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.
Why It’s Important To Get A Diagnosis
Although there is no cure for dementia at the moment, an early diagnosis means its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.
A diagnosis helps people with dementia get the right treatment and support. It can also help them, and the people close to them, to prepare for the future.
Read more about how dementia is diagnosed.
How Situations And Perceptions May Affect Those With Dementia
You are who you are.
People certainly change with dementia. People become more forgetful, they dont make new memories well, they dont remember things they knew well, they dont process information as well, eventually their brains no longer know how to perform functions like walking, or even eating and drinking.
But in spite of all of these changes, peoples personalities stay largely the same it seems to me. Their personalities manifest themselves differently, but people dont usually have wholesale personality changes.
But who are you with dementia?
A generally easy-going person who is usually happy is still an easy-going person who is generally happy with dementia. A person who is busy, always needing to do something, continues to be this way with dementia. Sometimes people with memory loss can become anxious, as they dont always know what to do, but their mind is still telling them to do something. People like this often enjoy clearing tables or doing light housekeeping at our houses. Maybe they fold towels or do puzzles or arrange papers. People with a great deal of worry tend to worry still. People with unhappiness tend to still be unhappy.
Short-term changes, confusion and anxiety
Losing the ability to filter, and unseen sides of ourselves
Confusion and frustration can amplify reactions
Uncertainty, perception and aggression
Our public and private selves
Awareness and facets of personality
Change, growth, and perception
Reverend Arlen Solem
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What Is The Treatment For Symptoms And Complications Of Dementia
Some symptoms and complications of dementia can be relieved by medical treatment, even if no treatment exists for the underlying cause of the dementia.
- Behavioral disorders may improve with individualized therapy aimed at identifying and changing specific problem behaviors.
- Mood swings and emotional outbursts may be treated with mood-stabilizing drugs.
- Agitation and psychosis may be treated with antipsychotic medication or, in some cases, anticonvulsants.
- Seizures usually require anticonvulsant medication.
- Sleeplessness can be treated by changing certain habits and, in some cases, by taking medication.
- Bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics.
- Dehydration and malnutrition may be treated with rehydration and supplements or with behavioral therapies.
- Aspiration, pressure sores, and injuries can be prevented with appropriate care.
How Do I Care For Someone With Dementia
Coordinate their care Your loved one will need more care as time goes on. It can be helpful to designate one person who coordinates care and helps them put together a care plan.
Plan ahead It is wise to plan early for the future. Encourage them to arrange for a trusted person to manage their affairs through a power of attorney, and to draw up an advanced care directive explaining what treatments they would prefer if they become unable to give consent later on.
Care for yourself Looking after a loved one with dementia can be tough and draining. Make sure you spend time socialising and meeting other people. Find activities and interests you can draw encouragement from. Give yourself space to rest, grieve and appreciate your loved one.
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Following A Partner Or Carer Around
Dementia makes people feel insecure and anxious. They may “shadow” their partner or carer as they need constant reassurance they’re not alone and they’re safe.
They may also ask for people who died many years ago, or ask to go home without realising they’re in their own home.
- have the person with you if you’re doing chores such as ironing or cooking
- reassure them that they’re safe and secure if they’re asking to go home
- avoid telling them someone died years ago and talk to them about that period in their life instead
Developing A Treatment Plan
Psychologists may work with individuals with dementia and their families independently through a private practice or as part of a health care team. Psychologists will work with the individual and family to develop strategies to improve quality of life and manage emotions related to the dementia diagnosis.
In working with a psychologist, an individual with dementia and those who provide care for them may discuss what is already being done well to manage the dementia and which behaviors may be improved. The psychologist may ask the individual or caregiver to do homework like practicing memory tools. Memory tools can help individuals become more organized to better manage their symptoms of memory loss. These tools might include:
- Using an alarm as a reminder to take medicine
- Using a calendar, to-do list, and journal combo as a memory substitute
- Establishing routines to identify, plan, and carry out pleasant activities that are within the capacity of the care recipient
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Irritability And Mood Swings
In the mid and especially late stages, a person who has dementia may begin to lose control of his impulses.
This is the most alarming effect of dementia, which may lead to hurting another person emotionally.
A person who has dementia may even say tactless things, like Gosh, you look old!, which they would never say before.
In the later stage, more aggressive acts often seem to come out of nowhere, including cursing, arguing, shouting, and even threatening.
As dementia gets worse, the person loses tolerance for a lot of things and situations which makes his or her mood change constantly.
