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Does Alzheimer’s Change Your Appearance

Eyes Hold Clues To Changes In The Brain For Rare Frontotemporal Dementia

How to change your life as a dementia caregiver: A simple way to change your future

Frontotemporal dementia is like Alzheimers disease but attacks much earlier and accounts for just 10-15 percent of dementia cases. It can cause an array of alarming behaviors: Victims say inappropriate things, forget the names of objects and lose the capacity for empathy. As the symptoms worsen, patients require constant care.

But before all of that happens, scientists now say, the eyes undergo a benign change that flags the impending onset of the disease. In people with a genetic predisposition for frontotemporal dementia, their retinas get thinner, a valuable signal for researchers. Neuroscientists at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco reported their findings in the Journal of Experimental Medicine on Monday.

“This finding suggests that the retina acts as a type of ‘window to the brain,'” said lead investigator Dr. Li Gan in a statement. “Retinal degeneration was detectable in mutation carriers prior to the onset of cognitive symptoms, establishing retinal thinning as one of the earliest observable signs of familial . This means that retinal thinning could be an easily measured outcome for clinical trials.”

Source: L. Gan, A. Green, et al. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2014.

Check For Unmet Needs

According to the Alzheimers Society in the UK, when a person with dementia starts to behave in ways that seem out of character, some people wrongly assume this is just another symptom of the condition. Try checking for these unmet needs instead:

  • Physical
  • Are there any infections present?
  • Are there medication side effects that could be causing the change?
  • Try calming agitation from dementia by checking if the person is in pain or discomfort.
  • Social. Isolation can be a big challenge for people with dementia, their loved ones and family members.
  • How have social structures changed since diagnosis?
  • What can you do to support a robust and supportive community?
  • Emotional and psychological. We all have basic emotional and psychological needs. Unfortunately, our current society is not set up to provide support for those needs throughout our lifespan.The Eden Alternative outlines domains of wellbeing necessary for us all. Do a quick check-in with yourself and see how you are doing in these domains, and then check-in with your loved one. Is there an unmet need in one or more of these domains that could be at the root of their personality change?
  • Identity: Being well-known, having personhood, individuality, having a history.
  • Growth: Development, enrichment, expanding, evolving.
  • Autonomy: Liberty, self-determination, choice, freedom.
  • Security: Freedom from doubt, anxiety, or fear, safety, privacy, dignity, respect.
  • Meaning: Significance, heart, hope, value, purpose, sacredness.
  • What Is Alzheimer’s Disease

    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a loss of brain function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior. In Alzheimer’s disease, large numbers of neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die.

    Irreversible and progressive, Alzheimer’s disease slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.

    Although the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, scientists believe that a build-up of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain are associated with the disease.

    The stages of the disease typically progress from mild to moderate to severe. Symptoms usually develop slowly and gradually worsen over a number of years however, progression and symptoms vary from person to person. The first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease usually appears as forgetfulness.

    Mild cognitive impairment is a stage between normal forgetfulness due to aging and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. People with MCI have mild problems with thinking and memory that do not interfere with everyday activities. Not everyone with MCI develops Alzheimer’s disease.

    Other early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include language problems, difficulty performing tasks that require thought, personality changes and loss of social skills.

    People with severe Alzheimer’s disease are unable to recognize family members or understand language.

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    Medications To Treat The Underlying Alzheimer’s Disease Process

    Aducanumab is the first disease-modifying therapy approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimers disease. The medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits in the brain and may help slow the progression of Alzheimers, although it has not yet been shown to affect clinical outcomes such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia. A doctor or specialist will likely perform tests, such as a PET scan or analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, to look for evidence of amyloid plaques and help decide if the treatment is right for the patient.

    Aducanumab was approved through the FDAs Accelerated Approval Program. This process requires an additional study after approval to confirm the anticipated clinical benefit. If the follow-up trial fails to verify clinical benefit, the FDA may withdraw approval of the drug. Results of the phase 4 clinical trial for aducanumab are expected to be available by early 2030.

    Several other disease-modifying medications are being tested in people with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimers as potential treatments.

    What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia

    CNS Aging and Alzheimer

    The onset of dementia is not obvious because the early signs can be vague and quite subtle. The early symptoms usually depend on the kind of dementia that one has and therefore can vary greatly from one person to the next.

    Even though the signs can vary, there are some that are quite common and they include:

    • Depression, apathy, and withdrawal
    • Memory issues, especially when it comes to the most recent events
    • Inability to handle the everyday tasks

    At times, it is easy to miss to appreciate that the above symptoms could be an indication of something that is not right. Yet there are those who assume that the signs are normal and are associated with aging. It is also possible for one to develop the symptoms in a gradual manner and they may go unnoticed for quite some time.

    People may not act even when they can tell that something is definitely wrong. It is important to have a checklist of all signs related to dementia and get the person the needed help when several of such signs are observed. It is important to get a more detailed assessment.

