Why Stress Over The Little Things
If someone with dementia is having a hard day and displaying some challenging behaviors, we know that sometimes they need some extra time and space, and we begin to let go of our expectations and our desire for control over the things that really don’t matter. For example, is it really that big of a deal that they want to eat dessert first or is wearing socks that don’t match? It just doesn’t matter, and the day will go so much more smoothly after we adjust our perspective.
The truth is that we often get ourselves so upset over things that don’t really matter in the long run. Sometimes, it’s very easy to lose perspective on what is actually important. We would all do well to employ the same strategy of letting go that we might use in dementia by reminding ourselves to breathe, let go and place things back in perspective.
Can People Living With Dementia Read
Speaker: Susan Ostrowski, Co-Founder, Reading2Connect
In this talk, we shake up conventional notions about what it means to read and what adult text should look like. We outline practical, feasible ways to melt away the barriers to reading that many elders encounter, reviving their preserved, latent reading skills. We will view and analyze videos of people living with dementia independently interacting with books and sharing the reading experience with their peers.
With accessible, meaningful reading, we see long-term care residents exercising agency and initiation, demonstrating creativity and imagination, and connecting authentically with others, all without staff assistance.
Susan Ostrowski holds masters degrees in remedial reading and in speech pathology from Columbia University. With a deep concern for the unmet socialemotional needs of older adults and a passion for innovation, Susan co-created an organization called Reading2Connect®. Reading2Connects mission is to bring back the joy of leisurely reading to adults living with dementia.
When Do People With Dementia Find It Difficult To Communicate
Language problems can also vary from day to day, or be more or less of a problem at different times of the day. They can be made worse if the person is tired, in pain or unwell. The surroundings can also help with communication, or make it more difficult.
In some types of dementia such as some forms of frontotemporal dementia a person may start to have problems with language much earlier than other types of dementia. It is likely to be one of the first symptoms that is noticed.
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Changes In Behaviour Judgement And Moods
Becoming quiet, withdrawn or restless or frustrated or angry can be early signs of dementia. Someone may develop repetitive behaviour for example, they ask the same question over and over again, do the same thing repeatedly or make multiple phone calls to the same person. They may become insecure and anxious or start hiding and losing items. They may withdraw from social activities or give up hobbies and interests they have enjoyed.
They may show poor judgement, for example putting summer clothes on in cold winter months, not knowing when a kettle is full or overfilling cups when making cold and hot drinks, putting a kettle on the hob or leaving a cooker on or tap running. Someone with dementia may become very emotional and experience rapid mood swings or become quieter and less emotional than usual.
Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:
- periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
- visual hallucinations
- becoming slower in their physical movements
- repeated falls and fainting
Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.
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Research On Reading And Dementia Progression
According to a study published in Boston Medical Center Psychiatry, researchers were able to successfully identify people with dementia based on their ability to read using the National Adult Reading Test . Poorer performance on the NART correlated fairly highly with those who had a diagnosis of dementia.
Asking For Help Is Wise
Have you ever heard someone with dementia ? Sometimes, it may seem like the person with dementia gets stuck on calling out to others, but often, it’s better than watching those who need help and are too proud or stubborn to ask for it.
The truth is that while independence and isolation are typical in our society, it’s not just those who struggle with memory loss that need help. We all need each other and sometimes, we need to learn to ask for help. A sense of community and teamwork is important, and laying down our pride by asking for help can foster interdependent relationships that are transparent and genuine.
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Simple Pleasures For Special Seniors By Dan Koffman
It is important for seniors with dementia to read books that make them feel successful. Simple Pleasures for Special Seniors is a great series that gives seniors several optional reads. The series contains books on fun foods, fruits, hand tools, and life in the military, and they are great for seniors with short concentration spans and limited communication skills.
Caring for a loved one with cognitive decline can be overwhelming at times. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Toronto, ON, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
Keep Books And Reading In The Lives Of Your Loved Ones
Dont allow dementia to deprive your loved one of the joy of reading. Many people can continue to read during the early and mid stages of Alzheimers. Many others simply enjoy paging through a familiar magazine or having a few of their favorite books nearby. Even holding a favorite classic or religious book in their hands may bring comfort and peace. All the books referenced in this blog are available online from the publishers or through Amazon Books.
The Ridge Senior Living family of communities The Ridge Foothill The Ridge Cottonwood near Salt Lake City and our new Denver community, The Ridge Pinehurst are leaders in the field of modern memory care. Looking for more resources on memory care? You can learn to recognize the signs that a loved one needs memory care and also the best method of transitioning a parent to residential memory care.
The Ridge communities provide an unmatched level of comfort and camaraderie to carry residents through even the most uncertain times. Dont hesitate to contact us to learn more.
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Difficulty Completing Normal Tasks
A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.
Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
Vascular Dementia Signs And Symptoms
Vascular dementia affects different people in different ways and the speed of the progression also varies from person to person. Some symptoms may be similar to those of other types of dementia and usually reflect increasing difficulty to perform everyday activities like eating, dressing, or shopping.
