Tips For Dementia Care
Dementia can be challenging for both patients and caregivers but knowing what to expect can help ease the journey. Caregivers may not be able to anticipate the level of dementia on a daily basis, but they can be prepared to manage the varying symptoms of dementia as they progress.
The different stages of dementia require different degrees of caregiving. 2 With mild dementia, people may still be able to function independently, however, theyll experience memory lapses that affect daily life, such as forgetting words or where things are located.
People experiencing moderate dementia will likely need more assistance in their daily lives as it becomes harder for them to perform daily activities and self-care. They may hallucinate, get lost easily and forget where they are, and not remember what day of the week it is.
Someone with severe dementia will likely lose their ability to communicate and need full-time daily assistance with tasks such as eating and dressing. They may not remember their own name or the names of others. Physical activity and ability may be seriously impaired and they may be more susceptible to infections, such as pneumonia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
Can Dementia Cause Aggressive Behaviour
As a persons dementia progresses, they may sometimes behave in ways that are physically or verbally aggressive.
This can be very distressing for the person and for those around them. Looking at what causes this behaviour and being aware of the persons needs can help to reduce this behaviour or make it easier to manage.
- verbal for example, swearing, screaming, shouting or making threats
- physical for example, hitting, pinching, scratching, hair-pulling, biting or throwing things.
Some people assume that aggressive behaviour is a symptom of dementia itself. This can be true, but its more likely that there is another cause. Its important to see beyond the behaviour and think about what may be causing it. Reasons for the persons behaviour could include:
- difficulties to do with dementia for example, memory loss, language or orientation problems
- their mental and physical health for example, they may have pain or discomfort that they are unable to communicate
- the amount and type of contact they have with another person or other people
- their physical surroundings for example, if the room is too dark the person may become confused and distressed because they cant work out where they are
- a sense of being out of control, frustration with the way others are behaving, or a feeling that theyre not being listened to or understood
- frustration and confusion at not being able to do things, or at not being able to make sense of what is happening around them.
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Take Part In Dementia Research
There are many dementia research projects and clinical trials going on around the world, many of which are based in the UK.
If you have a dementia diagnosis or are worried about memory problems, you can help scientists understand more about it, and develop possible treatments, by taking part in research.
Carers can also take part, as there are studies into the best ways to care for someone with a dementia diagnosis.
Research Into The Cause Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is characterised by the presence of abnormal spherical structures, called Lewy bodies, which develop inside nerve cells in the brain. Lewy bodies are accumulations of a protein called alpha-synuclein. It is thought that these contribute to the degeneration and death of nerve cells.
Dementia with Lewy bodies sometimes co-occurs with Alzheimers disease and/or vascular dementia. It may also be hard to distinguish dementia with Lewy bodies from Parkinsons disease, which is also associated with Lewy bodies, and some people who have Parkinsons disease develop a similar dementia.
At present there is no known cause of dementia with Lewy bodies and no risk factors have been identified. In very rare cases, the disease appears to be inherited, but a genetic cause has not yet been found. In short, we do not know why Lewy bodies form in the brain and research continues in the attempt to find an answer. Much of this research is focussed on searching for the genetic roots of dementia with Lewy bodies, exploring the mechanisms of alpha-synuclein accumulation, and discovering how Lewy bodies cause the particular symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies.
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Coping With A Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with dementia is a life-changing experiencefor both you and your loved ones. It can turn your world upside down and leave you grappling with a host of conflicting emotions, from shock, anger, and grief to profound sadness and isolation.
While there is currently no cure for dementia, a diagnosis doesnt mean that your life is over. There are treatments available for the symptoms. There are also steps you can take to help slow the progression of the disease and delay the onset of more debilitating symptoms, enabling you to prolong your independence and live a rich and full life for longer.
