Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication, and memory.
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, dont immediately conclude that its dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.
In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:
Risk Factors For Dementia
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition.
Some dementia risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. These include:
- age: the older you are, the more likely you are to develop dementia. However, dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- genes: in general, genes alone are not thought to cause dementia. However, certain genetic factors are involved with some of the less common types. Dementia usually develops because of a combination of genetic and “environmental” factors, such as smoking and a lack of regular exercise
- lower levels of education
- keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level
Reversible Causes Of Memory Loss
Its important to remember that memory loss doesnt automatically mean that you have dementia. There are many other reasons why you may be experiencing cognitive problems, including stress, depression, and even vitamin deficiencies. Thats why its so important to go to a doctor to get an official diagnosis if youre experiencing problems.
Sometimes, even what looks like significant memory loss can be caused by treatable conditions and reversible external factors, such as:
Depression. Depression can mimic the signs of memory loss, making it hard for you to concentrate, stay organized, remember things, and get stuff done. Depression is a common problem in older adultsespecially if youre less social and active than you used to be or youve recently experienced a number of important losses or major life changes .
Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. In fact, a lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain. Older people have a slower nutritional absorption rate, which can make it difficult for you to get the B12 your mind and body need. If you smoke or drink, you may be at particular risk. If you address a vitamin B12 deficiency early, you can reverse the associated memory problems. Treatment is available in the form of a monthly injection.
Are you taking three or more drugs?
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Withdraw From Friends And Family
Are you avoiding friends, family, or co-workers? Is it hard to carry on or follow a conversation? When memory problems become more severe, it’s common for people to lose interest in hobbies, social events, or other activities they used to like doing. If that sounds like you, it’s time to talk to someone about it.
Why It’s Important To Get A Diagnosis
Although there is no cure for dementia at the moment, an early diagnosis means its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.
A diagnosis helps people with dementia get the right treatment and support. It can also help them, and the people close to them, to prepare for the future.
Read more about how dementia is diagnosed.
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If Youre Worried About Possible Dementia
Lets say youre like the man I spoke to recently, and youre worried that an older parent might have dementia. Youre planning to have a doctor assess your parent. Heres how you can help the process along:
- Obtain copies of your parents medical information, so you can bring them to the dementia evaluation visit. The most useful information to bring is laboratory results and any imaging of the brain, such as CAT scans or MRIs. See this post for a longer list of medical information that is very helpful to bring to a new doctor.
A Closer Look At Paranoia
Perhaps your loved ones doctor has told you that dementia is causing them to display paranoia, but you arent quite sure what that entails. Put simply, when a person is paranoid, they might harbor suspicions towards nearby people. They could even accuse you of trying to steal from them or harm them.
What can you expect from somebody who has paranoia and dementia? Well, you can anticipate that they will hold on to their paranoid delusions very strongly. The delusions are quite real for them they arent making things up to get attention. Somebody with dementia is simply trying to make sense of the world around them while equipped with declining brain function.
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The Majority Of People With Dementia Dont Know They Have It
These are people who can refuse to take medicine, or insist that they can go to work or the store even when it is not safe to do so.
For such a group, if you ask the question do people with dementia know they have it, the answer will be a resounding no.
This is, however, not to state that every single person with the illness does not know they have it.
Some individuals may actually know depending on the stage dementia is diagnosed.
Developing dementia can be a stressful time for the affected person.
One day they might be living their lives normally and the next they can only recognize their family or friends without perhaps remembering their name among an array of other symptoms.
At this point, a person might think that they are experiencing normal forgetfulness that mostly happens as humans grow older but it may not be the case.
For this reason, it is important to seek medical advice when you suspect that there is something wrong with your health.
This will help get the proper diagnosis to know how to deal with the conditions heads on.
General Care And Support
If you care for or know someone who is living with dementia, it can make you feel frustrated and helpless. Its important to have people around who take time to build empathy and trust, and help provide a safe and predictable environment. Your emotional and physical support will be a great help to the person when the world seems confusing and hostile.
In some cases, its helpful to make changes to a persons home environment to help them feel less disoriented . Visit Health Victorias website for some ideas on creating ‘dementia-friendly environments’.
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What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
Dementia And Paranoia In The Elderly
If a loved one of yours is suffering from dementia, paranoia, or both, it is completely understandable that you would want to learn as much information about the topic as possible. So, we at All American Home Care are compiling our expertise on dementia with paranoia so that you can be equipped to interact with your loved one kindly, confidently, and without fear.
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How Do I Care For Someone With Dementia
Coordinate their care Your loved one will need more care as time goes on. It can be helpful to designate one person who coordinates care and helps them put together a care plan.
Plan ahead It is wise to plan early for the future. Encourage them to arrange for a trusted person to manage their affairs through a power of attorney, and to draw up an advanced care directive explaining what treatments they would prefer if they become unable to give consent later on.
Care for yourself Looking after a loved one with dementia can be tough and draining. Make sure you spend time socialising and meeting other people. Find activities and interests you can draw encouragement from. Give yourself space to rest, grieve and appreciate your loved one.
The Truth About Aging And Dementia
As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimers disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand whats normal and whats not when it comes to brain health.
Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. Its normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.
