Falling More Frequently Than You Used To
Constantly tripping over your own two feet? Everyone falls now and again but frequent falling could be an early signal of Alzheimers disease, according to research. A;study published in;July;2013 in the journal;Neurology;found that presumptive preclinical Alzheimers disease is a risk factor for falls in older adults. People will come into our office concerned because they forgot what was on their grocery list last week, but when their spouse says theyve fallen four times in the past year, thats a sign of a problem, says Rankin. Frequent falls may also be a symptom of other brain disorders, including progressive supranuclear palsy.
Behavioral And Mood Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia
Changes in behavior and mood are possible in LBD and may worsen as the persons thinking abilities decline. These changes may include:
- Apathy, or a lack of interest in normal daily activities or events and less social interaction
- Anxiety and related behaviors, such as asking the same questions over and over or being angry or fearful when a loved one is not present
- Agitation, or restlessness, and related behaviors, such as pacing, hand wringing, an inability to get settled, constant repeating of words or phrases, or irritability
- Delusions, or strongly held false beliefs or opinions not based on evidence. For example, a person may think his or her spouse is having an affair or that relatives long dead are still living.
- Paranoia, or an extreme, irrational distrust of others, such as suspicion that people are taking or hiding things
Similar Symptoms Different Timing
Study volunteers took a series of standardized tests that measured any decline in thinking, memory, behavior, and functional skills. Researcher noticed changes in both groups those who did and did not end up with dementia.
We were somewhat surprised that the order of symptom occurrence was the same for people who did and did not develop Alzheimers disease, Roe said.
Symptoms occurred in three phases. Irritability, depression, and nighttime behavior changes developed first. This was followed by anxiety, appetite changes, agitation, and apathy. Finally, elation, mobility disorders, hallucinations , delusions, and impulsive, inappropriate behavior were reported.
People who were diagnosed with dementia developed these symptoms sooner. The results suggest that a series of non-cognitive changes begins before memory symptoms appear in Alzheimers disease.
While Roe is encouraged by the study results, she said its still unclear whether depression and other non-cognitive symptoms are a response to whats going on in the brain as Alzheimers develops, or if theyre caused by the same underlying changes.
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What Are The Causes Of Lewy Body Dementia
The precise cause of LBD is unknown, but scientists are learning more about its biology and genetics. For example, we know that an accumulation of Lewy bodies is associated with a loss of certain neurons in the brain that produce two important chemicals that act as messengers between brain cells . One of these messengers, acetylcholine, is important for memory and learning. The other, dopamine, plays an important role in behavior, cognition, movement, motivation, sleep, and mood.
Scientists are also learning about risk factors for LBD. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Some risk factors can be controlled while others cannot. Age is considered the greatest risk factor. No specific lifestyle factor has been proven to increase one’s risk for LBD.
Other known risk factors for LBD include certain diseases and health conditions, particularly Parkinson’s disease and REM sleep behavior disorder, which have been linked to a higher risk of LBD.
Having a family member with LBD also may increase a person’s risk, though LBD is not considered a genetic disease. Variants in three genes APOE, SNCA, and GBA have been associated with an increased risk, but in most cases, the cause is unknown.
Difficulty In Calculating Numbers And Handling Money Or Balancing The Cheque Book
This is different to: common age-related issues such as missing a couple of debt repayments due to low income, making occasional errors with number calculations.
Consistent financial problems and money struggles are high on the early signs of dementia checklist. These dementia symptoms include changes in an ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. ;This could include:
- Spending money more frivolously than usual
- Having difficult following a recipe with measurements
- Being uncharacteristically generous with money
- Struggling to keep track of monthly bills
If youre concerned about your parents ability to handle their finances, read our guide on protecting their legal and financial situation.
Common Changes In Behaviour
In the middle to later stages of most types of dementia, a person may start to behave differently. This can be distressing for both the person with dementia and those who care for them.
Some common changes in behaviour include:
- repeating the same question or activity over and over again
- restlessness, like pacing up and down, wandering and fidgeting
- night-time waking and sleep disturbance
- following a partner or spouse around everywhere
- loss of self-confidence, which may show as apathy or disinterest in their usual activities
If you’re caring for someone who’s showing these behaviours, it’s important to try to understand why they’re behaving like this, which is not always easy.
You may find it reassuring to remember that these behaviours may be how someone is communicating their feelings. It may help to look at different ways of communicating with someone with dementia.
