Coping With Alzheimers And Parkinsons Disease
Living with both Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease is extremely challenging. The dementia of Alzheimers combined with the movement effects of Parkinsons can make self-care especially difficult.
Rivastigmine is the only medication that is specifically approved for the treatment of Parkinsons dementia. Additionally, you may need medication for the motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease and medication to help with other symptoms, such as dry skin.
Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
Myth: Dementia And Alzheimers Are The Same Thing
Although they are often bracketed together and used interchangeably, dementia is the umbrella term that covers a lot of different conditions, including Alzheimers disease, which is the most common form of dementia, responsible for around two thirds of the cases of dementia in the UK.
Dementia, which is a result of brain disease, and different from normal healthy ageing, can result in a number of different symptoms, including memory loss, or confusion in the way someone thinks, explains Dr Tim Beanland. They might forget words, or have difficulty planning ahead and doing sequences of things.
Most people think dementia is primarily about memory loss, and while that is true of Alzheimers, other forms of dementia can present in different ways. For example, vascular dementia, sometimes caused by a stroke, is often characterised by an inability to make decisions, and memory loss is not as prominent early on as it would be with Alzheimers.
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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.
What Do We Know About Stress And Dementia
Unfortunately, this is one of the areas where theres just not enough evidence to draw a conclusion yet, Dr Beanland says.
We know that stress affects the immune system, which has a role to play in dementia, and that it can be associated with depression and lack of sleep, which can also be risk factors. But it is quite a hard thing to investigate as its tricky to objectively measure how stressed someone is.
A 2014 review of the scientific literature on stress and dementia risk concluded that stress could play a role in dementia development but that it was unlikely to be the only factor that causes the condition.
Ultimately, there are a lot of reasons why prolonged stress is not good for your health, which means there are a lot of reasons and not just your risk of dementia to try to do something about it if you can.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually and become more severe over the course of several years. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems. For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- hallucinations and delusions
- low mood or anxiety
Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
When Should A Dementia Patient Stop Eating
But if the person appears indifferent to eating, or shows other signs of not wanting food turning away, not willingly opening their mouth, spitting food out, coughing or choking the document says attempts to feed should be stopped. And the guidelines tell caregivers to respect those actions.Nov 3, 2017
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What Are Pd Dementia Safety Concerns
Safety issues should be considered and monitored from the time of diagnosis. As PDD progresses, ensure that your loved one is not left alone.
- Evaluate driving privileges before safety is a concern. Your doctor can make a driving evaluation referral.
- Work out legal and financial issues and safeguard finances. People with dementia are at greater risk of falling victim to scams and fraud.
- Minimize prescription risks. Confirm with the doctor the medication names and doses of the person with PD. If the person is in dementias early stages and capable, fill up their weekly pill box together and monitor use.
- Medical alert systems can be critical in case your loved one falls or wanders outside of the home. Many types of systems are available, from bracelets and pendants to smart watches with fall detection and one-button connections to 911.
- Evaluate gun safety. If your loved one owns a firearm or has one in the home, consider speaking with their doctor about the subject and taking appropriate safety precautions.
Why You Dont Want To Install A Wood
The Lancet research flagged that reducing your exposure to air pollution was one of the 12 most significant ways you could reduce your risk of dementia.
When youre out and about, try not to walk along the most polluted roads, says Prof Gill Livingston. Just walking two or three roads back can make a difference.
And if you have no choice, wear a mask. Although there are no long-term studies on masks, pollution and dementia, we know that masks filter out particles, so it makes sense they would make a difference, even if we dont know for sure.
You should be pretty safe once youre at home, says Prof Livingston unless you have an open fire, or you smoke. She warns against installing a wood-burning stove, though and not just for green reasons. Wood-burning stoves are intensely polluting of the air, and the particles that they produce are of the size that can lead to dementia.
Radiators might not be as trendy, but they might just save your brain.
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Treatable Causes Of Dementia
There are many conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms that can sometimes be stopped or even reversed with treatment. These conditions include:
- Side effects of certain medicines
- Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- Certain vitamin deficiencies
- Blood clots, tumors, or infections in the brain
- Delirium, a sudden state of confusion and disorientation
- Head injury, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
- Thyroid, kidney, or liver problems
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
Talk with your doctor if you experience serious memory problems or other symptoms of dementia. A proper diagnosis is important to getting the right treatment.
