Prepare Yourself For The Journey Ahead
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may be able to keep their independence and live alone with your help. However, due to their cognitive and physical decline, they will eventually require round-the-clock assistance.
Making planning for their future home and care now can lessen future stress, allow your loved one to participate in decision-making, and ensure that their legal, financial, and healthcare requests are honored.
Caring for loved ones suffering from dementia often receive treatment that are similar to Alzheimers. Treatment for dementia is determined on the specific cause and kind of dementia, but many dementia and Alzheimer’s therapies overlap. They are primarily focused on treating symptoms and preventing dementia from worsening.
Some dementia and Alzheimer’s therapies are similar, some of which include:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors can aid memory loss in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
- In both dementia and Alzheimer’s, glutamate inhibitors aid learning and memory.
- Sleep medicines may assist with sleep disruptions.
- Antidepressants can help with the symptoms of depression.
- Antipsychotic drugs may aid in behavior modification.
Talk to a healthcare practitioner if you or a loved one is having memory problems, trouble doing familiar tasks, or mood or personality changes. Acknowledging the symptoms of dementia or Alzheimers is the first step to finding treatment and proper care for the long run.
Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia
When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:
- Delusional behavior
Are There Medicines To Treat Ad
Though there is no cure for AD yet, there are medications that help manage the symptoms. There are two general types of medications used to treat AD, the cholinesterase inhibitors and one NMDA receptor antagonist . These medications can help improve cognition, but they do not reverse or slow down the disease process in the brain. Often times, people with AD can have mood changes, such as depression or irritability. These can be managed by medications like the ones used for depression or anxiety.
Being Confused About Time Or Place
Dementia can make it hard to judge the passing of time. People may also forget where they are at any time.
They may find it hard to understand events in the future or the past and may struggle with dates.
Visual information can be challenging for a person with dementia. It can be hard to read, to judge distances, or work out the differences between colors.
Someone who usually drives or cycles may start to find these activities challenging.
A person with dementia may find it hard to engage in conversations.
They may forget what they are saying or what somebody else has said. It can be difficult to enter a conversation.
People may also find their spelling, punctuation, and grammar get worse.
Some peoples handwriting becomes more difficult to read.
A person with dementia may not be able to remember where they leave everyday objects, such as a remote control, important documents, cash, or their keys.
Misplacing possessions can be frustrating and may mean they accuse other people of stealing.
It can be hard for someone with dementia to understand what is fair and reasonable. This may mean they pay too much for things, or become easily sure about buying things they do not need.
Some people with dementia also pay less attention to keeping themselves clean and presentable.
Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia
Neither Alzheimerâs nor most other types of dementia have a cure. Doctors focus treatments on managing symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.
Some of the treatments for dementia and Alzheimerâs overlap.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors can help with memory loss in certain types of dementia and Alzheimerâs.
- Glutamate inhibitors help with learning and memory in both dementia and Alzheimerâs.
- Sleep medications may help with sleep changes.
- Antidepressants can help with depression symptoms.
- Antipsychotic medications may help with behavior changes.
Some types of dementia respond to treatment, depending on what is causing it. Your doctor may recommend:
- Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol
- Tumor removal
Alzheimerâs Association: âCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,â âFrontotemporal Dementia,â âTypes of Dementia,â âWhat is Alzheimerâs?â
Alzheimerâs Disease International: âWorld Alzheimerâs Report 2015.â
Alzheimerâs Society: âSight, perception and hallucinations in dementia.â
BrightFocus Foundation: âWhatâs the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimerâs Disease?â âTreatments for Alzheimerâs Disease.â
Dementia Society of America: âDementia FAQs.â
Fisher Center for Alzheimerâs Research Foundation: âDementia vs. Alzheimerâs.â
Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio: âAlzheimerâs Versus Dementia.â
Mayo Clinic: âAlzheimerâs Disease,â âDementia.â
Cleveland Clinic: âDementia.â
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The Basics Of Alzheimers Disease
Scientists are conducting studies to learn more about plaques, tangles, and other biological features of Alzheimers disease. Advances in brain imaging techniques allow researchers to see the development and spread of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins in the living brain, as well as changes in brain structure and function. Scientists are also exploring the very earliest steps in the disease process by studying changes in the brain and body fluids that can be detected years before Alzheimers symptoms appear. Findings from these studies will help in understanding the causes of Alzheimers and make diagnosis easier.
One of the great mysteries of Alzheimers disease is why it largely affects older adults. Research on normal brain aging is exploring this question. For example, scientists are learning how age-related changes in the brain may harm neurons and affect other types of brain cells to contribute to Alzheimers damage. These age-related changes include atrophy of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, blood vessel damage, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction .
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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What Are The Normal Signs Of Ageing
As people get older, they are likely to notice some changes in their mental abilities. These could include:
- becoming a little more forgetful
- taking a bit longer to remember things
- getting distracted more easily
- finding it harder to do several things at once.
This may become noticeable particularly from middle age usually meaning our 40s, 50s and early 60s.
Though these changes can be frustrating, they are a natural part of ageing. Many people worry that these are early signs of dementia. For most people, this is not the case.
What Do We Mean By Stages Of Dementia
There are many different types of dementia and all of them are progressive. This means symptoms may be relatively mild at first but they get worse with time, usually over several years. These include problems with memory, thinking, problem-solving or language, and often changes in emotions, perception or behaviour.
