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 persons 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 persons 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.
Help From The Ontario Government
Caring for someone with dementia can be difficult, but help is available. Each province in Canada offers different resources and programs for dementia patients and caregivers. Were going to look at the options available in Ontario, however if you live in a different province, similar options will likely be provided.
Risk Factors And Prevention
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.
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How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed
There is currently no single test to identify Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis is made only after careful clinical consultation.
The clinical diagnosis might include:
- A detailed medical history
- Lumbar puncture for cerebral spinal fluid tests
- Medical imaging
These tests will help to eliminate other conditions with similar symptoms such as nutritional deficiencies or depression. After eliminating other causes, a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be made with about 80% to 90% accuracy if the symptoms and signs are appropriate. The diagnosis can only be confirmed after death by examination of the brain tissue.
It is important to have an early and accurate diagnosis to determine whether a treatable condition other than Alzheimer’s disease, is causing the symptoms. If Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, medical treatment and other assistance can be discussed.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment . With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers, but not all of them do so. Some may even revert to normal cognition.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. For many, decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimers. More research is needed before these techniques can be used broadly and routinely to diagnose Alzheimers in a health care providers office.
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How Many Types Of Dementia Are There
There are many different names for dementia, depending on how the disease affects the brain.
So, what different types of dementia are there?
The 10 types of dementia that most commonly appear in elderly adults are:
However, some of these types of dementia in the elderly are more likely to appear in your loved one than others.
Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that involve a loss of cognitive functioning.
Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. It involves plaques and tangles forming in the brain. Symptoms start gradually and are most likely to include a decline in cognitive function and language ability.
To receive a diagnosis of Alzheimers, a person will be experiencing memory loss, cognitive decline, or behavioral changes that are affecting their ability to function in their daily life.
Friends and family may notice the symptoms of dementia before the person themselves.
There is no single test for Alzheimers disease. If a doctor suspects the presence of the condition, they will ask the person and sometimes their family or caregivers about their symptoms, experiences, and medical history.
The doctor may also carry out the following tests:
- cognitive and memory tests, to assess the persons ability to think and remember
- neurological function tests, to test their balance, senses, and reflexes
- blood or urine tests
- a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain
- genetic testing
A number of assessment tools are available to assess cognitive function.
In some cases, genetic testing may be appropriate, as the symptoms of dementia can be related to an inherited condition such as Huntingtons disease.
Some forms of the APOE e4 gene are associated with a higher chance of developing Alzheimers disease.
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Causes And Risk Factors
The cause depends on the type, but the exact causes of many forms of dementia are currently unclear.
Dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, but age is one of the main risk factors. In fact, up to 50% of people aged 85 years and older may have a type of dementia.
Also, in the United States, around 11.3% of people aged over 65 years currently have Alzheimers disease, according to the Alzheimers Association. This number rises to 34.6% in those aged 85 years and older. Symptoms tend to worsen with age.
It is possible to develop dementia at a younger age, but the condition is more common among older adults.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Doctors use several methods and tools to help determine whether a person who is having memory problems has Alzheimers disease.
To diagnose Alzheimers, doctors may:
- Ask the person and a family member or friend questions about overall health, use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and changes in behavior and personality.
- Conduct tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language.
- Carry out standard medical tests, such as blood and urine tests, to identify other possible causes of the problem.
- Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , or positron emission tomography , to support an Alzheimers diagnosis or to rule out other possible causes for symptoms.
These tests may be repeated to give doctors information about how the persons memory and other cognitive functions are changing over time.
People with memory and thinking concerns should talk to their doctor to find out whether their symptoms are due to Alzheimers or another cause, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinsons disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, or another type of dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.
In addition, an early diagnosis provides people with more opportunities to participate in clinical trials or other research studies testing possible new treatments for Alzheimers.
