What Are The Signs Of Dementia
Common signs and symptoms of dementia include:
- Problems with short-term memory
- Trouble keeping track of personal items
- Disorientation in familiar places
Dementia affects each person uniquely, so symptoms start and progress differently from individual to individual. If you suspect that your loved one is showing signs of dementia, it may be best to take them to see a doctor for an initial screening and check-up.
Because dementia heavily affects the brain, people often wonder, Is dementia fatal? Below weve compiled some of the top questions and answers about dementias effect on an individuals physical health.
Youre Suddenly Bad With Money
A pattern of uncharacteristically poor financial decisions should set off alarm bells. When you have frontal-lobe damage, you lose judgment and can make rash, impulsive financial decisions, says Tartaglia. A frugal person starts giving away more money or buying things they dont needlike a furnace from a door-to-door salesperson. Shes seen patients who did significant damage to their families finances, as well as CEOs of companies who lost millions because nobody noticed the signs.
A combination of declining decision-making skills and memory can also lead to financial lapses. A 2020 JAMA Internal Medicine study found that people with dementia started missing bill payments up to six years before they were diagnosed.
Caring For Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
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People with dementia may experience problems with thinking, memory, behaviour and mobility. It can be difficult to recognise when someone with dementia is nearing the end of their life. You can support the person by communicating with them and helping them with any symptoms they have. If possible, its a good idea to plan the persons care in advance to help understand what they want from their care.
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End Of Life Dementia Care And Covid
Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Older adults also have the highest rates of dementia. Given the risks that older adults face from both COVID-19 and dementia, its important to understand how to protect yourself and your loved one. Find more information about dementia and COVID-19 from the CDC.
When a dementia like Alzheimers disease is first diagnosed, if everyone understands that there is no cure, then plans for the end of life can be made before thinking and speaking abilities fail and the person with Alzheimers can no longer legally complete documents like advance directives.
End-of-life care decisions are more complicated for caregivers if the dying person has not expressed the kind of care he or she would prefer. Someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimers disease might not be able to imagine the later stages of the disease.
Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
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Whats The Life Expectancy For Someone With Dementia
Each person will have an individual experience of dementia. The speed and pattern of progression of the disease can differ-but the condition is progressive and will get worse over time. Sadly, dementia will limit the life expectancy of the person affected; the condition has now overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
The Start Of The Dying Process
As someones condition worsens and they get to within a few days or hours of dying, further changes are common. The person will often:
- deteriorate more quickly than before
- lose consciousness
- develop an irregular breathing pattern
- have cold hands and feet.
These changes are part of the dying process. Healthcare professionals can explain these changes so you understand what is happening. The person is often unaware of what is happening, and they should not be in pain or distress.
Medication can be used to treat the persons symptoms. If the person cant swallow, there are other ways of providing this, such as medication patches on the skin, small injections or syringe drivers . Speak to a GP or another health professional about this.
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Managing Alzheimer’s Disease Behavior
Common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Scientists are learning why these symptoms occur and are studying new treatments drug and nondrug to manage them. Research has shown that treating behavioral symptoms can make people with Alzheimers more comfortable and makes things easier for caregivers.
How Dementia Causes Death
A person in the late stage of dementia is at risk for many medical complications, like a;urinary tract infection and pneumonia . They’re at an even higher risk of certain conditions because they’re unable to move.
Trouble swallowing, eating, and drinking leads to weight loss, dehydration, and malnutrition. This further increases their risk of infection.
In the end, most people with late-stage dementia die of a medical complication related to their underlying dementia.
For example, a person may die from an infection like aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia usually happens because of swallowing problems.
A person may also die from a blood clot in the lung because they are bedbound and not mobile.
It’s important to know that late-stage dementia is a terminal illness.;This means that dementia itself can lead to death. Sometimes this is appropriately listed as the cause of death on a death certificate.
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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Dementia Stages Before Death
At diagnosis, most people are in either the early- or mid-stage of dementia. People with early stage dementia may be a bit forgetful, but they can still function in everyday life. They live independently; many still work.
In mid-stage dementia, memory and thinking problems become more obvious. Other people notice that the affected individual is no longer operating at peak capacity. Symptoms become more pronounced as this stage progresses. Affected individuals may forget that they just ate. They may wander or get lost while walking a once-familiar route. Their sleep habits may change. Its not uncommon for people with mid-stage to sleep during the day and be up most of the night.
Eventually, dementia progresses to the point where individuals can no longer control bowel and bladder function. This loss of control is directly Related to the damage occurring in the brain; the cells that normally control these functions die. And as more and more cells die, symptoms worsen. In late-stage dementia, individuals may lose the ability to walk and speak. Self-feeding becomes impossible, and as the disease progresses, many people have a hard time swallowing food or drink.
How To Treat And Prevent Alcoholic Dementia
Alcohol dementia treatment can be quite stressful for patients to undertake, but it is necessary to prevent more dangerous health problems and even death. The alcoholism treatment consists of IV therapies and infusions which attempt to reestablish the proper nutritional balance of the body. Patients need to stay in clinics or hospitals for certain periods where they will be closely monitored and treated. Alcohol must be avoided at all costs during the treatment period, a thing which most alcohol abusers find very hard to do. This happens because alcohol addicts have become so used to this toxic substance that the body craves it regularly. Alcoholism support groups are very helpful in these cases.