Sometimes these behaviours are not a dementia symptom. They can be a result of frustration with not being understood or with their environment, which they no longer find familiar but confusing.
What To Do If You Think They Might Hurt Someone
Here are some things you can do to help keep everyone safe:
- Keep dangerous things like guns, knives, glass, and sharp or heavy objects out of the house or locked away.
- Try to distract them by going for a walk, having a snack, playing music they like, or asking them to help you with something.
- If you canât calm them, give them space.
- Don’t hold the person back, unless you must to keep everyone safe. Holding them back could hurt you or them, and could make them angrier.
- If you must hold them back, get help from someone else, if possible. Ask someone nearby, like a neighbor, to be ready to help if needed.
Once your loved one is calm, check for bruises or cuts, and treat them if needed.
If this happens often, itâs a good idea to ask a doctor or counselor for guidance or tips, or get support from others. Your local Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer’s Association chapter for caregiver groups might be able to help.
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Tips For Common Behavior And Mood Changes
Aggressive & Threatening Behavior
Sometimes things can get out of control and feel very scary. These are tips and strategies for dealing with especially challenging behaviors. If you think that you or others may be in immediate danger, call 911.
The person with dementia is threatening you or acting physically violent, such as hitting, pushing, or kicking you
- Give the person space and time to calm down.
- Stay out of arms reach and position yourself near the exit.
- Avoid small spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and cars.
- Remove or secure objects that could be used as weapons.
- Reduce background noise .
- Keep a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
- Go outside, to a neighbors house, or public place if needed to stay safe.
- Take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
- Empathize/apologize: I am sorry this is so frustrating.
- Offer reassurance: I know this is difficult. It is going to be okay, or I am here to help.
- Give yourself a break; take time to care for your own needs.
- Get help .
- Tell the dispatcher your name and location and that your family member has dementia. Tell the dispatcher if a weapon is involved.
The person with dementia is angry and accusing you of something that is not true, such as stealing from or cheating on them
The person with dementia is throwing fits or having emotional outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, or banging on things
Anxiety Related to Dementia
How To Prevent Dementia And Angerits All About Body Language
And finally, because of all this, we need to become very aware of our nonverbal communications. In my article on mean dementia I explained that reading nonverbal communication is one of our intuitive thinking skills, and so it is something not lost to dementia. We begin learning to read our companions expressions, body language, and intonation at an incredibly young agewithin hours of birth. And we keep those skills in;dementia.
Dementia will take away our ability to understand language and eventually the meaning of even the first words we learned as toddlers, but people who are experiencing dementia remain very aware of their companions expressions, body language, and intonation. And without memory skills to distract them with memories of the past, or rational thinking skills to distract them with plans or anticipation of the future, people who are experiencing dementia are entirely presentfully alive in the moment and to whats happening around;them.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia ;Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Do Not Initiate Contact
This tip goes hand-in-hand with allowing the person space and remaining calm. For some, physical contact can be relaxing and reassuring. However, in periods where the person is angry, confused, and aggressive, contact can lead to physical aggression that will escalate the situation.
You should never react to violence with force as this can send the situation spiraling out of control, possibly leading to bodily harm for yourself or them. Unless your safety or the safety of somebody else is threatened, avoid physical force and contact at all costs.
At Iora, comprehensive care and treatment are priorities. When patients walk into our practice, our dedicated and passionate care teams work to treat the whole patient. Our care model seeks to empower our patients through extensive physical and behavioral care, putting the power of the patients health back in their hands.
Of course, we understand the hardships that come with caretaking can be quite stressful. However, we have several resources to help you be the best caregiver you can be.
Now that you understand more about the causes of dementia and anger, and how to talk to someone with dementia, check out the five main reasons for caregiver burnout.
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Losing Rational Thinking Skills Means Losing The Ability To Manage Moods
Once we understand the skills lost and kept in dementia, we need to think about how those changes affect our feelings and moods. You may not have considered this before, but if you have both memory skills and rational thinking skills, you are fully equipped to escape any emotion that circumstance might bring your;way.
Imagine, for example, that you and a friend have been playing phone tag for quite some time and you are finally on the phone talking, yet she seems preoccupied and uninterested in what youre saying. If youre like me, you might feel a blend of irritation and hurt. I would feel irritation because we finally have a chance to catch up yet she doesnt seem interested in talking, and hurt because shes someone I expect to care about my feelings and to want to listen to me. Now what do I;do?