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How Is Dementia Diagnosed
To diagnosis dementia, testing is performed by doctors. While in-office screening assessments are sometimes enough to confirm a diagnosis, at other times a more in-depth evaluation is required. Blood testing and imaging studies are often completed to confirm that reversible conditions such as thyroid disease or certain vitamin deficiencies are not present.
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How Can I Turn A No Into A Yes
Whenever I ask dad if he wants to go out for a drive, go into the garden, work on some chores, or take a walk, he always declines. I get so frustrated my new nickname for him is Dr. No!
One of the most common frustrations among family caregivers is the propensity for people with dementia to say No! Loved ones cant understand why people living with dementia so often say no and refuse to do the very things theyve done willingly and eagerly in the past.
The reasons are actually pretty straightforward. Dementia impacts memory, reasoning and language. Its hard for the person with dementia to understand what we ask of them. When we are asked to do something we dont understand or we feel uncomfortable with how do we respond? No!
Like the rest of us, people living with dementia have the right to say no. Because of their dementia, however, they often make poor decisions. A good way for family members to approach the nos is to ask themselves, What would dad have done years ago? Would he have enjoyed the outing? Would he have wanted to be dressed in clean clothes? Would he have wanted me to be this stressed or would he have been willing to get some in home help so I could be sure he is safe and healthy?
Heres an example of how you can use that technique with your family member:
Lets say you are trying to get Mom to sit in the garden on a beautiful day.
This time she says yes.
Turn No to Yes
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.
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Are There Medicines To Treat Ad
Though there is no cure for AD yet, there are medications that help manage the symptoms. There are two general types of medications used to treat AD, the cholinesterase inhibitors and one NMDA receptor antagonist . These medications can help improve cognition, but they do not reverse or slow down the disease process in the brain. Often times, people with AD can have mood changes, such as depression or irritability. These can be managed by medications like the ones used for depression or anxiety.
Variables Impacting Life Expectancy Calculations
Gender. Men dont live as long with Alzheimers as women. A study of more than 500 people diagnosed with Alzheimers disease between 1987 and 1996 found that women with Alzheimers live, on average, 20% longer than men. Age. Someone diagnosed at 65 lives an average of about eight years, while someone over 90 who gets a diagnosis typically lives about three-and-a-half more years. Strength of Symptoms at Diagnosis. If someone is showing especially severe dementia-related problems at the time of diagnosis, this usually leads to an earlier death. Someone who wanders, is prone to falling, and experiences urinary incontinence , will typically not live as long. A lower mini-mental state examination score at the time of diagnosis will also not live as long. Other Health Problems. A person with a history of heart problems or asthma or diabetes, for example, will not live as long as someone without those underlying issues.
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Causes Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which damages and eventually kills brain cells.
This can happen as a result of:
- narrowing and blockage of the small blood vessels inside the brain
- a single stroke, where the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly cut off
- lots of “mini strokes” that cause tiny but widespread damage to the brain
Not everyone who has a stroke will go on to develop vascular dementia.
Read more about vascular dementia.
Understanding Why Someone With Dementia Is Being Mean
Does dementia cause meanness or is something else going on? The short answer is that most of us dont really understand which cognitive skills dementia takes away. More importantly, we do not realize which skills are not lost. And so we inadvertently embarrass people and unintentionally belittle or frustrate them without realizing what weve done. We then find ourselves on the receiving end of a verbal or physical blow with no idea what went wrong, and their response seems unwarranted or crazy.
But think about how you feel when someone you loveor someone you expect kindness fromstarts doing things that make you feel bad. None of us behave well when we feel that were being taken advantage of, made fun of, or picked on. When that happens, we feel indignant and angry and usually tell the other person why. Anger, aggression, frustration, and just plain meanness result when we feel that were not being treated fairly or respectfullyespecially if it happens over and over again with people whom we are close to or expect better from.
This doesnt change when we begin to experience dementia. What changes is the skills we have available to work with. Dementia takes away skills weve been using our entire lives. And even if our companions love us dearly, their attempts to help us often make us feel worse.
