Planning For The Future: Tips For Caregivers
Making health care decisions for someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming. Thats why it is important to plan health care directives in advance. To help plan for the future, you can:
- Start discussions early with your loved one so they can be involved in the decision-making process.
- Get permission in advance to talk to the doctor or lawyer of the person youre caring for, as needed. There may be questions about care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without consent, you may not be able to get needed information.
- Consider legal and financial matters, options for in-home care, long-term care, and funeral and burial arrangements.
Learning about your loved ones disease will help you know what to expect as the dementia progresses and what you can do.
What Is Mixed Dementia
It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .
Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.
Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:
What Are The Symptoms
Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages.
A person with dementia will often have cognitive symptoms . They will often have problems with some of the following:
- Day-to-day memory difficulty recalling events that happened recently.
- Repetition repeating the same question or conversation frequently in a short space of time.
- Concentrating, planning or organising difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks .
- Language difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something.
- Visuospatial skills – problems judging distances and seeing objects in three dimensions.
- Orientation – losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.
Some people have other symptoms including movement problems, hallucinations or behaviour changes.
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Be Open To A Range Of Possibilities
We often go into situations with set ideas of what we want to speak about or what we expect to hear and we try to switch the conversation quickly to the topic we have in mind. At the beginning of a communication, take your lead from the person with dementia. Dont try to switch topics too soon. In allowing the conversation to develop, give the person time to say what is on their mind. When the person says x they mean y .
Be aware that as word finding becomes more difficult for the person with dementia the content of speech becomes more limited. So, for example, a female name such as Julie may come to represent every female helper rather than referring to Julie in person. A reference to needing my mum may mean that the person is feeling scared and unattached rather than a literal question needing a literal answer about the whereabouts of the persons mother.
Be Aware Of Their Eating And Drinking
The person may have lost their appetite or have difficulties swallowing safely. In the last days, the person may stop eating or drinking. This can be very distressing to watch, but it is normal for people approaching the end of life.
You should offer the person food and drink for as long as it is safe and they show an interest. Its important to keep the persons mouth comfortable provide sips of fluids and keep lips moist and clean.
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Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person With Dementia
We arenât born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementiaâbut we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.
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.
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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.
Talk About One Thing At A Time
Someone with dementia may not be able to engage in the mental juggling needed to maintain a conversation with multiple threads. Its best to keep it concise and simple.
Ask open-ended, observational questions, instead of quizzing or asking too much at once. If youre looking through an old photo album, for example, you could say, This is a beautiful dress. What do you think? instead of, Do you remember your wedding day? Asking specifically about the dress keeps the conversation simple and direct.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia
Early symptoms of dementia include :
- Forgetting recent events or information
- Repeating comments or questions over a very short period of time
- Misplacing commonly used items or placing them in usual spots
- Not knowing the date or time
- Having difficulty coming up with the right words
- Experiencing a change in mood, behavior or interests
Signs that dementia is getting worse include:
- Ability to remember and make decisions further declines
- Talking and finding the right words becomes more difficult
- Daily complex tasks, such as brushing teeth, making a cup of coffee, working a tv remote, cooking, and paying bills become more challenging
- Rational thinking and behavior and ability to problem solve lessen
- Sleeping pattern change
- Anxiety, frustration, confusion, agitation, suspiciousness, sadness and/or depression increase
- More help with activities of daily living grooming, toileting, bathing, eating is needed
- Hallucinations may develop
The symptoms mentioned above are general symptoms of dementia. Each person diagnosed with dementia has different symptoms, depending on what area of the brain is damaged. Additional symptoms and/or unique symptoms occur with specific types of dementia.
When Do People With Dementia Find It Difficult To Communicate
Language problems can also vary from day to day, or be more or less of a problem at different times of the day. They can be made worse if the person is tired, in pain or unwell. The surroundings can also help with communication, or make it more difficult.
In some types of dementia such as some forms of frontotemporal dementia a person may start to have problems with language much earlier than other types of dementia. It is likely to be one of the first symptoms that is noticed.
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How Is Dementia Treated
Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining social contacts, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases and may reduce number of people with dementia.
Insults And Inappropriate Comments
We all think things from time to time that we wouldnt dare say out loud, but dementia can cause a persons impulse control to decrease, essentially stripping them of their social filter. Dementia patients have been known to sling insults, spew obscenities and even make sexual remarks to family, friends and strangers alike. The result can be utterly mortifying for everyone within earshot, except, of course, the person with dementia.
