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How To Recognize Dementia In The Elderly

Document And Share Dementia Behaviors With A Doctor

SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA ( In the elderly it’s hard to tell )

Track signs of dementia using your phone or a journal. Its important to share specific examples with a doctor.

If youre worried about upsetting a loved one, submit your observations to their physician privately in writing. Keep in mind that HIPAA authorization is not needed for you to share concerns with a parents health professional.

Include details about:

  • When you first noticed dementia behavior
  • Specific dementia symptoms your parents show
  • How often they struggle and when it happens
  • Changes in their normal routine or behavior

Dont Let Fear Get In The Way

Steering clear of the doctor because you worry that you or a loved one might have dementia means forgoing the chance to get treatment for a potentially reversible condition. And while there is no cure for Alzheimers, FTL, vascular dementia, and many types of dementia, there is much that can be done to improve a persons quality of life.

By treating for comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia , we can help prevent strokes and keep a vascular dementia from progressing, says Dr. Adelman. Or discovering that a patient has an underlying cardiac problem, like atrial fibrillation, where little clots are causing brain injury, we can anticoagulate the patient and try to prevent further assaults to the brain.

Lifestyle changes, like getting adequate exercise, doing mentally stimulating activities, and avoiding medications that can cause confusion, such as certain allergy medications, can also make a big difference.

And, ultimately, knowledge, even if its painful knowledge, is power.

If the diagnosis is Alzheimers or another dementia-causing disease, says Dr. Adelman, you can start to put legal, financial, and advance care plans in place, when the patient can fully participate and determine her or his goals of care. This advance care planning will hopefully help improve a patients quality of life and reduce some aspects of family caregiver stress.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia

Early symptoms of dementia include :

  • Forgetting recent events or information
  • Repeating comments or questions over a very short period of time
  • Misplacing commonly used items or placing them in usual spots
  • Not knowing the date or time
  • Having difficulty coming up with the right words
  • Experiencing a change in mood, behavior or interests

Signs that dementia is getting worse include:

  • Ability to remember and make decisions further declines
  • Talking and finding the right words becomes more difficult
  • Daily complex tasks, such as brushing teeth, making a cup of coffee, working a tv remote, cooking, and paying bills become more challenging
  • Rational thinking and behavior and ability to problem solve lessen
  • Sleeping pattern change
  • Anxiety, frustration, confusion, agitation, suspiciousness, sadness and/or depression increase
  • More help with activities of daily living grooming, toileting, bathing, eating is needed
  • Hallucinations may develop

The symptoms mentioned above are general symptoms of dementia. Each person diagnosed with dementia has different symptoms, depending on what area of the brain is damaged. Additional symptoms and/or unique symptoms occur with specific types of dementia.

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How Is Dementia Different From Normal Ageing

Many of us get a little more forgetful as we get older. Most people will need a bit longer to remember things, get distracted more easily or struggle to multi-task as well as they once did. This may become noticeable particularly from middle age – usually taken as during our 40s, 50s and early 60s – onwards.

These changes are normal, but they can be a nuisance and at times frustrating. However, you may worry that these things are an early sign of dementia. It’s important not to worry too much about this. For most people, these changes will be the result of normal ageing and won’t be down to dementia.

Key Features Of Dementia

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A person having dementia means that all five of the following statements are true:

  • A person is having difficulty with one or more types of mental function. Although its common for memory to be affected, other parts of thinking function can be impaired. The 2013 DSM-5 manual lists these six types of cognitive function to consider: learning and memory, language, executive function, complex attention, perceptual-motor function, social cognition.
  • The difficulties are a decline from the persons prior level of ability. These cant be lifelong problems with reading or math or even social graces. These problems should represent a change, compared to the persons usual abilities as an adult.
  • The problems are bad enough to impair daily life function. Its not enough for a person to have an abnormal result on an office-based cognitive test. The problems also have to be substantial enough to affect how the person manages usual life, such as work and family responsibilities.
  • The problems are not due to a reversible condition, such as delirium, or another reversible illness. Common conditions that can cause or worsen dementia-like symptoms include hypothyroidism, depression, and medication side-effects.
  • The problems arent better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia.