Dementia from alcohol abuse can also be treated with Thiamine therapy which brings the much-needed nutrients back into a sufferers body. This treatment improves the neurological functioning of the patient and prevents dementia from advancing to more dangerous stages. Patients must also receive proper counsel from professional therapists to discover the root causes of their alcohol addiction and to eliminate them. If proper treatment is administered on time, alcoholic abusers might have a chance of living an alcohol-free and happy life. The rehabilitation facility for alcoholics is the best option to contact to learn more about the recovery process.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
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Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by the build-up of tiny protein;deposits in the brain. DLB is less common in younger people;with dementia than in older people. Lewy bodies also cause Parkinsons disease and about one-third of people with Parkinsons eventually develop dementia.Symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies can include hallucinations and varying levels of alertness. People can also develop the features of Parkinsons disease .
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The Start And Progression Of Alcoholic Dementia
Dementia caused by alcoholism can appear to people of all ages, and it usually starts as a result of abusing alcohol regularly for many years. Alcohol addicts develop the Wernickes encephalopathy first, and then this causes the Korsakoff syndrome. Ultimately, the serious memory problems caused by Korsakoff syndrome will lead to alcoholic dementia. The process takes time to develop, but it can be an incurable disease. The Wernickes encephalopathy appears because heavy drinkers lose thiamine from the body as a result of frequent and long binge drinking episodes. Most alcohol addicts do not replenish this vital substance , and as a result, alcoholic dementia can appear.
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How Might Dementia Affect People Towards The End Of Life
Dementia is progressive, which means it gets worse over time. In the last year of life, its likely to have a big impact on the persons abilities including memory, communication and everyday activities. The speed at which someone will get worse will depend on the type of dementia they have and who they are as an individual.;
The symptoms of later stage dementia include the following:
A person with later stage dementia often deteriorates slowly over many months. They gradually become more frail, and will need more help with everyday activities such as eating, dressing, washing and using the toilet. People may experience weight loss, as swallowing and chewing become more difficult.;
A person with later-stage dementia may also have symptoms that suggest they are close to death, but continue to live with these symptoms for many months. This can make it difficult for the person and their family to plan for the end of life. It also makes it difficult for those supporting them professionally.;
For more information on supporting someone with later stage dementia see Alzheimers Society factsheet, The later stages of dementia ;.
Can Sepsis Cause Dementia
A;study published in 2017;looked at more than 20,000 patients with no history of dementia who were admitted to the hospital with sepsis for the first time. The researchers found that patients who had sepsis were more likely to develop signs of dementia after discharge. The researchers also found that younger age didnt protect patients from developing dementia. In this study, some patients in their 20s were affected. And for all ages, the worse the sepsis, the greater the risk of developing dementia. Another study;;estimates that every year, there may be as many as 20,000 new cases of dementia caused by sepsis.
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Outlook For Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia will usually get worse over time. This can happen in sudden steps, with periods in between where the symptoms do not change much, but it’s difficult to predict when this will happen.
Although treatment can help, vascular dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.
But this is highly variable, and many people live for several years with the condition, or die from some other cause.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, remember that you’re not alone. The NHS and social services,;as well as voluntary organisations, can provide advice and support for you and your family.
Who Diagnoses Dementia
The General Practitioner is usually the first contact when concerns about thinking or memory arise. The GP will take a medical history and may carry out a brief test of memory and concentration. If the GP is concerned about the possibility of dementia, the person may be referred to a specialist or specialist memory centre. It is important to remember that the choice of doctor is up to you so if after your visit you are still concerned and wish a referral to a specialist, you may wish to ask for a second opinion.;;
Specialists such as neurologists, geriatricians, psychogeriatricians, psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists have a more detailed knowledge of the memory and behaviour changes associated with dementia and may perform or arrange in-depth assessments, brain scans and blood tests. In Australia, a specialist must confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimers disease in order for you to be eligible for subsidised Alzheimers medications.;;
Aged Care Assessment Teams are multidisciplinary teams often comprised of social workers, occupational;therapists, as well as nurses and doctors. ACATs are usually based in hospitals or regional community health centres. ACATs assess the health needs of ageing individuals, put the individual in contact with relevant services, make recommendations about the level of care required and approve eligibility for certain services.;;
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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.;If your loved one cant say that something hurts or where theres pain, body language may tell you. 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. These signs could be caused by pneumonia.
Other things to keep in mind is if your loved one had an invasive procedure or hurt him or herself in some way:
You Forget Where Youve Put Things
Its not unusual to occasionally forget where you stashed your keys. But if you find that youre doing this regularly, leaving the stove burner on or frequently forgetting recent events and conversations, this could be a warning sign. Commonly, says Hsiung, people with this type of memory loss will ask loved ones the same questions over and over again.
Families can help a lot in recognizing these early symptoms, because if the persons memory is poor, they wont remember the problems they have in remembering, he says.
This sign is one that often points to Alzheimers disease. In this type of dementia, the hippocampusthe brain area involved in forming, storing and retrieving memoriesmay be affected first. In fact, short-term memory loss is the most common symptom among people with Alzheimers disease, whereas its less often an early sign in vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia, and rarely in FTD.
Medications and depression can also affect memory, so its important to check with your doctor, who might recommend a screening test, such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment30 questions which quickly identify abnormal brain function.
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What Is Rapid Onset Dementia
Dementia can develop as a result of more than 40 different conditions. Rapid onset dementia occurs when the wasting away of brain tissue occurs faster than normal, resulting in more substantial damage in a short amount of time. Although there is no defined timeframe in which rapid onset dementia can occur, many professionals in this field describe it as when patients go from having normal cognition to dementia within one year or less. However, some types of dementia can take upwards of two years.