The Effects Of Dementia: Now You Know
As you can see, the effects of dementia can be extreme. Its also important to understand that each person suffering from this condition is going to be affected differently.
Exposure To Medications And Serious Adverse Events
As discussed, there may be a delay in timely diagnosis of LBD so patients with behavioral manifestations may inadvertently be treated with a typical neuroleptic or atypical neuroleptic with D2 receptor antagonism, which can worsen parkinsonism, and exacerbate other features such as sedation and orthostatic hypotension . The greatest concern with the use of typical neuroleptics is neuroleptic malignant syndrome , which may be fatal. NMS is caused by central blockade of dopamine and includes muscle rigidity, hyperthermia, and autonomic instability. It can also occur from certain anti-emetics such as metoclopramide . While NMS is perhaps the most serious side effect, a similar but more common adverse reaction, neuroleptic sensitivity reactions, can be seen in DLB, PD, and PDD. Neuroleptic sensitivity reactions, which can occur in 30 to 50% of DLB patients, include sedation, increased confusion, rigidity, and immobility that may occur after taking a neuroleptic medication. They are just as likely to occur in patients with mixed pathology including AD, supporting the need for accurate diagnosis .
Telling People About Your Dementia Diagnosis
Communication is an important part of any relationship. When you’re ready, tell others about your diagnosis.
It’s also good to tell them what you may have trouble with, such as following a conversation or remembering what was said.
You may find that some people treat you differently than they did before.
This may be because they don’t understand what dementia is or are afraid of the effect on your relationship.
Try to explain what your diagnosis means and the ways in which family and friends can help and support you.
The health or social care professional who helped with your care plan, your GP or a dementia support worker at your local Alzheimer’s Society can help with this if you’d like them to.
Let your friends and family know that you’re still you, even though you have dementia.
Tell them you’re still able to enjoy the activities you did before diagnosis, though some may take longer than they used to.
Read more about activities for dementia.
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Get The Information You Need
Youre going to have lots of questions. You may wonder whats going to happen and worry about not being able to do things for yourself. Finding out as much as you can will help to ease your fears. Theres a lot of information to take in when youre first diagnosed, so dont be afraid to go back and ask questions, even if its weeks or months later. Its important that you understand whats happening and why.
Sit down and write a list of all the questions you have and take it to your next appointment.
Are There Any Treatments
There are treatments that can help with the symptoms of some forms of dementia for a period of time, but there are currently no treatments that slow, halt or reverse the changes in the brain caused by the diseases. There are currently no treatments specifically for vascular dementia or frontotemporal dementia.
In the case of vascular dementia, a doctor may prescribe medication to treat underlying cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes. Physiotherapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy may be offered to help with speech or movement problems. Non-drug treatments such as cognitive therapies may be available and can help some people with dementia to manage their symptoms.
Alzheimer’s Society has more information on treatments for dementia.
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Keep Family Members Informed
This can be done in different ways. You can call and talk to people individually or you can write a family newsletter. Copy the letter and send it to different members of the family so you donât have to rewrite the same information to each one. Just remember, if you keep the lines of communication with your family and friends open, they will be able to understand more easily what you and your family member are going through. The better they understand, the more willing theyâll be to pitch in and help.
Caregiving isnât easy, and itâs important to make sure your aging family member does not take up all your energy. Make sure you find ways to pull together as a family and work together for everyoneâs benefit.
When Its Time For Specialized Dementia Care
While its natural to want to care for your loved one as long as possible, the sad fact of dementia is that, at some point, doing so may become unsafe for both of you. If the person with dementia wanders from home or becomes lost, begins having issues with mobility or falling, begins to exhibit extreme agitation or aggression, or experiences any other change that causes you to worry about their safety or your own, a specialized memory care community may be the solution.
Specialized memory care offers staff who are specially trained in dementia care and an environment specifically designed to help people with dementia thrive.
Thankfully, if youve been maintaining daily routines for your loved one, your efforts will help them make a more successful transition when moving from their house to a memory care community or when moving between levels of care in a Life Plan Community. Typically, staff at the community will develop a personalized plan of care that honors the individuals established routines and preferences, so they can continue to do the things they enjoy in a safe and secure environment that gives you both peace of mind.