Dementia Effects On Activities Of Daily Living
Claudia Chaves, MD, is board-certified in cerebrovascular disease and neurology with a subspecialty certification in vascular neurology.
Activities of Daily Living are tasks that need to be accomplished on a regular basis to function. Examples of ADLs include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, mouth care and toileting.
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If You’re Looking After Someone With Dementia
Your needs as a carer are as important as the person you’re caring for.
To help care for yourself:
- join a local carers’ support group or a specialist dementia organisation â for more details, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm at weekends
- call Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline free on 0800 888 6678 to talk to a registered specialist dementia nurse lines are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends
Caregiving And Vascular Dementia
There are many ways to help your family member or friend maximize his or her independence and cope with the cognitive symptoms of vascular dementia. Unlike Alzheimerâs disease, individuals with vascular dementia might better remember things in their daily life when repetition and context are provided. Likewise, simple cues can jog recall when remembering is difficult for the person. Structured and predictable routines can be helpful. Assistive devices and technology, such as pill boxes or electronic reminders on a phone, might be useful as well.
Breaking down complexânow overwhelmingâtasks into smaller and more manageable steps will make them easier to complete. Itâs also useful to simplify explanations and directions. As the disease progresses, even tasks learned years ago, like shaving or brushing teeth, may require step-by-step directions.
Problems with attention can make focusing and concentrating more difficult for your family member. Ensuring an environment that is not overly busy or noisy will make it easier to pay attention. Multi-tasking can be particularly difficult. Individuals with vascular dementia might have an easier time completing tasks when they focus on a single activity at a time, instead of dividing their attention between multiple tasks.
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Aggressive Behaviour In Dementia
In the later stages of dementia, some people with dementia will develop what’s known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia .
The symptoms of BPSD can include:
- increased agitation
These types of behaviours are very distressing for the carer and for the person with dementia.
It’s very important to ask your doctor to rule out or treat any underlying causes, such as:
- uncontrolled pain
- infection, such as a urinary tract infection
- side effects of medicines
If the person you’re caring for behaves in an aggressive way, try to stay calm and avoid confrontation. You may have to leave the room for a while.
If none of the coping strategies works, an antipsychotic medicine can be prescribed as a short-term treatment. This should be prescribed by a consultant psychiatrist.
When Im Sixty Four
Nearly 40 years ago, The Beatles launched a famous song which included the words Will you still need me, will you still feed me when Im 64. At that time Paul McCartney, looking at his 64 year old father, wondered how life would be at 64considered old at that time apparentlyprobably also being afraid for age related diseases, such as dementia. In the coming decades, the financial and emotional burden placed by dementia on the working age population will rise notably. As the age distribution of the western population shifts, the rapid increase of the prevalence of dementia with increasing age means that both the number of affected individuals and the affected proportion of the total population are increasing. This will be especially prominent in Europe, where the median age of the population is higher than in all other parts of the world. Based on several meta-analyses of epidemiological studies and the population projections of the United Nations, the number of prevalent cases in Europe in the year 2000 was about seven million. Within the next 50 years, this number is estimated to more than double to well over 16 million patients with dementia. Not only will the number of patients with dementia increase in the same time span, the working age population will considerably decrease in number . While in the year 2000, there was a ratio of 69 working age persons to one demented person, this ratio will decrease to 21:1 in 2050.
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What Is The Life Expectancy For A Person With Dementia
The outlook for most types of dementia is poor unless the cause is an early recognized reversible condition. Irreversible or untreated dementia usually continues to worsen over time. The condition usually progresses over years until the person’s death. Life expectancy after diagnosis averages about 8-10 years with a range from about 3-20 years.
Making decisions about end-of-life care is important.
- The earlier in the disease these issues are discussed, the more likely the person with dementia will be able to express his or her wishes about medical care at the end of life.
- The issues may be presented by your health care professional. If not, ask about them.
- These issues include use of aggressive interventions and hospital care, artificial feeding, and medical treatment for medical illnesses.
- These issues should be discussed by family members and decisions made about how to deal with them when the time comes.
- The decisions should be documented in the person’s medical records.
While At Home What Can I Do To Help My Loved One With Symptoms Of Dementia
Many people with dementia in the early and intermediate stages are able to live independently.
- With regular checks by a local relative or friend, they are able to live without constant supervision.
- Those who have difficulty with activities of daily living require at least part-time help from a family caregiver or home health aide.
- Visiting nurses can make sure that these individuals take their medications as directed.
