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How To Know If You Have Dementia

Support Their Cultural And Spiritual Needs

How Do You Know If You Have Alzheimer Disease

Its good to be aware of the persons cultural and spiritual needs and make sure these are respected and supported. You can make use of any advance care plans or documents, friends and family input and your knowledge of the person. Its important to try and meet these needs as much as possible, they are just as important as medical care.

What Are The Different Types Of Dementia

Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.

The five most common forms of dementia are:

  • Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
  • Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
  • Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
  • Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
  • Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.

Do Not Try And Alter Undesirable Behavior

Lack of understanding may push one to try and change or stop any undesirable behavior from patients who have dementia. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to teach new skills or even reason with the patient. Try instead to decrease frequency or intensity of the behavior. For instance, respond to emotion and not the changes in behavior. If a patient insists on always asking about a particular family member reassure them that he or she is safe and healthy as a way of keeping them calm and happy.

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How Long Do Dementia Patients Live After Diagnosis

Dementia symptoms typically progress slowly. People with dementia will progress from mild to severe dementia at varying speeds and may be diagnosed earlier or later in life. Some people with dementia may live for up to 20 years after their diagnosis, though according to the Alzheimer’s Association research shows that the average person lives for four to eight years after a diagnosis of dementia. It’s important to point out that the diagnosis of dementia is often missed, delayed, or diagnosed when the illness is moderate or advanced. The impact of that variable may not be accurately reflected in the research regarding the years of life post-diagnosis.

Discuss Test Results With A Doctor

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Dont assume that the test results are equal to a diagnosis of any kind.

The SAGE test is a screening tool that helps doctors detect early signs of cognitive impairment that are typically not noticeable during a normal office visit.

When the test is repeated over time, doctors can watch for changes in cognitive ability. Being able to measure changes helps them detect and treat health conditions early.

Thats why its important to bring the completed test to the doctor to have it reviewed. If there are signs of cognitive impairment, they may recommend further testing.

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Your Role As A Caregiver

Establishing a good working relationship with the primary care physician helps ensure good care and ongoing support. A comprehensive medical workup that rules out treatable conditions and provides information on current status offers a foundation for care planning, now and in the future.

An accurate diagnosis begins a process of education for caregivers and families so that needs can be met and resources located and put to use. Irreversible dementia requires a level of care that increases as the disease progresses. Through education and the use of available resources, families can learn new skills to handle shifting care needs.

Many families provide care at home for a person with dementia. While this can be an enriching and very rewarding experience, it can also be stressful. Studies have shown that caring for someone with a brain-impairing disorder can be more stressful than caring for someone with a physical impairment. It is essential that caregivers take the time to care for themselves physically and emotionally.

Support and assistance are very important throughout the months or years you are a caregiver. You will need respite from time to timeâa break from caregiving demands. Help from friends, other family members, or community agencies is invaluable so that you can continue to provide your loved one with good care without becoming exhausted, frustrated, or simply burned out.

How Can I Support Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life

Knowing the person will make it easier to provide person-centred care that is focused on what they need and want. It can help to know about their likes, dislikes and their wishes for how they want to be cared for. If the person isnt able to tell you about themselves, speak to their family, friends or other people who know them well.

Its a good idea to find out if the person has a copy of This is me , a document that records information about themselves. If you cant speak to the person, ask those close to them if they have a copy. They may have these details recorded in their care plan.

There are many ways to support someone with dementia at the end of life.

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Do Not Ask Your Parent To Remember Something

As you carry on this challenging conversation, you might tend to ask your parent if they remember a person or event. Keep in mind that they are in the throes of dementia and do not remember things as they once did. All you would accomplish by asking them to remember something is to embarrass or frustrate them.

Less Common Forms Of Dementia

How do you know if you or someone else has dementia?

Picks Disease affects personality, orientation and behavior. It may be more common in women and occurs at an early age.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease progresses rapidly along with mental deterioration and involuntary movements.