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Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
People with Alzheimers disease differ in the patterns of problems they experience and in the speed with which their abilities deteriorate. Their abilities may change from day to day, or even within the same day. What is certain is that the persons abilities will deteriorate sometimes rapidly over a few months, sometimes more slowly, over a number of years.Some of the features of Alzheimers disease are classified into three stages. It is important to remember that not all of these features will be present in every person, nor will every person go through every stage. But these stages are still a useful description of the progression of Alzheimers disease.At all stages of Alzheimers disease, treatments and support services are available. Use these to make sure of the best possible quality of life for everyone affected by Alzheimers disease.
How Many Canadians Live With Dementia Including Alzheimer’s Disease And How Many Are Newly Diagnosed Each Year
According to the most recent data available , more than 402,000 seniors are living with dementia in Canada . This represents a prevalence of 7.1%. About two-thirds of Canadian seniors living with dementia are women. Annually, there are approximately 76,000 new cases of dementia diagnosed in Canada. This represents an incidence of 14.3 new cases per 1,000 in the senior population . The incidence is higher among women than men. The prevalence and the incidence increase with age, as does the differential in prevalence and incidence estimates between men and women .
Notes: Data do not include Saskatchewan’s data. The 95% confidence interval shows an estimated range of values which is likely to include the true value 19 times out of 20.
Data source: Public Health Agency of Canada, using Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System data files contributed by provinces and territories, April 2017.
Over a ten-year period , the age-standardized prevalence of dementia increased by 21.2%. During the same period, fluctuations in incidence have been observed. Drug data, one of the criteria used for case identification , became available in Alberta and Prince Edward Island in 20092010, which contributed to the temporary peak in incidence that year. Since then, incidence data suggest a decline .
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Medications To Maintain Mental Function In Alzheimer’s Disease
Several medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat symptoms of Alzheimers. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimers. Donepezil, memantine, the rivastigmine patch, and a combination medication of memantine and donepezil are used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimers symptoms. All of these drugs work by regulating neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons. They may help reduce symptoms and help with certain behavioral problems. However, these drugs dont change the underlying disease process. They are effective for some but not all people and may help only for a limited time.
What Is Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver Burnout is a term used to describe the state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion experienced by one person taking care of another person who needs assistance with daily living activities. Women are more often the primary caregivers for their spouses, family members or relatives who need care. Stress and burnout diminishes the caregivers ability to deliver consistent quality care and affects the person youre caring for. Your loved one may suffer because of this. It is important to take care of yourself so you can give the best care to your loved one. Recognizing the signs of burnout and using some of these helpful tips is the first step to reverse the inevitable mental and physical exhaustion.
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Stimulating Exercises For People With Dementia
Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms get worse over time. The progression of dementia is different for every individual for some people, it progresses rapidly, whereas for others, it may progress over the span of several years. However, research shows that cognitive stimulation helps reduce decline in cognitive function for individuals with mild to moderate dementia.
Here are 10 stimulating exercises for people with dementia:
1. Create a Memory Box
Since most forms of dementia affect an individuals memory, looking through a memory box with pictures of their loved ones and happy moments can be a great reminiscent activity. The memory box can consist of anything, not just pictures. It promotes engagement opportunities for patients living with dementia, as well as for their loved ones and caregivers.
2.Cook Simple Recipes
The process of cooking and baking requires motor skills, thinking, and short-term memory. Also, the smell or taste of their favourite childhood recipe allows the individual to have a reminiscent experience while cooking. Cooking healthy recipes helps improve general health, and is also beneficial for brain health.
3.Listen and Dance to Music
Similar to the memory box, listening to music that the individual enjoys can provide comfort and feelings of nostalgia. A bonus benefit of this activity is that it encourages dancing, a physical activity that helps keep you in healthy shape!
4 .Work on a Picture Puzzle
5. Household Chores
8. Read a Book
Dementia And Alzheimers Disease Treatment
There is currently no cure for dementia, and current treatments cannot reverse the damage. However, if symptoms arise due to vitamin deficiencies or drug use, there may be options to prevent the condition from progressing.