As dementia progresses, a person will need more help and, at some point, will need a lot of support with daily living. However, dementia is different for everyone, so it will vary how soon this happens and the type of support needed.
It can be helpful to think of there being three stages of dementia:
These are sometimes called mild, moderate and severe, because this describes how much the symptoms affect a person.
These stages can be used to understand how dementia is likely to change over time, and to help people prepare for the future. The stages also act as a guide to when certain treatments, such as medicines for Alzheimers disease, are likely to work best.
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Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease
In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Increased sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Doctors use several methods and tools to help determine whether a person who is having memory problems has Alzheimers disease.
To diagnose Alzheimers, doctors may:
- Ask the person and a family member or friend questions about overall health, use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and changes in behavior and personality.
- Conduct tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language.
- Carry out standard medical tests, such as blood and urine tests, to identify other possible causes of the problem.
- Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , or positron emission tomography , to support an Alzheimers diagnosis or to rule out other possible causes for symptoms.
These tests may be repeated to give doctors information about how the persons memory and other cognitive functions are changing over time.
People with memory and thinking concerns should talk to their doctor to find out whether their symptoms are due to Alzheimers or another cause, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinsons disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, or another type of dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.
In addition, an early diagnosis provides people with more opportunities to participate in clinical trials or other research studies testing possible new treatments for Alzheimers.
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Diagnostic Criteria Assessments And Interventions
As indicated earlier, AD has no particular cure. Therefore, its diagnosis has largely been pegged to DSM-IV that calls for subjection of a patient to one month assessment and depiction of at least two symptoms, checking family history and running clinical trials. While this is not very effective, Laforest et al. note that diagnosis of AD can only be done after the death of an individual to examine brain tissue. When done earlier, it may aid in determining the causes and possible treatments. Even so, while there is no cure to the irreversible brain damage of AD, an early determination may help in making arrangement regarding finances, living arrangement, hiring caregivers and legal matters.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. It was first recorded in 1907 by Dr Alois Alzheimer. Dr Alzheimer reported the case of Auguste Deter, a middle-aged woman with dementia and specific changes in her brain. For the next 60 years Alzheimers disease was considered a rare condition that affected people under the age of 65. It was not until the 1970s that Dr Robert Katzman declared that “senile dementia” and Alzheimers disease were the same condition and that neither were a normal part of aging.
Alzheimers disease can be either sporadic or familial.
Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease can affect adults at any age, but usually occurs after age 65 and is the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Familial Alzheimers disease is a very rare genetic condition, caused by a mutation in one of several genes. The presence of mutated genes means that the person will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease, usually in their 40’s or 50’s.
The Healthy Human Brain
Behind the ears and temples are the temporal lobes of the brain. These regions process speech and working memory, and also higher emotions such as empathy, morality and regret. Beneath the forebrain are the more primitive brain regions such as the limbic system. The limbic system is a structure that is common to all mammals and processes our desires and many emotions. Also in the limbic system is the hippocampus a region that is vital for forming new memories.
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What Are The Types Of Dementia
Dementias are often broken down into two main categories — Alzheimer type or non-Alzheimer type. Dementias of the Alzheimers disease type are defined by the symptoms of memory loss plus impairment in other brain functions, such as language function inability to move the muscles associated with speech or perception, visual or other inabilities to recognize speech or name objects .
Non-Alzheimer dementias include the frontotemporal lobar degenerations, which are further broken down into two main types. One type primarily affects speech. An example is primary progressive aphasia syndromes. The other type is defined by changes in behavior, including lack of feeling, emotion, interest or concern loss of a social filter personality change and loss of executive functions . In both of these frontotemporal lobe dementias, memory loss is relatively mild until later in the course of the disease.
Other non-Alzheimers disease dementias include vascular disorders , dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s dementia, and normal pressure hydrocephalus.
Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:
- memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
- increasing confusion
- apathy and withdrawal or depression
- loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.
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How To Tell The Difference Between Normal Age
It can be difficult to tell the difference between normal, age-related cognitive changes and dementia. But there are a few things to keep in mind.
It can be helpful to consider if the change represents something new or unusual for someone. For instance, a person has always had a difficult time planning a trip or balancing their checkbook, those habits getting worse with age wouldnt be considered a warning sign. But if they went from being good at managing their finances to forgetting how, this would be more concerning.
Another thing to consider is the impact that the change has on day-to-day life. Someone occasionally forgetting to close the garage door or the name of a distant friend isnt too worrisome. But if a person continues to forget names, dates, or events that should be easy to remember, this could be a warning sign. This is especially true if it causes them to get lost frequently, be unable to complete tasks, need frequent reminders, or rely on notes or alarms in a way they never have before.
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.
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Is There Treatment Available
At present there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, one group of drugs called cholinergeric drugs appears to be providing some temporary improvement in cognitive functioning for some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Drugs can also be prescribed for secondary symptoms such as restlessness or depression or to help the person with dementia sleep better.
Community support is available for the person with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and carers. This support can make a positive difference to managing dementia. Dementia Australia provides support, information and counselling for people affected by dementia. Dementia Australia also aims to provide up-to-date information about drug treatments.
For more information contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
For a range of books and videos contact our Library.
For advice, common sense approaches and practical strategies on the issues most commonly raised about dementia, read our Help Sheets.
Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimers. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimers disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.
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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.