How To Understand The Difference And Why It Matters
by Kathleen Fifield, AARP, Updated June 15, 2020
Doctors usually rely on observation and ruling out other factors to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
En español | The terms dementia and Alzheimers have been around for more than a century, which means people have likely been mixing them up for that long, too. But knowing the difference is important. In the simplest terms, one is broader than the other. If the two were nesting dolls, Alzheimers would fit inside dementia, but not the other way around. While Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia , there are several other types. The second most common form, vascular dementia, has a very different cause namely, high blood pressure. Other types of dementia include alcohol-related dementia, Parkinsons dementia and frontotemporal dementia each has different causes as well. In addition, certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia.
A correct diagnosis means the right medicines, remedies and support. For example, knowing that you have Alzheimers instead of another type of dementia might lead to a prescription for a cognition-enhancing drug instead of an antidepressant. Finally, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for Alzheimers if youve been specifically diagnosed with the disease.
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Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia
Neither Alzheimerâs nor most other types of dementia have a cure. Doctors focus treatments on managing symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.
Some of the treatments for dementia and Alzheimerâs overlap.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors can help with memory loss in certain types of dementia and Alzheimerâs.
- Glutamate inhibitors help with learning and memory in both dementia and Alzheimerâs.
- Sleep medications may help with sleep changes.
- Antidepressants can help with depression symptoms.
- Antipsychotic medications may help with behavior changes.
Some types of dementia respond to treatment, depending on what is causing it. Your doctor may recommend:
- Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol
- Tumor removal
Alzheimerâs Association: âCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,â âFrontotemporal Dementia,â âTypes of Dementia,â âWhat is Alzheimerâs?â
Alzheimerâs Disease International: âWorld Alzheimerâs Report 2015.â
Alzheimerâs Society: âSight, perception and hallucinations in dementia.â
BrightFocus Foundation: âWhatâs the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimerâs Disease?â âTreatments for Alzheimerâs Disease.â
Dementia Society of America: âDementia FAQs.â
Fisher Center for Alzheimerâs Research Foundation: âDementia vs. Alzheimerâs.â
Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio: âAlzheimerâs Versus Dementia.â
Mayo Clinic: âAlzheimerâs Disease,â âDementia.â
Cleveland Clinic: âDementia.â
Myth: Too Much Sleep Will Give You Alzheimers
Although sleep doesnt feature in the 12 risk factors that the Lancet research covers, Prof Livingston says it was an area that they did look at in great detail. That is because there has been a suggestion that getting less than six hours or more than 7½ hours sleep is associated with dementia. But according to the experts, many of these studies look at people within a few years of developing dementia, and thats a problem.
Because dementia comes on slowly, if someone has problems with their sleep either sleeping too much or sleeping too little it may be an early indicator of dementia, rather than a case of the amount of sleep that they have causing dementia, says Dr Beanland.
We think that having less than six hours sleep in midlife may increase your risk of dementia, says Prof Livingston. Thats because during sleep the body clears out one of the proteins related to Alzheimers. So we think aiming for seven or eight hours sleep or at any rate more than six is probably a good approach. But you shouldnt worry if youre sleeping for longer than that.
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Do You Die From Pd Dementia
People with Parkinsons-related dementia often want to know how the disease can impact their lifespan. While people with Parkinsons can expect a similar lifespan to the general population, studies show both Parkinsons disease dementia and Lewy body dementia can shorten lifespan, generally due to medical complications from the disease, rather than the disease itself.
Tests For Vascular Dementia
There’s no single test for vascular dementia.
The tests that are needed to make a diagnosis include:
- an assessment of symptoms for example, whether these are typical symptoms of vascular dementia
- a full medical history, including asking about a history of conditions related to vascular dementia, such as strokes or high blood pressure
- an assessment of mental abilities this will usually involve several tasks and questions
- a brain scan, such as an MRI scan or CT scan, to look for any changes that have happened in your brain
Find out more about the tests used to diagnose dementia.
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Treatments For Vascular Dementia
There’s currently no cure for vascular dementia and there’s no way to reverse any loss of brain cells that happened before the condition was diagnosed.
But treatment can sometimes help slow down vascular dementia.
Treatment aims to tackle the underlying cause, which may reduce the speed at which brain cells are lost.
