getting vaccinated â youâre also taking care of yourself in other ways, and these things add up to lower risk of Alzheimerâs and other dementias,â Carrillo said. âThis research, while early, calls for further studies in large, diverse clinical trials to inform whether vaccinations as a public health strategy decrease our risk for developing dementia as we age.â
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Tips For Caregivers On Dealing With Hallucinations & Delusions
Consult a physician if your loved one is having delusions or hallucinations, to rule out other causes unrelated to dementia. Mental illness and medical conditions such as migraines, brain tumors, epilepsy, urinary tract infections, and dehydration can all be causes.
Resist the need to stop or control difficult behaviors. Think carefully about whether or not your loved one is causing a problem. If the answer is no, try letting it be. This is not to say that you have to lie to or humor your loved one you can be honest while also showing respect. For example, you might say, I dont hear or see anyone outside the window, but I know you do, and you seem worried.
Consider the situation. Investigate why a hallucination or delusion is occurring in that particular moment. Beyond mental and medical causes, there can also be environmental and social causes as well.
Keep a journal to record when, where, and how your loved one experiences delusions or hallucinations. Record how your loved one is behaving, and what sorts of events have happened recently.
Control the environment. Make sure there is sufficient lighting in the room and not too many distractions. A radio or TV, for example, might cause your loved one to hear voices and not understand that whats coming from the speakers is not actually in the room. Also, pulling curtains or shades can provide comfort for someone afraid of being watched.