To find a memory care community near you, use the community locator tool and search by type of community, location or both.
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The Basics Of Alzheimers Disease
Scientists are conducting studies to learn more about plaques, tangles, and other biological features of Alzheimers disease. Advances in brain imaging techniques allow researchers to see the development and spread of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins in the living brain, as well as changes in brain structure and function. Scientists are also exploring the very earliest steps in the disease process by studying changes in the brain and body fluids that can be detected years before Alzheimers symptoms appear. Findings from these studies will help in understanding the causes of Alzheimers and make diagnosis easier.
One of the great mysteries of Alzheimers disease is why it largely affects older adults. Research on normal brain aging is exploring this question. For example, scientists are learning how age-related changes in the brain may harm neurons and affect other types of brain cells to contribute to Alzheimers damage. These age-related changes include atrophy of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, blood vessel damage, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction .
Dementias Effect On Activities Of Daily Living
The small things of care are particularly important in ensuring that care is genuinely supportive of the individual, and enhances that persons autonomy and well-being. The humanity with which assistance for everyday living is offered, especially help with eating and intimate care, is as crucial in helping the person retain self-esteem and dignity as the manner and tone in which a person is addressed the care taken to ensure that they participate as much as they can or wish in any decision about their day-to-day life the trouble taken about appropriate and attractive food and environments and access to meaningful activity.
Nuffield Council on Bioethics
Activities of daily living are the tasks we do in our daily lives. Because ADL skills tend to worsen as dementia progresses, caregiver involvement naturally changes over time. ADLs are generally divided into two categories: basic ADLs and instrumental ADLs.
Basics ADLs are the skills needed to take care of personal needs such as eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting. Instrumental ADLs are the skills needed to function within society and within the community. The skills needed for ADLs decrease as dementia progresses.
When assisting someone with ADLs, encourage people to express their wishes. No, I dont want to! means just that, even when spoken by someone with dementia. Keep these techniques in mind:
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What Impact Does Dementia Have On Adls
Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia often make performing ADLs difficult. Tasks may be done halfway, poorly or not at all. For example, while some people with dementia appear as if there’s nothing wrong with them, others look disheveled and may wear dirty, mismatching clothes.
A person’s ability to perform ADLs is often evaluated when assessing their cognitive functioning. Since dementia is typically a progressive condition, the ability to perform ADLs declines over time.
Support For Families And Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers
Caring for a person with Alzheimers can have significant physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care, changes in family roles, and decisions about placement in a care facility can be difficult. NIA supports efforts to evaluate programs, strategies, approaches, and other research to improve the quality of care and life for those living with dementia and their caregivers.
Becoming well-informed about the disease is one important long-term strategy. Programs that teach families about the various stages of Alzheimers and about ways to deal with difficult behaviors and other caregiving challenges can help.
Good coping skills, a strong support network, and respite care are other things that may help caregivers handle the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimers. For example, staying physically active provides physical and emotional benefits.
Some caregivers have found that joining a support group is a critical lifeline. These support groups enable caregivers to find respite, express concerns, share experiences, get tips, and receive emotional comfort. Many organizations sponsor in-person and online support groups, including groups for people with early-stage Alzheimers and their families.
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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.
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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Provide Support For Family And Friends
Keep any family or friends informed about what is happening in a gentle, sensitive and supportive way. This will help reassure them that the person is getting the care they need. You could consider signposting them to appropriate services, such as an Admiral Nurse or local Alzheimers Society. It can also help to give them an opportunity to talk about what is happening.
Memory Loss And Dementia
- events the person may forget part or all of an event
- words or names the person progressively forgets words and names of people and things
- stories on TV, in movies or books the person progressively loses the ability to follow stories
- stored knowledge over time, the person loses known information such as historical or political information
- everyday skills the person progressively loses the capacity to perform tasks such as dressing and cooking.