Now, because I dont have dementia, I have the skills needed to change my feelings before they settle into a negative mood. I have both rational thinking skills and memory skills at my disposal. I can use memory skills to remind myself that we havent talked in quite a while so I dont know whats been going on in her life. I can use rational thinking skills to consider whether she might be dealing with something far more concerning than I am. I can use both memory and rational thinking skills to put my story on hold and ask her about herself. I dont have to feel irritated or hurt because I can think about why she might be acting the way she;is.
Mood Transferenceour Mood Becomes Their Mood
Think about this: If someone experiencing dementia cannot change their own moods, what happens when a caregiver arrives looking worried or concerned, or someone walks into the room in a bad mood? What happens is mood transference, because we need memory and rational thinking skills to protect ourselves from other peoples moodsand without those skills we can only absorb their moods and feel bad;too.
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The Rules In Relationships Change With Dementia
If youre spending time with someone whos experiencing dementia, you can avoid the dementia anger stage , but only if you become more aware of whats causing it. When dementia comes into a relationship, the rules change. A relationship including dementia is different from any youve experienced before. You will need to understand the cognitive skills we all normally useand then which ones we continue using when were experiencing;dementia.
In my first article in this series , I described our two thinking systems and explained the most frustrating rational thinking losses caused by dementia. I also described our intuitive thinking skillsthose that we continue using. It will be helpful to read that article first if you havent;yet.
Cognitive Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia
LBD causes changes in thinking abilities. These changes may include:
- Visual hallucinations, or seeing things that are not present. Visual hallucinations occur in up to 80 percent of people with LBD, often early on. Nonvisual hallucinations, such as hearing or smelling things that are not present, are less common than visual ones but may also occur.
- Unpredictable changes in concentration, attention, alertness, and wakefulness from day to day and sometimes throughout the day. Ideas may be disorganized, unclear, or illogical. These kinds of changes are common in LBD and may help distinguish it from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Severe loss of thinking abilities that interfere with daily activities. Unlike in Alzheimer’s dementia, memory problems may not be evident at first but often arise as LBD progresses. Other changes related to thinking may include poor judgment, confusion about time and place, and difficulty with language and numbers.
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Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey
In a new episode of the Age Space Podcast, we talk to Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster, sharing his thoughts and advice on dementia. This includes identifying the early signs of dementia, details of memory services, supporting those with dementia to live well, psychological therapies, supporting carers and much more. Listen to the dementia explained podcast.
What to read next…
Following A Partner Or Carer Around
Dementia makes people feel insecure and anxious. They may “shadow” their partner or carer as they need constant reassurance they’re not alone and they’re safe.
They may also ask for people who died many years ago, or ask to go home without realising they’re in their own home.
- have the person with you if you’re doing chores such as ironing or cooking
- reassure them that they’re safe and secure if they’re asking to go home
- avoid telling them someone died years ago and talk to them about that period in their life instead
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Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia Symptoms
My dad seems to be tired all the time lately how do I know the difference between age-related changes and dementia symptoms?
Sleep disruption is common with regards to both age-related sleep patterns and signs of early onset dementia so it can be tricky to work out whats going on. But if you look out for accompanying symptoms specific to dementia you may be able to tell the difference. If you suspect it is more than just sleepiness make an appointment with your parents GP.For more information on how dementia symptoms can affect sleep please read our article on dementia and sleep.
What do I do if I think my mum or dad has dementia?
The GP should be the first point of call if you suspect your parent is suffering from signs of early onset dementia. ;If the doctor suspects your parent has dementia they will refer them to a memory clinic or specialist. For further details on the process please visit our guide on diagnosing dementia.
How does the dementia diagnosis process work?How are dementia symptoms treated?
Unfortunately, dementia cant be cured but it can be slowed down significantly, especially if diagnosed earlier on. For more details on drugs used, visit our guide on dementia treatment.
Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
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Rapid And Unexplained Mood Swings And/or Depression
This is different to: more typical age-related behaviours such as becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
Mood and personality changes can be associated with early signs of dementia. This could include becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious, and your parent may find themselves getting easily upset in places they feel unsure about.;;Some of the dementia symptoms NHS lists include:
- Increased anxiety
- Violent mood swings
For example, your parent may appear calm, then visibly upset, and then very angry in a matter of minutes. ;This is a significant sign of dementia anger and frustration specifically if its unprovoked.
Other physical signs include pacing, obsessing over minor details, agitation, fear, confusion, rage and feeling overwhelmed because theyre trying to make sense of a world thats now confusing to them.