Huntingtons Disease is an inherited, degenerative disease. The disease causes involuntary movement and usually begins during mid-life.

Parkinsons Disease Dementia can develop in the later stages of Parkinsons disease, a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.

Lewy Body Dementia causes symptoms similar to Alzheimers disease. People with Lewy Body dementia experience hallucinations and can become fearful.

Mild cognitive impairment

Mild cognitive impairment is a stage between normal aging and dementia and involves problems with memory, language, or other cognitive functions. But unlike those with full-blown dementia, people with MCI are still able to function in their daily lives without relying on others.

Many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia. However, others plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline and are able to live independently. Some people with mild cognitive impairment even return to normal.

Symptoms of MCI include:

  • Frequently losing or misplacing things.
  • Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events.
  • Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances.
  • Difficulty following the flow of a conversation.

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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.

Putting Things In The Wrong Place

This is different to: more normal age-related behaviours such as losing things but being able to retrace the steps to find them.

Losing things or putting things in strange places, and then being unable to retrace steps to find them again, is on the official observation list for early signs of dementia.

Sometimes someone else might be accused of stealing which may occur more frequently over time. For example, your dad may insist that a friend keeps stealing his money, whereas its in its regular hiding place.

Other examples that may indicate potential dementia symptoms could include:

  • Teabags in the fridge and leaving the milk out
  • Toothbrush in the washing basket
  • Remote control in the cutlery drawer
  • Dirty laundry in the dishwasher

Misplacing or losing items is more common in Alzheimers Disease, rather than vascular dementia. Find out more about the different types of dementia.

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What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia

The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.

How To Spot Early Indicators That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimers Or Dementia

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by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated May 4, 2021| 0

En español | From age 50 on, its not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things.

But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening to a loved ones brain.

Dementia isnt actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to a 2021 report by the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 percent to 70 percent of cases, but a range of brain illnesses can lead to the condition .

Diseases that cause dementia

These conditions are the leading causes of dementia. Many patients have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types, such as Alzheimers and vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia. The second most common type of dementia is caused from damage to the vessels that supply blood to the brain. It tends to affect focus, organization, problem-solving and speed of thinking more noticeably than memory.

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Symptoms In The Later Stages Of Dementia

As dementia progresses, memory loss and difficulties with communication often become severe. In the later stages, the person is likely to neglect their own health, and require constant care and attention.

The most common symptoms of advanced dementia include:

  • memory problems people may not recognise close family and friends, or remember where they live or where they are
  • communication problems some people may eventually lose the ability to speak altogether. Using non-verbal means of communication, such as facial expressions, touch and gestures, can help
  • mobility problems many people become less able to move about unaided. Some may eventually become unable to walk and require a wheelchair or be confined to bed
  • behavioural problems a significant number of people will develop what are known as “behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia”. These may include increased agitation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, wandering, aggression, or sometimes hallucinations
  • bladder incontinence is common in the later stages of dementia, and some people will also experience bowel incontinence
  • appetite and weight loss problems are both common in advanced dementia. Many people have trouble eating or swallowing, and this can lead to choking, chest infections and other problems. Alzheimer’s Society has a useful factsheet on eating and drinking

Medical Treatment For Dementia

There are no cures for degenerative or irreversible dementias, so medical treatments focus on maximizing the individualâs cognitive and functional abilities. Specific treatments for dementia vary depending on the cause of the dementia. For patients with Alzheimerâs disease and Lewy body disease, for example, medications are available to slow the rate of decline and improve memory function. These medications are known as cholinesterase inhibitors and seem to be effective for some patients. For patients with Alzheimerâs disease, a newer medication, which prevents the buildup of chemicals thought to contribute to memory loss, has also been developed. Treatment for vascular dementia includes controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additional medications are available to manage other symptoms associated with dementia, including sleep disorders, movement problems, depression, or behavioral symptoms such as irritability or agitation. Because treatments vary depending on the cause of dementia, an accurate diagnosis is critical.