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Common Forms Of Dementia
There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitive physical injuries to the brain or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.
Faqs About Mean Dementia Behaviors
Why is my mom with dementia so angry?
The short answer is that most of us dont really understand which cognitive skills dementia takes away. More importantly, we do not realize which skills are not lost. And so we inadvertently embarrass people and unintentionally belittle or frustrate them without realizing what weve done by asking them to do something that they cannot do. We then find ourselves on the receiving end of a verbal or physical blow with no idea what went wrong, and their response seems unwarranted or crazy.
Does dementia cause meanness?
Dementia patients who are mean and aggressive are most likely feeling fear, anger and embarrassment because they have been asked to use skills that they no longer have. When they fail, they may lash out at us. As companions, we can learn to support them in the areas where they have lost rational thinking skills and capitalize on the intuitive thinking skills that they will never lose. The DAWN Method teaches us to do this through how we interact with them.
How do I explain something to my husband with dementia without making him angry?
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Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Initial symptoms: Dementia with Lewy bodies is a type of Lewy body dementia. Dementia with Lewy bodies involves both body symptoms such as motor and muscle weakness and rigidity, as well as brain symptoms like making decisions, memory impairment, and attention span.
In dementia with Lewy bodies, the brain symptoms develop before the body symptoms, at the same time or less than a year after the body symptoms present.
Progression: Dementia with Lewy bodies can vary quite a bit, even from day to day. However, in general the disease starts slowly and worsens gradually.
Prognosis: Average life expectancy depends on many factors but is estimated to be approximately 5 to 8 years after diagnosis.
What Are The Early And Later Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia
Early signs of dementia may include:
- Simple forgetfulness
- Problems performing tasks or activities that were previously done without effort.
- Difficulty with learning new material is frequently one of the earliest signs of dementia.
Many patients with early Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia are unaware that they have any problem. As the disease progresses, behavioral changes can become evident.
- Patients have difficulty performing basic tasks, such as getting dressed or using the bathroom.
- Some patients begin to forget pieces of information about themselves, including their address or telephone number, or even their date of birth.
- They may have difficulty understanding what is occurring around them.
- Some patients have problems remembering to eat and may develop pronounced weight loss.
- In the late stages of dementia, patients often cannot recognize family members and their ability to communicate effectively is markedly impaired.
- They are no longer able to effectively care for themselves and require assistance for all activities of daily living.
- Over time, patients can forget how to walk or even how to sit up.
The stages of dementia are loosely grouped into mild, moderate, and severe categories by some doctors. However, there is another system of staging for dementia.
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Dementia Caused By Huntingtons Disease
Huntingtons disease is an inherited degenerative brain disease that affects the mind and body. It usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50, and is characterised by intellectual decline and irregular involuntary movement of the limbs or facial muscles. Other symptoms include personality change, memory disturbance, slurred speech, impaired judgement and psychiatric problems.There is no treatment available to stop the progression of this disease, but medication can control movement disorders and psychiatric symptoms. Dementia occurs in the majority of people with Huntingtons disease.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
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Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms And Treatment
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease suffer progressive disability over the course of the illness. Generally, patients with Alzheimer’s can live from 2 to 20 years from diagnosis on average patients’ life expectancy is 8-10 years. Alzheimer’s disease usually causes a decline in thinking ability, memory, movement, and language. Bizarre, withdrawn, or paranoid behavior may also occur as the disease progresses.
Early in the disease, patients may only have subtle symptoms such as changes in personality or lapses in memory. As the disease worsens, patients may experience bouts of disorientation, and may notice difficulty in performing daily tasks. In later stages of the disease, patients can no longer care for themselves, and they may become paranoid or hostile. In the later stages of the disease patients lose the ability to swallow and control bladder and bowel functions. They may no longer recognize family members and may not be able to speak. Fatal complications of Alzheimer’s include loss of ability to swallow that can lead to aspiration pneumonia, and incontinence leading to urinary tract infections or sepsis .