In the United States, 6.2 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimers disease, the most common type of dementia. People with dementia have symptoms of cognitive decline that interfere with daily lifeincluding disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. Signs to watch for include:
Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. There are 7 ways to help maintain your brain health.
- Not being able to complete tasks without help.
- Trouble naming items or close family members.
- Forgetting the function of items.
- Repeating questions.
- Taking much longer to complete normal tasks.
- Misplacing items often.
- Being unable to retrace steps and getting lost.
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Ways To Reduce And Manage Mean Dementia Behavior
1. Calm the situation downThe first thing to do is reduce the tension in the room.
Start by limiting the distractions in the room, like turning off the TV or asking others to leave.
And if you stay calm, theyre also more likely to calm down.
It might help you to count to 10 or even leave the room for a short time to cool down. Repeat to yourself its the disease as a reminder that theyre not intentionally doing this.
If the current activity seemed to cause the agitation, try shifting to a more pleasant, calming activity. Or, try soft music or a gentle massage.
2. Comfort and reassure while checking for causes of discomfort or fearTake a deep breath, dont argue, and use a calm, soothing voice to reassure and comfort your older adult.
It also helps to speak slowly and use short, direct sentences.
Then, check for possible causes of agitation or fear, like:
- Feeling disturbed by strange surroundings
- Being overwhelmed by complicated tasks
- Frustration because of the inability to communicate
It also helps to focus on their emotions rather than their specific words or actions. Look for the feelings behind what theyre doing as a way to identify the cause.
3. Keep track of and avoid possible triggersWhenever difficult behavior comes up, write down what happened, the time, and the date in a dedicated notebook.
Also think about what was going on just before the behavior started and write that down as a possible trigger.
Taking some time away can help both of you.
What To Expect At Your Doctors Visit
The doctor will ask you a lot of questions about your memory, including:
- How long have you or others noticed a problem with your memory?
- What kinds of things have been difficult to remember?
- Did the difficulty come on gradually or suddenly?
- Are you having trouble doing ordinary things?
The doctor also will want to know what medications youre taking, how youve been eating and sleeping, whether youve been depressed or stressed lately, and other questions about whats been happening in your life. Chances are the doctor will also ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months. If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist.
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Compensating For Memory Loss
The same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute to a healthy memory. So, by taking steps early to prevent cognitive decline, youll also be improving all other aspects of your life as well.
Stay social. People who arent socially engaged with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Quality face-to-face social interaction can greatly reduce stress and is powerful medicine for the brain, so schedule time with friends, join a book club, or visit the local senior center. And be sure to put your phone away and focus fully on the people youre with if you want the full brain benefit.
Stop smoking. Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. When you quit smoking, the brain quickly benefits from improved circulation.
Manage stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. But even before that happens, stress or anxiety can cause memory difficulties in the moment. When youre stressed out or anxious, youre more likely to suffer memory lapses and have trouble learning or concentrating. But simple stress management techniques can minimize these harmful effects.
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Is Dementia Inherited
This is a question we are often asked by family members caring for a parent or grandparent. In rare cases, someone might inherit a gene from one of their parents that doesnt work properly. Having one of these rare mutations makes someone almost certain to develop early-onset Alzheimers, or frontotemporal dementia, during their lifetime. However much more commonly, people can carry risk genes. There are now over 20 risk genes linked to an altered risk of developing typical late-onset Alzheimers, but having one or more of these risk genes does not mean that developing the disease is a certainty.
The most well-known Alzheimers risk gene is called APOE and makes a protein important for keeping our brain cells healthy. There are three different versions of this gene in the population APOE2, APOE3 and APOE4 and we inherit two copies, one from each parent.
While having a risk gene may increase the likelihood of getting dementia, it doesnt mean a person will definitely develop it because there are many factors at play.
People who have one copy of APOE4 are around three times more likely to be affected by Alzheimers and develop the disease at a younger age. A small number of people inherit two copies of APOE4 one from each parent. They may be more than eight times more likely to develop Alzheimers. However, due to the number of other factors that can influence Alzheimers risk, they still may never develop the disease.
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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
Is Forgetfulness Always A Sign Of Dementia
Not all people with memory problems have Alzheimers. Forgetting things is a normal part of life, many people forget where they put their car keys, the birthday of a loved one, or an essential meaning without having Alzheimers or any other form of dementia. It is also true that some persons are very forgetful and careless without having Alzheimers. The following memory lapses are frequent in a regular older persona and are not a cause for concern:
- Occasionally forgetting an appointment or a significant date
- Entering a room and forgetting why you went there
- Being easily distracted.
- Sometimes forgetting where you left things, like your wallet, keys, or phone.
There are two critical differences between these lapses and dementia. The first one is that these lapses are not progressive, which means they dont get worst over time. The other significant difference is that lapses arent disabling, they have little impact on daily life. They do not prevent people from doing anything they want to do. Here are some warning signs of dementia:
- Disorientation: This disorientation extends to both place and time. Dementia patients typically forget where they are and how did they get there. They can get lost on their way to work or home. The might have trouble remembering the month they are in and even the year.
- Personality changes: Alzheimer patients can become anxious, paranoid, and aggressive.
- Forgetting the names and faces of loved ones and the inability to remember words.
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