- Housekeeping help is available for those who cannot keep up with household chores.
Other affected individuals require closer supervision or more constant assistance.
- Round-the-clock help in the home is available, but it is too expensive for many.
- Individuals who require this level of assistance may need to move from their home to the home of a family caregiver or to an assisted-living facility.
- Many families prefer these options because they give the individual the greatest possible independence and quality of life.
For individuals who are able to remain at home or to retain some degree of independent living, maintaining a familiar and safe environment is important.
Individuals with dementia should remain physically, mentally, and socially active.
A balanced diet that includes low-fat protein foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents malnutrition and constipation. An individual with dementia should not smoke, both for health and for safety reasons. As a caregiver, make sure to take care of yourself.
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Fca Fact And Tip Sheets
A listing of all FCA fact and tip sheets is available online at www.caregiver.org/fact-sheets.
The National Stroke Association provides education, information and referral, and research on stroke for families, health care professionals, and others interested in or affected by stroke.
American Stroke AssociationThe American Stroke Association offers information and sponsors programs and support groups throughout the nation for stroke survivors and family members.
American Heart AssociationThe American Heart Association provides public health education to community members, healthcare professionals, and to lawmakers and policymakers.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokewww.ninds.nih.govThe National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke supports and performs basic, translational, and clinical neuroscience research through grants-in-aid, contracts, scientific meetings, and through research in its own laboratories, and clinics.
Family Caregiver AllianceÂ®
101 Montgomery Street | Suite 2150 | San Francisco, CA 94104
800.445.8106 toll-free | 415.434.3388 local
When Should I Ask For Support
Supporting people with dementia at the end of their life requires a team approach. Often, there will be many people involved in the persons care at the end of their life. Good communication and information sharing helps to ensure the person receives the care they need.
If youre unsure about anything or have any concerns seek advice from a colleague, manager or another health care professional.
There may be certain professionals who can advise on specific issues. These may include a GP, district nurses, social workers, other care staff and specialists.
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Communicating Through Body Language And Physical Contact
Communication is not just talking. Gestures, movement and facial expressions can all convey meaning or help you get a message across. Body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia.
When someone has difficulty speaking or understanding, try to:
- be patient and remain calm, which can help the person communicate more easily
- keep your tone of voice positive and friendly, where possible
- talk to them at a respectful distance to avoid intimidating them being at the same level or lower than they are can also help
- pat or hold the person’s hand while talking to them to help reassure them and make you feel closer watch their body language and listen to what they say to see whether they’re comfortable with you doing this
It’s important that you encourage the person to communicate what they want, however they can. Remember, we all find it frustrating when we cannot communicate effectively, or are misunderstood.
What Is Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is a medical term that describes a decline in cognitive abilities including memory, planning, reasoning, and judgment. When blood flow is reduced to any region of the brain, it becomes damaged quickly and recovers slowly, if at all. Damaged brain tissue causes the dementia symptoms. When symptoms are severe, they impair a personâs daily functioning and may affect their ability to live independently. In that case, family caregivers may need to help manage their loved oneâs care.
Symptoms of vascular dementia can begin gradually or abruptly. For example, memory and thinking problems often appear immediately after a patient has a stroke. However, having a stroke does not necessarily mean that a person will have dementia: The severity of the stroke and location in the brain determines if thinking skills are significantly affected. On the other hand, some individuals will exhibit gradual and subtle changes due to chronic cerebrovascular disease . Vascular dementia frequently occurs with other types of dementia, such as Alzheimerâs disease or Dementia with Lewy Bodies. The additional presence of vascular disease in the brain often makes symptoms of other brain diseases worse.
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How Does Dementia Affect The Brain And Everyday Life
The impacts of Dementia and Alzheimers on Activities of Daily Living make it difficult for those with the disease to complete simple activities that we often take for granted, such as bathing, doing laundry or cleaning. It is important to remember that not every person suffering from dementia will look dishevelled and unkempt, and different stages of the disease will alter the way in which the person in question will complete the task.
Caring For Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
Please be aware – this information is for healthcare professionals. We also have information for the public.
You can use our My Learning form to reflect on how this page has helped with your continuing professional development.
People with dementia may experience problems with thinking, memory, behaviour and mobility. It can be difficult to recognise when someone with dementia is nearing the end of their life. You can support the person by communicating with them and helping them with any symptoms they have. If possible, its a good idea to plan the persons care in advance to help understand what they want from their care.
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