How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
These tests are used to diagnose Alzheimers disease or to rule out other medical conditions that cause symptoms similar to Alzheimers disease:
Decide On Future Financial And Medical Plans With The Patient
It is important to get clarity on how to cope as time progresses and the dementia worsens. You should have clear plans worked out on who will manage the banking and financial affairs of the individual. Share your number with the utility company, informing them of the condition of your loved one, so that power supply or heating isnt cut off if they forget to pay their bills. Also do the difficult task of discussing which medical treatments they would prefer not to be subjected to, should the need arise at a future date.15 This legal document is known as an advance care directive and details what health decisions can be made on their behalf if they are no longer capable of doing so.16
Don’t Assume They’re Choosing To Be Difficult
This is a common reaction often seen in someone who is very close to the person with Alzheimer’s. Sometimes, subconsciously, it may be easier to believe that your loved one is intentionally doing things to bother or hurt you than to accept that they are unable to control their actions and that their memory really is poor.
What results from this, though, are feelings of intense frustration, hurt, and impatience, none of which help either of you. You will both win if you give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume that their choices are the result of dementia.
How Can Caregivers Best Help
Scheduling pleasant activities, helping a loved one structure their day in a meaningful way, and problem-solving around issues contributing to distress may all help improve mood and decrease anxiety. In addition, it is important to help your loved one keep their brain sharp by eating a healthy Mediterranean diet, , and yes, .
Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.
Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.
Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.
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The Risk Of Dementia In Late
Late-onset schizophrenia is usually defined as onset after 40 years of age, and very-late-onset as after 60 years of age. Studies of schizophrenia of late and very late onset are few and inconsistent in their results.
Reference Palmer, Bondi and TwamleyPalmer et al compared changes in cognition over 1 and 2 years for out-patients with late-onset schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, earlier-onset schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, Alzheimers disease with psychosis, or Alzheimers disease with baseline MMSE scores > 25, and healthy comparison participants. Cognitive changes among participants in the two schizophrenia-spectrum disorder groups were similar to those in the healthy controls, whereas both Alzheimers disease groups showed greater declines in cognition. The authors concluded that late-onset schizophrenia is a neurodegenerative disorder and, in agreement with earlier studies, a static encephalopathy.
This Danish study suggests that, although people with late-onset and very-late-onset schizophrenia have an increased risk of developing dementia, it does not seem to be due to an increased risk of developing Alzheimers disease, thus pointing to the possibility that they are developing a different type of dementia.
Box 1 summarises the evidence from international studies.
BOX 1 Cognitive impairment in schizophrenia
Cognitive impairment is a feature of schizophrenia
Over 25% of older people with schizophrenia have moderate to severe cognitive impairment
What Causes These Behavioral Changes In Those With Alzheimers
These difficult behaviors are what doctors call noncognitive neuropsychiatric symptoms . They are a result of damaged brain cells, caused by dementia and Alzheimers. Not surprisingly, an impaired brain loses its ability to function properly. As a result, it can dramatically change how a person will act.
Physiological changes caused by the disease are primarily what trigger shifts in behavior. However, disturbing behavior can also be caused by certain environmental conditions. These can aggravate and complicate the situation for a person with Alzheimers. Examples include:
- A noisy restaurant
- A large party where everyone is talking at once
- A loud television
All of these situations can make it more difficult for someone to cope with the changes going on in their brain. Behavioral difficulties may also be a result of true physical discomfort and someone with Alzheimers may not be able to communicate this. Make sure their anger and anxiety arent stemming from bad arthritis, constipation, cramps or some other physical pain. Make sure their clothes arent bothering them and that they arent too hot or too cold.
Wondering how to support a loved ones goal of being able to age at home? Were here to help. Whether its for one month or ten years, our caregivers can help your loved one live the life they want at home. Call a Care Advisor today at or and learn more about how we can support your needs.
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People With Dementia Are Often Ignored
A person living with dementia might be ignored or dismissed in conversations,” says Ms McCabe. Sometimes people, without realising, will talk directly to carer as if the person living with dementia is not even there.
Assumptions might be made about a person’s capacity to contribute to conversations, decision-making, whether they can still drive, cook or even continue to work. Friends and family might stop calling or inviting a person living with dementia to social occasions not out of deliberate neglect but possibly out of not knowing how to include them.”
According to a 2016 study conducted by Dementia Australia, people with dementia are:
- more than twice as likely not to see friends when compared with their carers and the general public
- more than 3 times as likely not to have a friend to confide in when compared with their carers and the general public
- almost 3 times as likely not to have a friend to call on for help when compared with the general public
Dementia is not just ‘an older person’s disease’. There are an estimated 27,247 Australians living with younger onset dementia which describes any form of dementia diagnosed in people under 65 years. 2019 Dementia Australia Prevalence Data
Recognize When Alzheimers Patients Need A Higher Level Of Care
In later stages of the disease, caring for an Alzheimers patient at home often becomes too demanding, dangerous and expensive. Family caregivers must respect their personal limits, recognize serious changes in their loved ones condition, and learn about alternative Alzheimers care options that may be more appropriate as daily needs increase.