    Memory loss and dementia: while it is normal to forget some things and remember later, persons with dementia tend to forget more frequently and they do not remember later.

    Tasks: distractions can happen and you may forget to, say, serve one part of the family meal. For a person that has dementia, preparing the meal could be problematic and they may actually forget some of the steps that are involved.

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    What Causes Dementia Personality Changes

    We do not fully understand dementia personality changes. However, much of what we do understand falls into five categories:

  • Brain changes. Damage to certain parts of the brain correlates with changes in the parts of life it controls. Here are all of the different parts of the brain and what they are responsible for:
  • Frontal Lobe: Thinking, memory, behavior and movement. Changes here and in the temporal lobe are linked to Frontal Temporal Dementia.
  • Temporal Lobe: Hearing, learning and feeling.
  • Brain Stem: Breathing, heart rate and temperature.
  • Parietal Lobe: Language and touch.
  • Occipital Lobe:
  • Cerebellum: Balance and coordination.
  • Body changes. Changes in personality may actually be manifestations of changes in your loved ones physical body.
  • Infection: Certain infections such as UTIs can cause hallucinations and delusions.
  • Pain: When verbal communication is not available pain can be expressed through personality changes sometimes mislabeled as aggression and agitation.
  • Medication: Certain medications can cause personality changes, so talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about side effects.
  • Psychological changes. Throughout our lifetime we are growing and changing. Our personality is developing. There are parts of us that we can see the seeds of from our earliest days. Other parts of our personality are reactions to our experiences in life.
  • An Increase In Compulsive Ritualistic Behaviors

    One sign of dementia that most people dont expect is the need to complete extreme rituals or compulsive behaviors. Plenty of people have odd habits and like things done a certain way, says Rankin. But while these habits are within the realm of normal, extreme hoarding or detailed rituals or compulsions, such as buying a crossword puzzle book every time they go to the store even if they have hundreds of them, can be dementia symptoms.

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    Eeg Recording Preprocessing And Event

    Electroencephalogram signal was continuously recorded with the BrainAmp system using a Fast’n Easy cap with 59 Ag/AgCl pellet pin electrodes placed according to the 1010 International System. Four additional electrodes were used for monitoring blinks and eye movements. Horizontal and vertical eye movements were detected with electrodes placed at the left and right canthi and above and below the right eye, respectively. Other two extra electrodes served as a ground reference and as an online reference . Electrode impedances were kept below 10 k. The digitization rate was 1,000 Hz with a time constant of 10 s as low cut-off and a high cut-off of 250 Hz.

    Create A Support System

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    Surround yourself and your loved one with people to support you by:

    • Holding onto and making friends who will treat you with kindness and acceptance.
    • Getting professional help to reduce the stress of providing care.
    • Checking out organizations such as Dementia Action Alliance and Dementia Friends to find support and make your community more dementia inclusive.

    There is a push to add testing to look for these changes sooner and diagnose them. This new testing is looking for what is being called Mild Behavioral Impairment. The hope is to be able to detect dementia earlier.

    This kind of testing, however, is a slippery slope into a future where we are not allowed to grow and change. And what of the heightened anxiety due to the massive stigma that comes with a diagnosis? The earlier we diagnose, the longer one has to live with the stigma and without a cure.

    Resources

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    Difficulty Remembering Or Trouble Finding Words

    Its normal for older adults to have lapses in thought here and there. But showing signs of forgetfulness every day is an early warning sign of dementia.

    If your mom is consistently losing track of her thoughts mid-sentence, or if your dad has trouble finding words in casual conversations, these are dementia signs to note.

    Inappropriate Behavior And Loss Of Empathy

    If someone who is usually sweet, considerate, and polite starts to say insulting or inappropriate things and shows no awareness of their inappropriateness or concern or regret about what theyve said they could be exhibiting an early sign of dementia. In the early stages of some types of dementia, symptoms can include losing the ability to read social cues and, therefore, the ability to understand why its not acceptable to say hurtful things.

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    Tips For Common Behavior And Mood Changes

    Aggressive & Threatening Behavior

    Sometimes things can get out of control and feel very scary. These are tips and strategies for dealing with especially challenging behaviors. If you think that you or others may be in immediate danger, call 911.

    THEN

    The person with dementia is threatening you or acting physically violent, such as hitting, pushing, or kicking you

    • Give the person space and time to calm down.
    • Stay out of arms reach and position yourself near the exit.
    • Avoid small spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and cars.
    • Remove or secure objects that could be used as weapons.
    • Reduce background noise .
    • Keep a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
    • Go outside, to a neighbors house, or public place if needed to stay safe.
    • Take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
    • Listen.
    • Empathize/apologize: I am sorry this is so frustrating.
    • Offer reassurance: I know this is difficult. It is going to be okay, or I am here to help.
    • Give yourself a break take time to care for your own needs.
    • Get help .
    • Tell the dispatcher your name and location and that your family member has dementia. Tell the dispatcher if a weapon is involved.