Behavioral and physical symptoms can come on dramatically or very gradually, although it appears that a prolonged period of TIAsthe mini-strokes discussed aboveleads to a gradual decline in memory, whereas a bigger stroke can produce profound symptoms immediately. Regardless of the rate of appearance, vascular dementia typically progresses in a stepwise fashion, where lapses in memory and reasoning abilities are followed by periods of stability, only to give way to further decline.
|Common Signs and Symptoms of Vascular Dementia|
|Mental and Emotional Signs and Symptoms|
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Policymakers Should Take Note A Scientist Says
Manly said the study had implications for how nations think about their educational policy.
The reason they didnt go to school was due to Dominican education policy, she said.
After the eighth grade, school attendance is no longer mandatory in the Dominican Republic, according to the non-profit Borgen Project.
Manly said that in the US, policymakers should reckon with the fact that educational quality shapes later life brain health.
Increasing opportunities for children and adults to obtain literacy may be protective for brain health later in life, she said.
Manly likened the positive effects that learning to read can have on the mind to the positive effects that exercise can have on the body.
For individuals and families, health behaviors should include education, she said.
Talking With A Doctor
After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:
- talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
- contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team
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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.
Recognition And Coordination Difficulties
A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places . They may have difficulty recognising familiar items such as a chair, soap, toothbrush, cutlery, kettle, coffee jar, cooker or fridge.
Signs of a loss of coordination skills can include struggling to undo or do up buttons, to tie or untie shoes and neckties, and to use a hair brush or razor. They may be more subtle, such as putting down a cup of tea too close to the edge of a table or having difficulties lifting a teapot or kettle or using a knife to cut vegetables or fruit.
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Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
Seeing a person exhibit dementia symptoms can be baffling and scary which may bring up the question do people with dementia know they have it?
It is important to note that this neurodegenerative disease affects people differently.
The fact, however, is that dementia is a progressive illness that destroys brain cells over time.
How Can Dementia Affect How A Person Communicates
Dementia can affect how a person communicates and the language they use. They may:
- not be able to find the right words
- use a related word
- use substitutes for words
- not find any word at all
- not struggle to find words, but use words that have no meaning, or that are jumbled up in the wrong order
- go back to the first language they learned as a child. For example, if they learned English as a second language, they may forget how to speak it.
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How Psychologists Can Help
Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of aging. Dementia is a syndrome caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities.1 Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases, and nearly one in every five dollars spent by Medicare is on people with Alzheimers or another dementia.2
New research suggests that people are often correct when they think their memory is declining. Individuals may pick up on subtle signs before they are obvious to others. Normal memory problems do not affect everyday life. If someone forgets where they put their keys, it may be because that individual is not well organized. However, if someone forgets what keys are used for or how to unlock doors, it may be a more serious matter.3
A diagnosis of dementia can be emotionally overwhelming for the individual as well as the family. Individuals with dementia require more intensive care and assistance as the dementia worsens. Though there may not be a way to completely alleviate symptoms of dementia, maintaining sleep patterns, a healthy diet, regular exercise, cognitive stimulation and socialization can help people with dementia maintain a normal level of functioning for as long as possible.
What Do Researchers Suggest
Fundació ACE is a nonprofit foundation in Barcelona, Spain, serving people with Alzheimers disease or other dementias and their caregivers in the fields of diagnosis, treatment, research, training and awareness. Marina Guitart is a psychologist and coordinator of the foundations Day Care Unit. She observes that many people with dementia retain their ability to read but lose focus or become easily fatigued. They give up on reading because of the effort involved in keeping the thread of the story.
Dr. Guitart advises, Dont stop reading. Reading every day helps preserve language and memory longer. But be sure to choose reading materials wisely for loved ones with dementia. Find books with photos and clear, large text.
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What About Reading After A Dementia Diagnosis
Dont stop reading, said Marina Guitart, a psychologist and coordinator of the Day Care Unit at Fundació ACE in Barcelona, Spain. Many people with dementia retain their ability to read, but may lose focus or are easily fatigued. They may quickly quit reading because of the effort involved in keeping the thread of the story.
But reading every day helps preserve language and memory longer, said Guitart.
The psychologist has several tips on how to encourage people with dementia to read regularly.
Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.
You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
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Illiterate People Are Twice As Likely To Develop Dementia Study Says
Whether or not you can read and write could be a factor in your ability to stave off dementia as you grow older, according to a new study from scientists at Columbia University.
They published their results Wednesday in the online issue of the journal Neurology.
Researchers studied 983 adults over age 65 living in New York Citys Washington Heights area who had four or less years of schooling.
Visiting the participants homes, the scientists performed tests of the memory, language and visual or spatial abilities. During those visits, they made dementia diagnoses based on the standard criteria.
The illiterate participants performed worse on those tests.
In establishing the baseline measures, those who had never learned to read or write were nearly three times as likely to have dementia than those who could read.
And among those who didnt have dementia at the beginning of the study, the illiterate section of the cohort was twice as likely to develop it.
One reason for the brain decline, the authors write, is that those who dont learn to read have a lower range of cognitive function than those who are literate.