Coping With A Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with dementia is a life-changing experiencefor both you and your loved ones. It can turn your world upside down and leave you grappling with a host of conflicting emotions, from shock, anger, and grief to profound sadness and isolation.
While there is currently no cure for dementia, a diagnosis doesnt mean that your life is over. There are treatments available for the symptoms. There are also steps you can take to help slow the progression of the disease and delay the onset of more debilitating symptoms, enabling you to prolong your independence and live a rich and full life for longer.
Oxidative Stress And Damage
Oxidative damage occurs in AD. Studies have demonstrated that an increase in oxidative damage selectively occurs within the brain regions involved in regulating cognitive performance.
Oxidative damage potentially serves as an early event that then initiates the development of cognitive disturbances and pathological features observed in AD. A decline in protein synthesis capabilities occurs in the same brain regions that exhibit increased levels of oxidative damage in patients with mild cognitive impairment and AD. Protein synthesis may be one of the earliest cellular processes disrupted by oxidative damage in AD.
Oxidative stress is believed to be a critical factor in normal aging and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and AD. Formation of free carbonyls and thiobarbituric acid-reactive products, an index of oxidative damage, are significantly increased in AD brain tissue compared with age-matched controls. Plaques and tangles display immunoreactivity to antioxidant enzymes.
Multiple mechanisms exist by which cellular alterations may be induced by oxidative stress, including production of reactive oxygen species in the cell membrane . This in turn impairs the various membrane proteins involved in ion homeostasis such as N -methyl-D-aspartate receptor channels or ion-motive adenosine triphosphatases.
What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia
- Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
- Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
- Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.
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Dementia: What Are The Main Types
While ageing, the brain encounters significant modifications. For example, from the age of 60, it slowly starts to shrink. Heart diseases and head traumas can also have an important effect on the brain, sometimes causing dementia. A persons family history also influences the occurrence of this kind of syndrome.
Dementia is a significant sign of progressive neurodegeneration. This causes the death of some brain cells as well as tissue loss. The most frequently affected areas are the memory, the thinking, the behaviour and the ability to do some tasks for the sick person.
Continue below to learn what are the five different types of dementia.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Watch this video play circle solid iconMemory Loss is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.
In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .
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Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging
No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:
- Occasionally misplacing car keys
- Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
- Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
- Forgetting the most recent events
Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.
Amyloid Hypothesis Versus Tau Hypothesis
A central but controversial issue in the pathogenesis of AD is the relationship between amyloid deposition and NFT formation. Evidence shows that abnormal amyloid metabolism plays a key pathogenic role. At high concentrations, the fibrillar form of Ab has been shown to be neurotoxic to cultured neurons.
Cultured cortical and hippocampal neurons treated with Ab protein exhibit changes characteristic of apoptosis , including nuclear chromatin condensation, plasma membrane blebbing, and internucleosomal DNA fragmentation. The fibrillar form of Ab has also been shown to alter the phosphorylation state of tau protein.
The identification of several point mutations within the APP gene in some patients with early-onset familial AD and the development of transgenic mice exhibiting cognitive changes and SPs also incriminate Ab in AD. The apolipoprotein E E4 allele, which has been linked with significantly increased risk for developing AD, may promote inability to suppress production of amyloid, increased production of amyloid, or impaired clearance of amyloid with collection outside of the neuron.
Autopsies have shown that patients with 1 or 2 copies of the APOE E4 allele tend to have more amyloid. Additional evidence comes from recent experimental data supporting the role of presenilins in Ab metabolism, as well as findings of abnormal production of Ab protein in presenilin-mutation familial Alzheimer disease.
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Alzheimers Vs Dementia Symptoms
Although the symptoms of Alzheimers disease and dementia are similar, there are major variances. Both disorders have the potential to cause:
- Deterioration in ones ability to think
- Memory loss is a problem.
- difficulty in communication
Alzheimers disease symptoms include:
- Recent experiences or conversations are difficult to recall.
- Apathy, sadness, and poor judgement are all symptoms of apathy.
- In the later stages of the disease, you may have trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking.