    The person with dementia is angry and accusing you of something that is not true, such as stealing from or cheating on them

    The person with dementia is throwing fits or having emotional outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, or banging on things

    Anxiety Related to Dementia

    THEN

  • Regular exercise may be another outlet for nervous energy.
  • Apathy

    What Are Common Symptoms Of Dementia

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    According to experts, the most common symptom of dementia is short-term memory loss. This includes forgetting something that happened or was said within the last 10-15 minutes, repeating oneself and asking the same questions.

    Dr. Andrew Frank, a cognitive neurologist at the Bruyere Memory Program at Ottawas Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital, lists other symptoms as deterioration in language, words and judgement.

    The odd forgetfulness of a word or name that comes back to you later is normal, especially as we age or if we are stressed or sleep deprived. Its when the memories are not coming back at all that’s a signal of a much deeper problem.

    One of the rules of thumb is that if youre realizing your own memory problem, thats a good sign because youre remembering youre forgetting, Frank explains in an interview with Yahoo Canada. Its more serious if you are not realizing that youre forgetting, meaning youre forgetting that youre forgetting and that can be a sign of something more serious like dementia.

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    Why Do Dementia Patients Stop Talking

    There are many signs that can tell you death is near for a dementia payment. Even though you may be prepared for the end, it is never easy. The ten signs that death is near include:

  • Sleeping. The patient may stop responding or may be more sleepy than usual
  • Loss of interest in fluids and food
  • Coolness: the patients legs, feet, arms, hands, ears, and nose may feel cool to touch because of the decrease in circulation
  • Change in the color of the skin because of the low circulation of blood usually called mottling
  • Rattling sounds within the throat and lungs
  • Bowel and bladder changes
  • Changing vital signs
  • Alzheimers Treatment And Support

    While there are currently no treatments available to slow or stop the brain damage caused by Alzheimerâs disease, several medications can temporarily help improve the symptoms of dementia for some people. These medications work by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain. To learn about the availability of anti-dementia medications through the National Health System, visit Alzheimer Europe.

    Help Is AvailableFind local support groups and services through the Alzheimer’s Society website.

    Researchers continue to search for ways to better treat Alzheimer’s and other progressive dementias. Currently, dozens of therapies and pharmacologic treatments that focus on stopping the brain cell death associated with Alzheimer’s are underway.

    In addition, having support systems in place and the use of non-pharmacologic behavioral interventions can improve quality of life for both people with dementia and their caregivers and families. This includes:

    • Treatment of co-existing medical conditions
    • Coordination of care among health care professionals
    • Participation in activities, which can improve mood
    • Behavioral interventions
    • Education about the disease
    • Building a care team for support

    Dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion per year. That is twice that of cancer, three times the impact of heart disease and four times that of stroke.

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    Gait And Motor Activity

    Different types of dementia can affect gait and posture, and as dementia progresses into the later stages, the majority of the person’s functioning declines. You may observe this as hesitant steps, difficulty with visuospatial tasks such as going up and down stairs, or challenges with balance. You may also see decreased physical movement due to apathy, or increased movement such as frequent wandering and restlessness.

    No : Keep Stress In Check

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    The kind of short-term, low-dose stress created by exercise is great for your body and brain. On the flip side, the long-term, chronic stress that so many of us face in our modern world drives chronic disease, including Alzheimers. So, make sure you take time to relax every day and ideally multiple times a day. Meditation is a great tool. Try using apps like Headspace and Waking Up, which offer wonderful guided meditations for those of us who are new to the ancient practice. Spending time in nature is also a wonderful way to unwind.

    My recommendation is to start with the strategies that seem easiest for you to implement and go from there. The most important thing is to take steps forward. Any of these healthy lifestyle changes will help you do what you can to prevent Alzheimers disease from happening to you.

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    What Colours Do People With Dementia Like

    Color preferences for individuals with dementia are red, blue and green. For instance, blue is a restful color with a calming effect. Research shows that using blue in the physical environment can actually lower blood pressure, and that blue rooms are seemingly cooler than rooms painted in shades of red or orange.

    Why Early Detection Can Be Difficult

    Alzheimers disease usually is not diagnosed in the early stages, even in people who visit their primary care doctors with memory complaints.

    • People and their families generally underreport the symptoms.
    • They may confuse them with normal signs of aging.
    • The symptoms may emerge so gradually that the person affected doesnt recognize them.
    • The person may be aware of some symptoms but go to great lengths to conceal them.

    Recognizing symptoms early is crucial because medication to control symptoms is most effective in the early stages of the disease and early diagnosis allows the individual and his or her family members to plan for the future. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact a physician.

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