Snow attributes these troubling behaviors to the fact that the disease usually causes significant damage to the left side of the brain first. This is the side that governs vocabulary and higher speech functions, while the right side of the brain helps people to engage in social chit chat and keep the rhythm of speech, she explains. The right is also where most curse words are stored, and it is generally not as affected as the left side.
So, when your father has a not-so-nice thought about a heavyset woman who walks by while youre dining at a restaurant, he cant help but blurt out what hes thinking: Boy is she a fatty! Hey, sweetheart, lay off the cupcakes! He may also use a few expletives if he has difficulty accessing other words in his vocabulary to articulate this thought that he should know to keep to himself.
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Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
- Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
- Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
- Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
- Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
- Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
- Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?
Other Complications Of Dementia
Dementia and pneumonia often go hand in hand. As the ability to properly swallow declines, liquids can tragically end up down the wrong pipe, often leading to infection in the lungs.
Other conditions that may lead to death include heart failure, blood clots, and dehydration. Additionally, individuals with pre-existing health conditions can be at higher risk of death with dementia.
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Tips For Caregivers And Families Of People With Dementia
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A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isnt just one persons job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.
Finding Dementia Communication Techniques That Work
As mentioned earlier, each dementia patients symptoms are unique. It often takes a great deal of patience and trial and error to find solutions to challenges in dementia care, and communication issues are no different. Even if you do find solutions, they may not remain effective throughout a loved ones disease progression. Verbal communication usually isnt possible in the later stages, but it is important to continue communicating with dementia patients no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it becomes.
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Understanding The Complications Of Dementia: Why Is Dementia Fatal
Did you know that dementia isone of the top causes of death in the U.S.? So, how do people die from dementia, and how does this relate to Alzheimers disease?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimers disease, you probably have many questions. Youre not alone. Millions of Americans and more around the globe suffer fromAlzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia.
Dementia patients experience a progressive decline in mental abilities, including loss of memory, judgment, and language skills. In its later stages, Alzheimers may affect essential functions such as swallowing or breathing.
In this article, well share the answers to common questions surrounding dementia such as:
- Can dementia lead to death?
- Does dementia cause death?
- What usually causes death in Alzheimers patients?
- How many people die from dementia?
- How do people die from dementia?
Learning more about dementia and how it can be fatal is a necessary step in helping those suffering. With the right knowledge andspecialized care, those with dementia and Alzheimers can enjoy a better quality of life.
But before we answer the question, Can a person die from dementia? lets first explore what dementia is.
Communication And Communication Difficulties
Language performance is both influenced by normal aging and by development of dementia . Dementia is defined as memory impairment with the impairment of at least one other cognitive function such as language or executive function . Cognitive and daily functioning decline are the primary symptoms of dementia . Difficulties related to communication are among the earliest symptoms of dementia . Loss of linguistic abilities is common symptom among people with dementia, who may precede other aspects of the cognitive decline . Language difficulties are a major problem for most patients with dementia, especially as the disease progresses and goes from moderate to severe stage . Early signs that communication of a person with dementia is affected are the difficulties of word finding, especially when naming people or objects. A person can replace the word with the wrong one or not find a substitute at all . As the disease progresses, it leads to forgetting names of family members, friends, confusion about family relationships, and often affected persons no longer recognize members of their family .
Training/instruction of communication skills related to the care of people with dementia significantly influences the communication of professional and family caregivers, their skills, abilities and knowledge, improves the quality of life and well-being of people with dementia and increases positive interaction in different care settings .
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Tips For Everyday Care For People With Dementia
Early on in Alzheimers and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning in a way that affects daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple, everyday tasks. This may include bathing, grooming, and dressing. It may be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities. Here are a few tips to consider early on and as the disease progresses:
- Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
- Help the person write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
- Plan activities that the person enjoys and try to do them at the same time each day.
- Consider a system or reminders for helping those who must take medications regularly.
- When dressing or bathing, allow the person to do as much as possible.
- Buy loose-fitting, comfortable, easy-to-use clothing, such as clothes with elastic waistbands, fabric fasteners, or large zipper pulls instead of shoelaces, buttons, or buckles.
- Use a sturdy shower chair to support a person who is unsteady and to prevent falls. You can buy shower chairs at drug stores and medical supply stores.
- Be gentle and respectful. Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step while you help them bathe or get dressed.
- Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and give the person enough time to eat.