Ps1 And Ps2 Mutations
Approximately 50-70% of early-onset autosomal-dominant AD cases appear to be associated with a locus mapped by genetic linkage to the long arm of chromosome 14 . Numerous missense mutations have been identified on a strong candidate gene, called PS1.
At the same time, another autosomal dominant locus responsible for early-onset AD was localized to chromosome 1. Two mutations were identified on the candidate gene, designated PS2. The physiological role of presenilins and the pathogenic effects of their mutations are not yet well understood.
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What Are Some Complications Of Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is an irreversible form of dementia. The rate of progression differs between people: some people have it only in the last 5 years of their life, while others may have it for as long as 20 years. Alzheimers disease eventually leads to complete dependence and increasing frailty. This means a secondary illness, such as pneumonia, may eventually cause death.
Other complications of Alzheimers disease may include:
- an inability to complete daily tasks such as planning meals and managing money
- a tendency to wander from home
- personality changes such as anxiety, depression and irritability that make relationships more difficult
- delusions and hallucinations in advanced stages of the disease
There Are Five Different Types Of Dementia
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How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Progress
The rate of progression of the disease varies from person to person.
However, the disease does lead eventually to complete dependence and finally death, usually from another illness such as pneumonia. A person may live from three to twenty years with Alzheimer’s disease, with the average being seven to ten years.
Alzheimers And Dementia Arent The Same Thing
Many people use the words Alzheimers and dementia interchangeably, but its important to know that theyre not the same thing. Dementia is a syndrome, which is a group of symptoms that relate to a specific disorder or disease. Its not a disease in itself. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases like Alzheimers, mini strokes, or traumatic brain injury.
Alzheimers disease is a form of dementia. Its the most common type and accounts for 60 80% of all dementia cases. However, not all dementia is caused by Alzheimers. Aside from Alzheimers, there are 8 major types of dementia. Learning about the difference between Alzheimers and dementia is important because it helps you make more informed care decisions and find effective ways to manage symptoms.
We explain what dementia is, what Alzheimers disease is, and the differences between symptoms for Alzheimers vs. dementia.
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Caring For Someone With Alzheimers Disease
Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease can be hard but also rewarding. Your emotional and physical support will be a great help when the person’s world seems confusing and hostile. Take advantage of the community support thats available for people with Alzheimers disease, their families and carers.
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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Frontotemporal Dementia With Parkinsonism
One form of familial FTD, also known as frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism-17 , is caused by genetic changes in the gene for tau protein, located on chromosome 17. No other risk factors for this condition are known.
FTDP-17 is rare and accounts for only three per cent of all cases of dementia. Symptoms progressively get worse over time and usually appear between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition affects both thinking and behavioural skills and movements such as rigidity, lack of facial expression and problems with balance .
It can be distressing to be told that you have a genetic disorder or are at risk of having one. Genetic counselling provides the person and their family with information about a genetic disorder and its likely impact on their lives. This can assist a person with FTDP-17 to make informed medical and personal decisions about how to manage their condition and the challenges it presents to their health and wellbeing. Prenatal genetic counselling is also available for parents to help them decide about a pregnancy that may be at risk of FTDP-17.
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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The Downside Of Virtual Meetings
Srodawa said the events help those suffering with dementia to understand that their lives still matter and can be rewarding. Meeting in-person better helps accomplish that goal and helps people feel more comfortable.
Its a place where you dont have to worry about forgetting someones name, she said. We dont worry about making a mistake. Everyone understands. We leave the disease outside the door.
The Franklin Senior Center hosted its first in-person memory cafe for the first time this month since the pandemic started, said Respite Coordinator Ariel Doggett.
The Franklin Senior Center memory cafe focuses on creating activities involving music.
I find that what really engages people is music, she said. Music is something that people retain in their brains and it can trigger very positive memories.
The latest event featured musical stylings from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.
It is a safe and welcoming environment where people can come with their loved ones, she said. Theres no stigma attached.
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.
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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 .
Managing Alzheimer’s Disease Behavior
Common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Scientists are learning why these symptoms occur and are studying new treatments drug and nondrug to manage them. Research has shown that treating behavioral symptoms can make people with Alzheimers more comfortable and makes things easier for caregivers.
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Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.