This will often involve:
- taking medicines, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, lower cholesterol or prevent blood clots
Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging
No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:
- Occasionally misplacing car keys
- Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
- Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
- Forgetting the most recent events
Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.
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Therapies For Mixed Dementia
As well as drug treatments, there are other therapies that may help to improve function or quality of life. These include cognitive behavioural therapy, cognitive stimulation therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and reminiscence therapy. Learn more about the different approaches for coping with memory loss. A person with mixed dementia involving Lewy body disease may be offered physiotherapy to help with movement problems.
However Those With Dementia Are Also Vulnerable To Theft And Financial Abuse
Though many cases of “theft” are imagined by those with dementia, it’s important to remember that people who suffer from cognitive decline are in fact more vulnerable to various forms of abuse, including financial. This may occur in the form of stealing, financial manipulation, forced changes to a will, forged checks, and more.
“One of the biggest risk factors for financial abuse is having some form of cognitive impairment, whether mild or more substantial such as Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia,” explains Better Health While Aging, an informational site on healthy aging and elder care. “Sometimes the person suspected of exploitation is relatively new to the older person’s life, such as a new romantic interest, friend, or paid caregiver. In other cases, family members become concerned that someone in the familysuch as one of the older person’s childrenis beginning to take financial advantage of things,” the organization notes.
For this reason, if someone you know who is suffering from dementia has shared concerns about theft or other forms of financial exploitation, you should follow up and attempt to rule it out.
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Medication For Mixed Dementia
The most common kinds of medication used to treat mixed dementia are cholinesterase inhibitors. These boost levels of a chemical in the brain that helps cells communicate with each other. Unfortunately, theres currently no medication that can improve the symptoms of vascular dementia. However, someone with vascular disease may be able to prevent strokes or other events by continuing to take their medication for high blood pressure or diabetes.
Myth: Viagra Could Treat Alzheimers
It would be nice if an existing drug could help in this way but Prof Livingston says that the research that shows this looks at correlation, rather than causation. So it does seem that users of Viagra were less likely to develop Alzheimers but that doesnt mean that the drug was stopping them from getting it.
Only people who are relatively healthy sexually active and in good cardiac health are going to be taking these medications, and if theyre in good health, theyre less likely to have dementia, she says. More research is needed, but in short dont go taking those blue pills thinking they will protect your brain.
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Myth: Theres No Link Between Covid
The relationship between viruses, infections and dementia is really interesting and something were continuing to think about and do work on, says Prof Livingston.
Theres some evidence that when people who have dementia get flu infections, it accelerates the rate of their deterioration, even when the infection has cleared up. And were particularly interested in the impact of Covid-19 as we know a lot of people present with symptoms of mental confusion rather than respiratory ones, so there is concern about the impact Covid-19 might have on the future risk of dementia.
One small US study showed that when researchers looked at the cerebral spinal fluid of Covid-19 patients, there seemed to be an increase in the sort of markers associated with non-specific brain damage and also seen at higher levels in people with Alzheimers and motor neurone disease. It was just one study, but its definitely an area that needs further research.
In the meantime, it seems the message is clear: get vaccinated, get your boosters, wear a mask.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Lewy Body Dementia And Alzheimers Disease Whats The Difference
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Whats the difference between Lewy body dementia and Alzheimers? How is Lewy body dementia diagnosed?
ANSWER: Doctors diagnose Lewy body dementia based on the range of symptoms a person shows. Generally, a Lewy body dementia diagnosis requires an ongoing decline in thinking skills, along with two of the following: visual hallucinations, Parkinsonism or fluctuating alertness. In addition, people who have Lewy body dementia also may experience a sleep condition known as REM sleep behavior disorder, in which people act out their dreams while they sleep. They also may have instability in their blood pressure and heart rate, and the body may have difficulty controlling body temperature and sweating.
A brain disease that gets worse over time, Lewy body dementia is caused by an abnormal protein, called synuclein, which is deposited in certain nerve cells and nerve processes. These deposits are called Lewy bodies named after the physician who first identified them. In Lewy body dementia, Lewy bodies are found in the deep structures of the brain that control movement, as well as in the middle and outer structures involved in emotion, behavior, judgment and awareness.
Lewy body dementia is a complex disease, and it can be difficult to control. Currently, theres no cure. But, when treatment is carefully managed, symptoms may be reduced, so they have less effect on a persons daily functioning and quality of life.
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