Other treatment options depending on the type of dementia.
Treatments for Alzheimers disease, for example, aim to relieve symptoms and could involve
- ensuring personal comfort and safety
- having exposure to sunlight and getting regular exercise, which can help with sleep
- undergoing cognitive training or cognitive rehabilitation therapy to help develop habits that help manage daily life
Some drugs aim to treat the symptoms of Alzheimers disease, while others help manage related issues, such as sleep problems, anxiety, or other symptoms. The person and their caregiver will need to work with a doctor to find suitable treatments at each stage.
Lifestyle strategies, such as getting regular exercise and eating a varied diet, contribute to overall health and may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia.
Does Medicare cover dementia care? Find out here.
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What Is Alzheimers Disease
In Alzheimers disease, researchers believe that a buildup of unusual proteins forms plaques and tangles in the brain and causes symptoms.
These proteins surround brain cells and can affect their ability to communicate. This eventually causes damage to the cells until they can no longer function.
Some scientists have found that these buildups occur in specific areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. This region plays a crucial role in long-term memory recall.
Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
Although age is the main risk factor for Alzheimers disease, this is not just a condition that affects older adults.
According to the Alzheimers Association, early onset Alzheimers disease affects around 200,000 U.S. adults under the age of 65 years. Many people with this condition are in their 40s or 50s.
In many cases, doctors do not know why younger people develop this condition. Several rare genes can cause the condition. When there is a genetic cause, it is known as familial Alzheimers disease.
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Social And Economic Impact
Dementia has significant social and economic implications in terms of direct medical and social care costs, and the costs of informal care. In 2015, the total global societal cost of dementia was estimated to be US$ 818 billion, equivalent to 1.1% of global gross domestic product . The total cost as a proportion of GDP varied from 0.2% in low- and middle-income countries to 1.4% in high-income countries.
Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is another common form of dementia. It is caused by a build up of proteins called Lewy Bodies in the body. Lewy Bodies are also what cause Parkinsons disease, which is why both illnesses share the symptoms of reduced mobility and a shuffling walk. DLB also causes significant mental decline associated with the other major types of dementia, including lapses in memory and forgetfulness.
Read more about Dementia with Lewy bodies, including symptoms and treatments, in our Guide to Lewy Body Dementia.
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What Are The Stages Of Dementia
The stages of dementia vary from person to person and the type of dementia. Keeping the four common types of dementia in mind, these seven stages are the usual progression that is experienced:
- No symptoms yet, but tests might reveal a problem
- Very mild changes in behavior, but independence remains
- Mild decline is noticeable, including changes in thinking, forgetting events, and repeating statements
- Moderate decline, meaning trouble remembering recent events and handling money
- A moderate to severe decline where they forget names, are unsure what time of day it is, and need some assistance with basic daily tasks
- Their decline is severe they are forgetting their spouses name, their personality is changing, and they need help eating and going to the bathroom
- Very severe decline, where they are unable to walk, can no longer speak their thoughts, and spend most time in bed
What Are The Stages Of Alzheimers
Alzheimers disease slowly gets worse over time. People with this disease progress at different rates and in several stages. Symptoms may get worse and then improve, but until an effective treatment for the disease itself is found, the persons ability will continue to decline over the course of the disease.
Early-stage Alzheimers is when a person begins to experience memory loss and other cognitive difficulties, though the symptoms appear gradual to the person and their family. Alzheimers disease is often diagnosed at this stage.
During middle-stage Alzheimers, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. People at this stage may have more confusion and trouble recognizing family and friends.
In late-stage Alzheimers, a person cannot communicate, is completely dependent on others for care, and may be in bed most or all the time as the body shuts down.
How long a person can live with Alzheimers disease varies. A person may live as few as three or four years if he or she is older than 80 when diagnosed, to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Older adults with Alzheimers disease need to know their end-of-life care options and express their wishes to caregivers as early as possible after a diagnosis, before their thinking and speaking abilities fail.
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