This Makes You 30 Percent Less Likely To Develop Dementia
According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, older people who have cataracts removed are nearly 30 percent less likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s, than people with cataracts who don’t get the surgery.
A cataract is a cloudy area that develops when proteins build up in the lens of the eye, impeding vision. During cataract surgery, the diseased lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one.
In formulating their conclusions, researchers looked at more than 3,000 people age 65 and older who were dementia-free when the study started. They were followed for about a decade after they chose to get the surgery or not.
The scientists pointed out that vision problems have previously been identified as a risk factor for dementia.
Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.
Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:
- personality changes reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
- lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
- language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
- becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking
Read more about frontotemporal dementia.
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.
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Preparing For The Appointment
Congratulations, you made the appointment! Now, you need to devise a plan for appointment day.
Youre probably a combination of relieved and anxious as you set about developing a plan. Youre likely imagining all the problems this doctor appointment will solve. You may be thinking of it as a game-changer.
As youre subconsciously pinning all your hopes and dreams on this one appointment, let me be the party-pooper who brings you back down to earth. Youre better servedas is your parent or partnerby keeping your expectations low enough you cant trip over them.
Sounds pessimistic, sure. That, and it helps avoid an emotional rollercoaster of unrealistic expectations and bad outcomes later. So, devise a great plan. Work your plan to the best of your ability. Just dont plan your results.
Can Dementia Be Inappropriately Diagnosed In A Single Visit
Sadly, yes. Although its common for doctors to never diagnose dementia at all in people who have it, I have also come across several instances of busy doctors rattling off a dementia diagnosis, without adequately documenting how they reached this conclusion.
Now, often these doctors are right. Dementia becomes common as people age, so if a family complains of memory problems and paranoia in an 89 year old, chances are quite high that the older person has dementia.
But sometimes its not. Sometimes its slowly resolving delirium along with a brain-clouding medication. Sometimes its depression.
It is a major thing to diagnose someone with dementia. So although its not possible for an average doctor to evaluate with as much detail as the memory clinic does, its important to document consideration of the five essential features as listed above.
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Causes Of Challenging Behaviors In Bathing
When a person is combative or resistive with a bath or a shower, there can be many causes for her behavior. Here are a few possible ones:
- Embarrassment: If a person is concerned about privacy, bathing with someone else present could make him feel very uncomfortable and embarrassed.
- Fear of Water: Some people are afraid of water, whether it’s due to some traumatic incident or just increased anxiety. Others react negatively especially to a shower since they may have always grown up with the routine of a bath.
- Lack of Understanding: A person with middle or later stage dementia might not understand why you’re present, why you’re trying to take her clothes off or why she needs to be in the water and be washed. Understandably, this often causes significant resistance.
Occasionally, the person with dementia may become sexually inappropriate during bathing because he does not understand why you are assisting him. If he misinterprets your help, don’t yell at him. Simply explain: “Mr. Smith, I’m a nurses’ aide and I’m here to help you bathe today. Your wife will be here soon to visit you.”
Case Study: No More Mammograms
I had the privilege of serving as guardian to a wonderful lady I loved to pieces. At the point she had advanced disease progression, it no longer made sense for her to have mammograms, even though she had a history of breast cancer.
Her perception of having labs drawn was she was being punished. She jerked away, yelling, Ow! as she slapped at the lab tech. I had no reason to believe a mammogram would go any better.
Additionally, I had to think about what would happen if a mammogram came back with a spot. Would I say yes to a biopsy? What if that came back bad?
Would I say yes to surgery, knowing anesthesia would exacerbate her dementia symptoms? What about post-op recovery? Would I say yes to her going to rehab, knowing an unfamiliar environment would further aggravate her symptoms?
What if she needed chemo and/or radiation? Would I say yes to that, knowing shed not understand why an IV was hooked up and try to pull it out?
Thats what I mean by beginning with the end in mind. Before you say yes to testing, think about what youd do if the results dont come back the way you want.
On the flip side, good news is great. But how would going through the diagnostics add to your parent or partners quality of life? What would it change?
How Vascular Dementia Develops
Symptoms of vascular dementia can appear suddenly if they are caused by a single stroke, or if they are caused by silent strokes they may appear gradually over time. Vascular dementia sometimes develops in steps, so that symptoms will stay the same for a while and then suddenly get worse. These steps are usually due to new strokes.
You can read more about treatments to slow down the progression of dementia.
How Are Rpds Treated
Treatment depends on the type of RPD that was diagnosed. For example, if the RPD is the result of cancer or a hormone imbalance, treatments that target these specific conditions may help treat the RPD. Unfortunately, for many causes of RPD, there is no cure available. For these cases, however, we can sometimes treat the symptoms, make patients more comfortable and improve their quality of life.