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Knowing The Stages Of Dementia Helps You Plan

Even if the stages arent exact and symptoms can still be unpredictable, being able to plan ahead is essential.

The truth is that Alzheimers and dementia care is expensive and time-consuming. Being financially prepared for increasing care needs is a necessity.

On an emotional level, having an idea of what symptoms to expect helps you find ways to cope with challenging behaviors.

It also gives you a chance to mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable changes in your older adult.

What Medications Are Available To Treat Dementia

Drugs approved for the most common form of dementia, Alzheimers disease, are discussed below. These drugs are also used to treat people with some of the other forms of dementia.

  • cholinesterase inhibitors
  • NMDA receptor antagonist memantine

These two classes of drugs affect different chemical processes in the brain. Both classes have been shown to provide some benefit in improving or stabilizing memory function in some patients. Although none of these drugs appear to stop the progression of the underlying disease, they may slow it down.

If other medical conditions are causing dementia or co-exist with dementia, the appropriate drugs used to treat those specific conditions are prescribed.

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Understand When Its Caregiver Abuse

If the manipulation becomes severe, resulting in physical/mental abuse or neglect, it may have crossed over into the realm of caregiver abuse. At this point, you need to take a more serious and hardline approach.

If they are abusing you and know that they are abusing you, remove yourself from the situation. You are not obligated to care for abusive parents, especially when they can meet their needs themselves or move into a care facility.

Youre there to make their life easier, and if they reject that and throw it back in your face, step back.

Of course, its a different story for elders who struggle with dementia and other mental health problems.

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

Recognizing the early Signs of Dementia

by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated September 27, 2021

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 the “2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report fromthe 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.

Lewy body dementia. Abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, affect brain chemistry and lead to problems with behavior, mood, movement and thinking.

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Dementia Is A Family Concern

Dementia affects families. Everyone in the family has to deal with the loss of the individual’s memory, becoming disoriented and other symptoms of elderly dementia.

In the later stages, family members are the ones caring for their loved one who may not seem like the father/husband/wife/mother that they remember.

Caregiving for someone with dementia can be stressful and lead to caregiver burnout.

Tips for Families of Individuals with Elderly Dementia

  • Learn as much as you can about dementia
  • Recognize that elderly dementia affects the individuals abilities
  • Don’t forget about the individual
  • Explore treatment options
  • Recognize your emotions and the emotions of other caregivers
  • Plan ahead
  • Recognize that caregiving is stressful
  • Seek help

Stage : Mild Dementia

At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:

  • Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty recognizing faces and people

In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.

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How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia

There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.

How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia

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Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.

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What Are The Warning Signs That Life Is Nearing An End

When an elderly person with dementia is almost bearing their end, it can be very traumatic especially for the loved ones. It is important to have an idea of what signs one needs to expect when the end comes as this can give you some sort of comfort.

When you think of a condition such as Alzheimers disease, a person can live for over 10 years with it. It is possible to make the person happy over those years. Since we are not immortals, at some point life does come to an end when you have dementia and it is something that one needs to be prepared for especially if they are caregivers.

Handling the final stage of dementia is much easier, especially when you are aware of the things that you should expect. It is important to give the person the kind of care that will award him or her dignified and peaceful death.

Usually, when a person is about to reach the end, the dementia symptoms usually get worse and this can be quite upsetting. Some of the things that you may notice include:

  • Limited mobility so they may have to be bed bound
  • Limited speech or no speech at all
  • Double incontinence
  • Difficulties swallowing and eating

It is important to note that the above symptoms do not really mean that the person will just die. There are people who can have such symptoms for quite some time. You should also remember that about two-thirds of dementia patients succumb to other ailments such as pneumonia.

Some of the other signs that can indicate that death is indeed close include:

Dementia Symptoms To Track In Elderly Parents

No one knows your parents personalities, hobbies, or quirks like you do. So if you notice unusual behavioror experience a persistent feeling that something is offtheres a good chance it is. Aging is a well-known risk factor for Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. In fact, the risk of developing Alzheimers disease doubles every five years in people 65 and older.

