Think Through Who Should Have The Conversation
Is there a certain family member or close friend who can positively influence your loved one? Consider asking that person to be with you or have the conversation privately.
Have you had a tough conversation with a parent about dementia symptoms? Share your stories and tips with us in the comments below.
How Do People Know They Have It
The first sign of Alzheimer disease is an ongoing pattern of forgetting things. This starts to affect a person’s daily life. He or she may forget where the grocery store is or the names of family and friends. This stage may last for some time or get worse quickly, causing more severe memory loss and forgetfulness.
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.
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Is Dementia A Mental Illness
Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.
What Is The Clock Test For Dementia
The clock test is a non-verbal screening tool that may be used as part of the assessment for dementia, Alzheimers, and other neurological problems. The clock test screens for cognitive impairment. The individual being screened is asked to draw a clock with the hour and minute hands pointing to a specific time. Research has shown that six potential errors in the clock testthe wrong time, no hands, missing numbers, number substitutions, repetition, and refusalcould be indicative of dementia.
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Acknowledge The Conversation May Not Go As Planned
You know you have good intentions, but your loved one may not be open or willing to discuss the changes you have noticed. They may be angry or defensive. Dont force the conversation. Take a break and plan to revisit the conversation later. If your loved one still refuses help, contact a medical professional.
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.
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What To Do If You Think A Loved One Has Alzheimer’s
Have you noticed your mothers memory declining? Do you question your husbands judgment in areas where he has always displayed competence in until recently? Has your sister been behaving strangely lately and falsely accusing you of taking her money?
If youre in that uncomfortable place where you suspect your loved one may have Alzheimers, it can be difficult to know what to do. Its a touchy subject to raise, and one that requires careful thought before doing so.
Dont Put Off The Conversation
Drew encourages families to have a talk about Alzheimers symptoms and plan for care as early as possible even before a family member exhibits signs of the disease.
But even when someone is already in the early stages of Alzheimers, they may still be able to express their wishes and have a voice in their future care.
I have never had a family come to me and say, Weve talked about this too soon, says Drew. Its always the reverse. They always wish they had done these things at the beginning instead of waiting. In some cases, families wait too long to put things in order and have conversations when a person is still well enough to let you know what his or her preferences are.
Furthermore, the sooner people get medical advice about potential Alzheimers symptoms, the better.
Early signs can indicate Alzheimers, or maybe its something different, says Drew. It may be something that is very treatable and curable.
Although there are no treatments to cure Alzheimers or stop it from progressing, some medication can help decrease symptoms for a limited time.
Some medications seem to work better the earlier people start them, so there is that benefit, says Drew.
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Withdrawing From Friends And Family
If your loved one stops going to social events and engaging in activities they once enjoyed, that can be a red flag. Depression related to their memory lapses and difficulty communicating can also cause withdrawal from social situations.
If youre wondering how to help someone with Alzheimers, Life Care Services provides professional services in safe living environments for seniors with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia. We also offer resources on our site to help you learn more about Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, including tips on how to talk with someone who has dementia. To learn more or to request a tour, use our search tool to find a Life Care Services® community in your area.
Can Dementia Suddenly Get Worse
The progression of dementia depends on the underlying disease. Some diseases have a rapid progression. Others progress more slowly. Any sudden change with either slow or rapid progression should be evaluated for another cause. In most cases, changes with dementia may seem like they came out of the blue when they actually may have been slowly developing in the background. The best way to prepare for changes and manage expectations is through information. Your doctor and medical team will be a valuable resource. There are a variety of educational resources that are also available through the Alzheimer’s Association.
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Get Family And Healthcare Providers Involved
If youre having difficulty communicating with a parent or other relative about Alzheimers, see if another family member or a close friend might be willing to try. Someone else may get better results.
If signs of early-stage Alzheimers are apparent, its also important to get the individual to see a doctor right away for a comprehensive evaluation for the disease.
Document And Share Dementia Behaviors With A Doctor
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
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What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
Pick A Comfortable Time And Setting
If you do sit down to talk to someone about possible signs of Alzheimers disease, choose a relaxed setting with few distractions. To help things go smoothly, you may also want to practice what you want to say in advance.
Drew says that the right time and place is different for different people, but if you know the person well, you may know what will work best for them.
One woman waited for a trip home at Thanksgiving to talk to her parents about the subject, according to Drew. The atmosphere at the holiday felt right for a loving and productive conversation.
The woman asked her parents, if she ever saw any changes in them that made her worry, would they want her to tell them about her concerns? says Drew. That opened the door to a conversation at a time when nobody was upset or worried. It gave the parents a chance to say, Yes! We would want you to tell us.
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Psychological And Mental State Assessment
It is important to rule out mental ill health, including depression, as a cause of memory loss. Standard tests that measure mental ability are not appropriate for people with learning disabilities, as they already have some mental impairment and may not have the language or memory skills that the tests require. A range of assessment tools have now been developed specifically for people with Down’s syndrome or other learning disabilities. Assessment with one of these tools will be done by a clinical psychologist or other specialist with experience of learning disabilities.
What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age but are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. A doctor can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if a person has MCI. People with MCI are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimers disease, so its important to see a doctor or specialist regularly if you have this condition.
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What Causes Alzheimer Disease
Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get it. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk increases the older the person gets. In other words, an 85-year-old is more likely to get it than a 65-year-old. And women are more likely to get it than men.
Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn’t mean everyone related to someone who has it will get the disease. Other things may make it more likely that someone will get the disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.
On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active may help delay the start of Alzheimer disease.
What Is The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia
First, some explanation of dementia vs. Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability that interferes with daily life. Not a normal part of aging, most dementias are typically caused by damaged brain cells.
Of all the dementias, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, accounting for 60-80% of the cases. In other words, it is a specific disease while “dementia” is a general term for a life-altering decline in brain function .
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What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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.
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Informing Your Loved One About Their Alzheimers Diagnosis
Lets first look at reasons why a family member might not inform someone of their Alzheimers diagnosis,There are a number of symptoms, In 2008, with Snowdons retirement, Researchers and doctorsThe person may: Be unable to remember occurrences for even a few minutes, director of the Fisher Alzheimers Disease Education and Resources Program at New York University Langone Medical Center.
Dont Just Talk Loudly
Not every person with dementia has a hearing impairment, and using a loud tone can make them feel like you are yelling at them. Use a clear, normal tone of voice to start a conversation with someone.
If the person doesnt respond or you become aware that they have a hearing problem, you can increase your volume. Speaking in a slightly lower register can also help if someone has a hearing problem.
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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.
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What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .
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Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia
What Are The Signs Of Dementia
Most age-related memory problems are not signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but evidence of a slowdown in the brain’s processing speed that increases the time it takes to retrieve information. As we age, our ability to divide our attention among more than one task or bits of information also declines, which can interfere with storing new memories.
While you may be able to chalk off a few memory lapses to normal aging, there are some common warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If you or someone you love is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, talk to a doctor.
Trouble remembering things. At first, only short-term memory may be affected, with long-term memory issues developing later. People may forget an appointment or the name of a new acquaintance. Many people complain of memory loss but can provide considerable detail regarding incidents of forgetfulness, such as where they were at the time. However, acknowledging memory loss only if asked and being unable to recall specific instances when they were unable to remember something can be a sign of dementia.
Trouble completing ordinary tasks. Simple tasks that once caused no difficulty may become much more challenging. For example, forgetting how to use the oven, lock the door, or get dressed can be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Impaired judgment. The individual might have trouble making decisions, solving problems, or planning.For example, he may no longer be able to balance a checkbook or pay bills.
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