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Be Aware Of The Signs Of Dementia

Although dementia is not only about memory loss, that’s one of the main signs.

Some of the other signs of dementia include:

  • increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
  • changes in personality and mood
  • periods of mental confusion
  • difficulty finding the right words or not being able to understand conversations as easily

You may like to suggest you go with your friend or relative to see a GP so you can support them. You’ll also be able to help them recall what has been discussed.

A GP will ask how the symptoms have developed over time. They may also do a memory test and physical examination. Blood tests may be done to check if the symptoms are being caused by another condition.

If other causes can be ruled out, the GP will usually refer your friend or relative to a memory clinic, or other specialist service, where they may have more assessments to confirm whether they have dementia.

Read more about how dementia is diagnosed.

Memory Problems Or Normal Aging Take This Quiz To See

Easy Test to Find Out if You May Have Early Signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  • Complains about memory loss and gives details about forgetting
  • yes
  • Showing Signs of Normal Aging: +1
  • Showing Signs of Early Dementia: 0
  • This table shows the meaning of each possible result:

    Showing Signs of Normal Aging

    Typically, as we get older our mental process can slow down. Not being able to do things as quickly as before can be worrisome, but is normal. Older people who do not have dementia continue to be able to learn new things, don’t get lost in familiar places, can operate common appliances, maintain prior interests and social skills and perform normally on mental status examinations.

    Showing Signs of Early Dementia

    Dementia is memory loss which goes beyond the normal slowing of mental processes as we age. People showing early signs of dementia typically are less worried about their memory loss than other people. They may repeat questions, frequently forget names and words, become more withdrawn from activities and conversation, get lost traveling in familiar places, behave differently than before, be unable to recall recent events and have trouble with memory tests.

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    A Personal Alarm Built With Dementia In Mind

    If you care for someone with dementia, you may want to consider a system like the CPR Guardian Smartwatch. This light and stylish watch is often preferred by elderly relatives who are used to wearing a watch every day. The CPR Guardian can pair with a carers smartphone, enabling them to find out the wearers GPS location and communicate with the wearer directly through the watch. The watch also comes with an SOS button that alerts the carer directly when pressed. It can even monitor the wearers heart rate! All of these features mean that there is always a way to keep track of your relative with dementia, make sure theyre okay, and be alerted if there is ever a problem.

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    If Youre Worried About Possible Dementia

    Lets say youre like the man I spoke to recently, and youre worried that an older parent might have dementia. Youre planning to have a doctor assess your parent. Heres how you can help the process along:

    • Obtain copies of your parents medical information, so you can bring them to the dementia evaluation visit. The most useful information to bring is laboratory results and any imaging of the brain, such as CAT scans or MRIs. See this post for a longer list of medical information that is very helpful to bring to a new doctor.

    Is Dementia Treatable

    Pin by Join Dementia Research on Did you know...?

    First, its important to understand the difference in the terms treatable, reversible, and curable. All or almost all forms of dementia are treatable, in that medication and supportive measures are available to help manage symptoms in patients with dementia. However, most types of dementia remain incurable or irreversible and treatment results in only modest benefits.

    Some dementias disorders, however, may be successfully treated, with patient returning to normal after treatment. These dementias are ones caused by:

    • Side effects of medications or illicit drugs alcohol
    • Tumors that can be removed
    • Subdural hematoma, a buildup of blood beneath the outer covering of the brain that is caused by a head injury
    • Normal pressure hydrocephalus, a buildup of cerebral spinal fluid in the brain
    • Metabolic disorders, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency
    • Hypothyroidism, a condition that results from low levels of thyroid hormones
    • Hypoglycemia, a condition that results from low blood sugar
    • Depression

    Dementias that are not reversible, but may still be at least partially responsive to medications currently available for memory loss or behavior-based problems include:

    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Dementias associated with Parkinson’s disease and similar disorders
    • AIDS dementia complex
    • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

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