Learning to spot key dementia symptoms in aging parents and documenting the early stages of dementia can make a big difference. Your observations could provide helpful insight to doctors, which can lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Discover eight dementia behaviors to track and how to get a diagnosis and treatment.

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Mise En Pratique Des Connaissances

  • À mesure que la population canadienne vieillit, la prévalence de la démence augmente de façon exponentielle et les demandes auxquelles doivent répondre les individus, la société et les fournisseurs de soins de santé saccroissent en conséquence.

  • Les pharmaciens peuvent jouer un plus grand rôle dans le traitement et le soutien des personnes atteintes de démence, en particulier en informant les patients et les aidants sur la maladie et sa progression, en se familiarisant avec les outils de dépistage qui peuvent être utilisés dans la pratique de la pharmacie pour évaluer la fonction cognitive, et en gérant les médicaments des patients à différents stades de la démence.

Of all the things Ive lost, I miss my mind the most.

Mark Twain

Can Dementia Be Diagnosed During A Single Visit

Persons with Dementia: Skills for Addressing Challenging Behaviors (V16MIR)

So can dementia be diagnosed during a single visit? As you can see from above, it depends on how much information is easily available at that visit. It also depends on the symptoms and circumstances of the older adult being evaluated.

Memory clinics are more likely to provide a diagnosis during the visit, or shortly afterwards. Thats because they usually request a lot of relevant medical information ahead of time, send the patient for tests if needed, and interview the patient and informers extensively during the visit.

But in the primary care setting, and in my own geriatric consultations, I find that clinicians need more than one visit to diagnose dementia or probable dementia. Thats because we usually need to order tests, request past medical records for review, and gather more information from the people who know the senior being evaluated. Its a bit like a detectives investigation!

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At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia

There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.

An Early Signs Of Dementia And Alzheimers Checklist

Noticing potential signs of dementia or Alzheimers in a loved one can be stressful. It can help to write down what you see so that you can reference it later when talking to a health professional. Writing down what is normal for your loved one can also help you notice what might simply be normal signs of aging. Download our checklist so you can keep track of the changes see.

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How Hospice Can Help With End

In addition to helping you in recognizing the signs of dying in the elderly with dementia, bringing in hospice care will help with the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. Nurses will be able to adjust medication and care plans as the individuals needs change. Aides can help with bathing, grooming, and other personal care. Social workers can help organize resources for the patient and family. Chaplains and bereavement specials can help the family with any emotional or spiritual needs. Additionally, family members can contact hospice at any time, and do not need to wait until it is recommended by the patient’s physician.

To learn more about the criteria for hospice eligibility or to schedule a consultation, please contact Crossroads using the blue Help Center bar on this page for more information on how we can help provide support to individuals with dementia and their families.

How Is Dementia Diagnosed

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To diagnose dementia, doctors first assess whether a person has an underlying, potentially treatable, condition that may relate to cognitive difficulties. A physical exam to measure blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as laboratory tests of blood and other fluids to check levels of various chemicals, hormones, and vitamins, can help uncover or rule out possible causes of symptoms.

A review of a persons medical and family history can provide important clues about risk for dementia. Typical questions might include asking about whether dementia runs in the family, how and when symptoms began, changes in behavior and personality, and if the person is taking certain medications that might cause or worsen symptoms.

The following procedures also may be used to diagnose dementia:

  • Psychiatric evaluation. This evaluation will help determine if depression or another mental health condition is causing or contributing to a person’s symptoms.
  • Genetic tests. Some dementias are caused by a persons genes. In these cases, a genetic test can help people know if they are at risk for dementia. It is important to talk with a genetic counselor before and after getting tested, along with family members and the doctor.
  • Early detection of symptoms is important, as some causes can be treated. However, in many cases, the cause of dementia is unknown and cannot be treated. Still, obtaining an early diagnosis can help with managing the condition and planning ahead.

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