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Key Points About Vascular Dementia
- Vascular dementia is a disorder characterized by damaged brain tissue due to a lack of blood flow. Causes can include blood clots, ruptured blood vessels, or narrowing or hardening of blood vessels that supply the brain.
- Symptoms can include problems with memory and concentration, confusion, changes in personality and behavior, loss of speech and language skills, and sometimes physical symptoms such as weakness or tremors.
- Vascular dementia tends to progress over time. Treatments can’t cure the disease, but lifestyle changes and medicines to treat underlying causes might help slow its progress.
- Surgical procedures to improve blood flow to the brain can also be helpful. Other medicines might slow the progression of dementia or help with some of the symptoms it can cause.
- A person with vascular dementia may eventually need full-time nursing care or to stay in a long-term care facility.
Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.
You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
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The Earlier You Do It The Better
Here is another lesson that you can take from our ignorance at the beginning. We waited FAR too long to get Mom moved out of her home!
Moving is disorienting for anyone you have to figure out where the thermostat is, how to work the tub drain, and even which part of the floor is more slippery when it gets wet.
If you can get your person with dementia to move early, they can acclimate to their new surroundings while they still have the cognitive ability to adapt more easily.
Mom will still occasionally get lost in our house, not knowing which direction her room is from the kitchen and needing to be pointed in the right direction.
Dementia, Alzheimers, whatever your loved one has, just know it is progressive. There is no going back to better times, it is only going to get worse. I don’t say that to be mean, just to say that the more you can do while they are more high functioning, the better.
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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What Is Dementia And What Causes It
Dementia is a syndrome that causes a person to develop difficulty and problems with their memory or their ability to think. Unlike the normal changes that happen in a persons memory and thinking over time, dementia affects someones ability to function in their daily life activities and their normal routine .There are different causes of dementia. These causes are typically underlying neurological conditions . One common cause of dementia is Alzheimers disease. Other causes include diseases that impact brain blood vessels. For example, strokes may cause what is commonly termed Vascular Dementia. Some causes include Lewy Body Disease and Parkinsons disease.
Is Dementia A Mental Illness
Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.
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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.
Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
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What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly
Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.
Just Do The Next Indicated Thing
Although it sounds reasonable to us to say, Its time to get ready, its likely too vague for a cognitively impaired person. Instead, focus only on the next indicated thing that needs to happen.
I need you to put on your shoes now, is concrete and specific. Still, depending on where your parent or partner is in the disease process, you may need to back up a step and start with, I need you to sit down now, before moving on to putting on shoes.
Most care partners are anxious at the thought of making it out the door. They worry about their parent or partners reaction to finding out a doctor appointment is on deck. I suggest a simple, Lets go for a ride. What comes after that? Ill give you several ideas in the Do what works section below.
Energy is contagious, so if youre feeling anxious, it will catch. Instead, stay focused only on whatever the next indicated thing isnot the thing after the next thing. Stay present in this moment to keep your own anxiety at bay.
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Loss Of Daily Life Skills
A home that may not be as well kept as usual may be a sign that the person living there has dementia. They may lose the ability to do many of the things they normally do themselves, such as preparing meals, household chores and eating and drinking properly.
They may also struggle to maintain their personal hygiene and getting dressed. Deciding what to wear, how to put things on and in the right order may become increasingly difficult. Getting around the house without walking into furniture and other items may also be a problem.
When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
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Finding Supports Previous Research
Previous studies have found there’s a strong association between vision problems and dementia. One study published last year in the journal Scientific Reports analyzed health data from more than 6 million people and found that people with severe visual impairments have a higher risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia after adjusting for other negative health factors, and that risk of dementia “increased significantly” as vision worsened.
And a study published last year found that older adults who start losing both vision and hearing are twice as likely to develop dementia as people with only one or neither impairment.
Future Directions In Diagnosis Research
Considerable research effort is being put into the development of better tools for accurate and early diagnosis. Research continues to provide new insights that in the future may promote early detection and improved diagnosis of dementia, including:
- Better dementia assessment tests that are suitable for people from diverse educational, social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
- New computerised cognitive assessment tests which can improve the delivery of the test and simplify responses.
- Improved screening tools to allow dementia to be more effectively identified and diagnosed by GPs.
- The development of blood and spinal fluid tests to measure Alzheimers related protein levels and determine the risk of Alzheimers disease.
- The use of sophisticated brain imaging techniques and newly developed dyes to directly view abnormal Alzheimers protein deposits in the brain, yielding specific tests for Alzheimers disease.
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