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Surgical Intervention For Patients With Lewy Body Dementia
Surgical interventions are a common area of concern for patients and caregivers. Dementia in and of itself, and a diagnosis of LBD in particular, does not preclude necessary surgical interventions. This can become more of a gray area when optional procedures such as knee or hip replacements are considered. Clearly, arthritic joints can severely limit QOL but there is a balance when considering potential repercussions from anesthesia and the rehabilitation potential with a pre-existing cognitive and functional impairment. The relationship between general anesthesia and LBD specifically has not been robustly examined. Patients with LBD may respond poorly to certain anesthetics and experience postoperative delirium and/or functional decline . Patients with Parkinsons disease need careful oversight of their drug dosing regimen so it is impacted as little as possible pre- and postoperatively . A discussion with both the surgeon and anesthesiologist prior to surgery about the LBD diagnosis is prudent.
How To Communicate With Someone With Dementia
If you have noticed that the person with dementia is withdrawing into themselves and starting fewer conversations, it can help to:
- speak clearly and slowly, using short sentences
- give them time to respond
- give them simple choices avoid creating complicated choices or options
- try not to patronise them or ridicule what they say
- use other ways to communicate, such as rephrasing questions because they can’t answer in the way they used to
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Communication Disorders Defined: What Do These Terms Mean For Everyday Life
There is so much terminology in the world of medicine, and communication disorders are no exception. Weve compiled a list of some of the most common communication disorders and associated conditions that can lead to communication disorders.
All in one place, weve compiled definitions of communication disorders, including Aphasia, Apraxia, TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, Dementia, Language Delay, Fluency Disorder, and more.
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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How Common Is Dementia
According to the NHS, there are approximately 850,000 people with dementia in the United Kingdom. As longevity rates continue to increase, so is the number of reported cases. This is because dementia is more prevalent to older individuals. The NHS also estimates that there will be over 1 million people with dementia by 2025.
Dementia Vs Alzheimers Disease
Dementia and Alzheimers disease are not the same. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of symptoms related to memory, language, and decision-making.
AD is the most common type of dementia. It causes difficulty with short-term memory, depression, disorientation, behavioral changes, and more.
Dementia causes symptoms such as forgetfulness or memory impairment, loss of sense of direction, confusion, and difficulty with personal care. The exact constellation of symptoms will depend on the type of dementia you have.
AD can also cause these symptoms, but other symptoms of AD may include depression, impaired judgment, and difficulty speaking.
Likewise, treatments for dementia depend on the type you have. However, AD treatments often overlap with other non-pharmacological dementia treatments.
In the case of some types of dementia, treating the underlying cause may be helpful in reducing or stopping the memory and behavior problems. However, that is not the case with AD.
Its absolutely normal to forget things once in a while. Memory loss by itself does not mean you have dementia. There is a difference between occasional forgetfulness and forgetfulness that is cause for serious concern.
Potential red flags for dementia include:
- forgetting who someone is
- forgetting how to do common tasks, such as how to use the telephone or find your way home
- inability to comprehend or retain information that has been clearly provided
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Dementia Diagnosis Second Class People
Knowing they would not recover from dementia was difficult for the informants. Accepting the symptoms of dementia is needed,9 but in our study without assistance from professionals. The participants described experiences where they felt that they were considered second-class people after receiving the diagnosis. How persons with dementia are given the diagnosis may send a message about their social status.6 Low et al found that persons with dementia struggled with self-identity and feelings of social stigma. A sub-theme related to stigma is negative stereotypes internalized and related to self-adjustment.31 According to Kitwood,25 the focus should be on being a person with experiences rather than an analytical consideration of the person. However, self-esteem is a perception of ones worthiness and self-respect and a perception that others find the person worthy and respectable.32
Dementia threatens identity and sense of worth.9 Some of the participants expressed a loss of dignity because of others attitudes. According to Wogn-Henriksen, persons with dementia are able to express considerable insight and understanding of their illness and situation.5 Dementia must be understood as a condition that is possible to live with and not just a course of the disease.33 To achieve this, a change of attitude is needed in society and in population.