How Is Dementia Treated
Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. For example, dementia that has developed due to vitamin deficiency can be treated with vitamin supplements and hence is reversible. Other causes of dementia such as depression, thyroid problems can also be treated.
For progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, no treatment can halt its progression, and research is still going on to find out the same. But, some medications may temporarily help relieve its symptoms such as memory loss and confusion. These are:
A Person With Dementia Feels Confused More And More Often When They Cant Make Sense Of The World Or Get Something Wrong They May Feel Frustrated And Angry With Themselves They May Become Angry Or Upset With Other People Very Easily They Might Not Be Able To Say Why They May Not Know Why
Everyone feels confused sometimes. Its the feeling you get when things dont make sense, or you dont know what you should be doing.
If someone seems angry with you, it can feel horrible. Remember that its not your fault, and its not their fault. It happens because the persons brain is not well. They may not be able to control their emotions any more. They may not be able to put themselves in your shoes, and realise they are upsetting you.
People with dementia can still feel nice feelings, too. They can feel happy, safe and calm. Some people with dementia may seem like their usual self almost every day and you may only notice small changes every now and then. Some people with dementia may not have as many good days. Those days when they do feel more like their old self can be particularly special.
Everyone with dementia is different. Dont be afraid to ask questions. If the person you know has not been ill for very long, they may be able to tell you what dementia feels like for them.
A person who has had dementia for longer may not be able to tell you how they feel. But you can learn to recognise when they are feeling happy, safe and calm.
Support Groups And Counseling For Caregivers
Caring for a person with dementia can be very difficult. It affects every aspect of your life, including family relationships, work, financial status, social life, and physical and mental health. You may feel unable to cope with the demands of caring for a dependent, difficult relative. Besides the sadness of seeing the effects of your loved one’s disease, you may feel frustrated, overwhelmed, resentful, and angry. These feelings may, in turn, leave you feeling guilty, ashamed, and anxious. Depression in caregivers is not uncommon.
Different caregivers have different thresholds for tolerating these challenges. For many caregivers, just “venting” or talking about the frustrations of caregiving can be enormously helpful. Others need more but may feel uneasy about asking for the help they need. One thing is certain, though: If the caregiver is given no relief, he or she can burn out, develop his or her own mental and physical problems, and become unable to care for the person with dementia.
This is why support groups were invented. Support groups are groups of people who have lived through the same set of difficult experiences and want to help themselves and others by sharing coping strategies. Mental health professionals strongly recommend that family caregivers take part in support groups. Support groups serve a number of different purposes for a person living with the extreme stressof being a caregiver for a person with dementia.
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Does Dementia Come And Go
My mom can be very lucid and aware most of the time but then be rather frightening. She called me at the grocery store about 8:00pm and said she had just wakened up and didn’t know if it was night or day and was confused. Couldn’t get her “bearings” and wasn’t sure if she should have taken her 7:30 meds or not. Took abit of taking to her to convince her it was night time. Simple things she is totally confused or forgetful about yet can do other things rather well.
Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey
In a new episode of the Age Space Podcast, we talk to Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster, sharing his thoughts and advice on dementia. This includes identifying the early signs of dementia, details of memory services, supporting those with dementia to live well, psychological therapies, supporting carers and much more. Listen to the dementia explained podcast.
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Putting Things In The Wrong Place
This is different to: more normal age-related behaviours such as losing things but being able to retrace the steps to find them.
Losing things or putting things in strange places, and then being unable to retrace steps to find them again, is on the official observation list for early signs of dementia.
Sometimes someone else might be accused of stealing which may occur more frequently over time. For example, your dad may insist that a friend keeps stealing his money, whereas its in its regular hiding place.
Other examples that may indicate potential dementia symptoms could include:
- Teabags in the fridge and leaving the milk out
- Toothbrush in the washing basket
- Remote control in the cutlery drawer
- Dirty laundry in the dishwasher
Misplacing or losing items is more common in Alzheimers Disease, rather than vascular dementia. Find out more about the different types of dementia.
Can Dementia Come And Go
Nearly everyone who cares for someone with dementia has a story like this:
Just yesterday, mom spent most of the day sitting quietly and barely said a word. When I brought her lunch, she looked at me like I was a stranger. This morning, she greeted me cheerfully and called me by name. A few minutes later she was working on a crossword puzzle. Could it be that shes getting better?
Dementia once it has been officially diagnosed does not go away, but the symptoms can come and go and the condition can manifest itself differently depending on the person. The symptoms and signs of Alzheimers or dementia progress at different rates. There are different stages, but it doesnt ever go away.
Dementia progresses rapidly for some people, while it takes years to reach an advanced stage for others. People with mild dementia may still be able to function independently, with memory lapses that have a minimal impact on daily life, such as forgetting words or where things are located.
While Alzheimers and other common forms of dementia are progressive in nature and cannot be reversed , sometimes symptoms fade and individuals can enjoy periods of relative stability. This happens for a number of reasons.
Dogs Like Many Other Nonhuman Animals And Humans Suffer Cognitive Decline
A few days ago I received an email from a friend, Rod, that read: “You’ve met my pal Jack who celebrates his 12th birthday next week. As of late, say the last couple months, Jack has awoken after maybe 30 minutes of seemingly sound sleep. He comes awake in a start, head and ears down, clambering quickly to run from whatever has terrified him in his dream. He goes a short distance and then stops, wide awake. This happens a few times a week and is not dependent on sleeping in a specific location. It had been suggested to give him some melatonin prior to bed to help his sleep pattern, but that does not seem to have much effect. I wondered if you have encountered anything similar. I always try to comfort him after the fact, but so wish there was something I could do to alleviate his terror before it occurs.”