Strategies For Dealing With Alzheimers
Sometimes prescription drugs can be helpful in treating these behavioral changes. There are medications for anger management, depression and anxiety. Non-drug therapies have also proven to be successful in mitigating and managing behavior issues associated with Alzheimers.
Caregivers cant do much to prevent Alzheimers-related changes in personality and behavior, but there are ways to cope. Try the following strategies:
Do Not Try To Stop A Person Who Wants To Leave A Room
Staying in one place for long periods may result in behavior problems in the dementia patient. It is essential to have a safe environment where they can enjoy the outdoors without any problem. When someone tries to leave a room, do not force them to stop. Doing this may result in an extreme reaction such as severe distress or injuries.
Instead, it is best to accompany the patient so that they are safe. You can even suggest going for a drive around the block so that they can experience a new environment for a short period. If they do not want company, just let them go but stay close by to make sure that the patient is safe at all times.
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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.
Dont Infantilize The Person
Dont talk down to the person or treat them like an infant. This is sometimes called “elderspeak” and it’s got to go.
Have you ever observed how people talk to babies? They might use a high pitched tone and get close to the babys face. While this is appropriate for infants, its not fitting for communicating with adults. Regardless of how much the person with dementia can or cannot understand, treat them with honor and use a respectful tone of voice.
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Alzheimers Disease Symptoms And Treatmenthow Palliative Care Can Help
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people facing serious illnesses like Alzheimers Disease. The goal is to improve quality of life for both you and your family. You can have palliative care at any age and at any stage of your illness. You can also have it together with curative treatment.
Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of palliative care doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists who work together with your other doctors to provide you with an extra layer of support.
Involving a palliative care team can be useful in several ways. Palliative care helps treat some of the symptoms of Alzheimers Disease, such as depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. The team can also teach you and your family about what might trigger some of the behavior symptoms and how to avoid them.
One of the main techniques used in planning your daily care is maintaining a routine. Others include physical exercise and memory therapy, which help you use your brain. A calm and quiet environment, proper lighting to decrease shadows and good sleep habits can help as well.
If you have other medical problems such as heart disease, lung disease or conditions that are painful, palliative care can ease the symptoms, including pain and stress, that these might cause.
Do Try To Be Forgiving And Patient
Do not forget that dementia is the condition that results in irrational behavior and causes dementia sufferers to act the way they do. The patients demand plenty of patience and forgiveness from the people looking after them. Have the heart to let things go instead of carrying grudges around for something that the patient may not be in control of.
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Do Antidepressants Work In Dementia
Among older adults living with depression, those with cognitive impairment differ from those without cognitive impairment. Although data on antidepressant use in dementia is ambiguous, much of the current research suggests that antidepressants dont work well in people with dementia . This could be the result of changes to the brain that occur in dementia. Although many doctors prescribe antidepressants as a first-line treatment, guidelines do not suggest the routine treatment of depression and anxiety with antidepressants in people living with dementia. Even the best-tolerated antidepressants in older adults carry serious risks of falls, fractures, and drug interactions.
Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
- Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
- Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
- Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
- Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
- Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
- Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?
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Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
- Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
- Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
- Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
- Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
- Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
- Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
- Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
- Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.
How To Communicate With A Person With Dementia
Even when a person might not understand everything you are saying, they still have feelings. It’s important to help them retain their dignity and self-esteem.
Follow these tips from Dementia Australia:
- Remain calm and talk in a gentle, matter-of-fact way.
- Keep sentences short and simple, focusing on one idea at a time.
- Always allow plenty of time for what you have said to be understood, and for the person to give a response.
- It can be helpful to use orienting names and terms whenever you can, such as ‘Your son, Jack’.
- Where appropriate, touching and holding their hand may help keep their attention while also showing you care.
- You may need to use hand gestures and facial expressions to make yourself understood. Pointing or demonstrating can help, as can a warm smile.
- Try to avoid competing noises such as TV or radio.
- Staying still in the person’s line of vision while talking will make you easier to follow.
What not to do:
- Don’t argue. It will only make the situation worse.
- Don’t order the person around.
- Don’t tell them what they can’t do. Instead state what they can do.
- Don’t be condescending or talk down to someone. A condescending tone of voice can be picked up, even if the words are not understood.
- Don’t ask a lot of direct questions that rely on a good memory.
- Don’t talk about people in front of them as if they are not there.
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