I immediately wrote back and said that perhaps Jack is suffering from a form of sundowners syndrome, that can include different forms of confusion, anxiety, aggression, ignoring directions, pacing, or wandering. I was relieved when Rod wrote back and concluded that most likely Jack’s behavior was caused by bad dreams.
Chahal summarizes the symptoms of dog dementia as follows:
He stresses that these don’t always indicate dementia. These behavior changes can also be caused by separation anxiety, arthritis, declines in hearing or seeing, or kidney or liver disease.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia Symptoms
My dad seems to be tired all the time lately how do I know the difference between age-related changes and dementia symptoms?
Sleep disruption is common with regards to both age-related sleep patterns and signs of early onset dementia so it can be tricky to work out whats going on. But if you look out for accompanying symptoms specific to dementia you may be able to tell the difference. If you suspect it is more than just sleepiness make an appointment with your parents GP.For more information on how dementia symptoms can affect sleep please read our article on dementia and sleep.
What do I do if I think my mum or dad has dementia?
The GP should be the first point of call if you suspect your parent is suffering from signs of early onset dementia. If the doctor suspects your parent has dementia they will refer them to a memory clinic or specialist. For further details on the process please visit our guide on diagnosing dementia.
How does the dementia diagnosis process work?How are dementia symptoms treated?
Unfortunately, dementia cant be cured but it can be slowed down significantly, especially if diagnosed earlier on. For more details on drugs used, visit our guide on dementia treatment.
How To Best Respond
Families and friends of those affected by dementia often do not know how to respond when their loved ones rely on these remote memories, at heart, living in the past. Its certainly not the case that these remote memories should be ignored or suppressed.
Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality, families and carers may try to enter their reality building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. This is known as validation therapy but many families and carers will practise this technique without knowing its name.
Reminiscence therapy has also been shown to increase mood, well-being and behaviour in those with dementia. This involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences .
Alzheimers Australia has some fantastic help sheets and phone line to help carers and family members communicate with loved ones with dementia.
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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
What To Do If They Refuse To Let Go Of The Idea
Sometimes, your older adult will refuse to let go of the idea of going home, no matter how much you try to soothe or redirect.
If that happens, you might need to agree to take them home and then go for a brief car ride.
Experiment with how long it takes before you can take them home without protest. Or, suggest a stop at the ice cream shop, drugstore, or grocery store to distract and redirect.
If its not possible to actually take them out or get into the car, even going through the actions of getting ready to leave can still be soothing. This will shows that you agree with them and are helping to achieve their goal.
Meanwhile, the activities of getting ready give you more chances to distract and redirect to something else.
Keep in mind that not everything you try will work the first time. And even if something works once, it might not work the next time.
Do your best to stay calm, flexible, and creative this technique gets easier with practice.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia
Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.
The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include:
- Experiencing memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
- Difficulty speaking, understanding and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
- Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
- Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
- Repeating questions
- Not caring about other peoples feelings
- Losing balance and problems with movement
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. Its important to consider a persons current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.
Being Confused About Time Or Place
Dementia can make it hard to judge the passing of time. People may also forget where they are at any time.
They may find it hard to understand events in the future or the past and may struggle with dates.
Visual information can be challenging for a person with dementia. It can be hard to read, to judge distances, or work out the differences between colors.
Someone who usually drives or cycles may start to find these activities challenging.
A person with dementia may find it hard to engage in conversations.
They may forget what they are saying or what somebody else has said. It can be difficult to enter a conversation.
People may also find their spelling, punctuation, and grammar get worse.
Some peoples handwriting becomes more difficult to read.
A person with dementia may not be able to remember where they leave everyday objects, such as a remote control, important documents, cash, or their keys.
Misplacing possessions can be frustrating and may mean they accuse other people of stealing.
It can be hard for someone with dementia to understand what is fair and reasonable. This may mean they pay too much for things, or become easily sure about buying things they do not need.
Some people with dementia also pay less attention to keeping themselves clean and presentable.
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Support Their Cultural And Spiritual Needs
Its good to be aware of the persons cultural and spiritual needs and make sure these are respected and supported. You can make use of any advance care plans or documents, friends and family input and your knowledge of the person. Its important to try and meet these needs as much as possible, they are just as important as medical care.
Sudden Dementia In The Elderly Can Be Life Threatening
If an elderly loved one is mentally alert one day and confused or delirious the next it may not be Alzheimers Disease. Sudden signs of dementia is one obvious symptom of a considerable number of medical conditions that are potentially life threatening if untreated.
If you notice symptoms of delirium in a loved one develop suddenly, call their doctor immediately, or better yet get them to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.
I recently went through this with my sharp as a tack mother. After breaking her hip and staying in a skilled nursing facility for several weeks she was severely confused and disoriented upon check out. She knew her name and birthday, but couldnt tell you the name of the street she lived on and was even struggling to come up with the right words and lost her train of thought mid-sentence. Absolutely nothing like her normal state.
At first I thought they may have given her the wrong medication at the skilled nursing facility, but after a call to her insurance company nurse line I took her to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night. They kept her for 6 days treating a urinary tract infection, hypercalcemia and lacunar strokes.
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