Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
What A Doctor May Check And Ask
Most people with suspected dementia will go to a doctors surgery to see their GP. Some doctors, however, will prefer to make a home visit to observe and assess someones behaviour in their own environment. A GP will check a persons blood pressure, temperature and pulse, listen to their heart and lungs and collect blood and urine samples for further tests to be carried out. The doctor will ask what potential signs of dementia have been noticed and when they began, how often they occur and whether they are getting worse.
The GP may ask a series of questions designed to test the persons memory and reasoning skills. The doctor is also likely to carry out a detailed review of any medication taken and ask about personal and family medical history, diet, smoking, intake of alcohol and exercise. The doctor will welcome notes perhaps kept by the patient, a partner, close family member or a care worker that outline when any symptoms or changes first happened. The GP may feel able to make a diagnosis at the conclusion of the assessment or may refer the person to a memory clinic or specialist.
Cultural diversity is an important consideration in the assessment process. Dementia assessments need to be culturally appropriate and recognise the impact of culture on individual behaviour. An interpreter may be vital for a proper assessment.
What Is The Treatment For Symptoms And Complications Of Dementia
Some symptoms and complications of dementia can be relieved by medical treatment, even if no treatment exists for the underlying cause of the dementia.
- Behavioral disorders may improve with individualized therapy aimed at identifying and changing specific problem behaviors.
- Mood swings and emotional outbursts may be treated with mood-stabilizing drugs.
- Agitation and psychosis may be treated with antipsychotic medication or, in some cases, anticonvulsants.
- Seizures usually require anticonvulsant medication.
- Sleeplessness can be treated by changing certain habits and, in some cases, by taking medication.
- Bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics.
- Dehydration and malnutrition may be treated with rehydration and supplements or with behavioral therapies.
- Aspiration, pressure sores, and injuries can be prevented with appropriate care.
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Misdiagnosis And Second Opinions
One of the common reactions to a difficult situation is denial. It’s not unusual to say, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Or, “I don’t think this is correct. It’s got to be something else.” While this questioning may be a part of the grieving process of this diagnosis, it could also have its merits.
It’s not a bad idea to get a second opinion. Occasionally, there have been misdiagnoses of dementia, when in truth the mental challenges were caused by something else that could be treated and at least partially reversed.
There are many possible causes of forgetfulness, and some of them are due to conditions such as stress, fatigue, or depression. Properly addressing them can result in significant improvements in cognitive functioning.
If a second opinion provides you with some peace of mind, it may be well worth it, even if it doesn’t change the diagnosis.
Who Is The Most At Risk Of Developing Dementia
When it comes to dementia there are some risks that we can and cant control.
Factors that we cant control that increase our risk of developing dementia are age , genetics and sex women have a greater chance of developing dementia than men.
The good news is that there are things we can control that can help minimize our risk of developing dementia. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet are both recommended. Making sure youre physically active everyday is important and Frank insists exercising your brain is equally as crucial through hobbies and puzzles.
Eliminating smoking and excessive alcohol consumption while adhering to a wholesome diet like the Mediterranean diet can help keep your body and mind in shape.
Another strategy is to watch out for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and to treat those because any factors that prevent heart attack and stroke will also prevent or delay dementia, Franks says.
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A Condition That Can Fool Even Experienced Doctors
In fact, Mrs. M was suffering from delirium, at that time called acute organic brain syndrome that results in rapidly changing mental states, and causes confusion and changes in behavior. She returned to her previous healthy cognitive status very quickly after her eye patches were removed and her post-operative recovery continued.
The lesson I learned from her recovery was that delirium can fool even experienced doctors into misdiagnosing dementia, which is now called Major Neurocognitive Disorder . Confustion, disorientation, and memory impairment are signs of delirium that are shared with MaND.
Delirium looks very different, though, in other ways. It comes on rapidly, often after a medical or surgical event or toxic combination of medications. It is accompanied by shifting alertness, resulting in moments of sleepiness alternating with moments of agitation. Delirium is more often associated with visual hallucinations or psychotic delusions than MaND. And, most importantly, delirium can often be reversed once the cause is found and treated.
Its causes are many and include infection, metabolic disturbances, toxic medication reactions, withdrawal from alcohol, and the effects of head injury, just to name a few.
What makes this especially tragic is that distinguishing delirium from MaND is usually not too difficult and just requires careful attention to history, symptoms, physical and mental status examinations, and the results of common laboratory tests.
As A Care Worker How Can You Help
There are many conditions and circumstances where you may see signs and symptoms that may be confused with dementia. As a care worker, it is not your responsibility to try to diagnose the condition. However, as you may be the one person who sees the individual on a regular basis, you are well placed to notice any changes. Encouraging an older person to visit their GP on a regular basis can help them to maintain their general health and wellbeing.
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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.
The Future Of Ftd Treatment
Researchers are continuing to explore the biological changes in the body, including genetic mutations and proteins, that lead to FTD and identify and test possible new drugs and other treatments. They are also developing better ways to track disease progression, so that treatments, when they become available, can be directed to the right people. Clinical trials and studies are underway to advance these efforts. People with FTD and healthy people may be able to participate. To find out more, talk to your health care provider or visit the Alzheimers.gov Clinical Trials Finder.
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What To Do If You Suspect That A Member Of Your Family Is Showing Signs Of Dementia
If you notice a change in a family members ability to recall information, repeat themselves, are confused, struggle with their vocabulary, or complete tasks that otherwise seem easy , consider making an appointment with them. His family doctor at the earliest.
A doctor may do memory tests and others to measure blood pressure and check the levels of various chemicals, hormones, and vitamins in the body. Family doctors may also refer the patient to a memory clinic, where more tests can be done to determine whether the diagnosis is dementia.
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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What Are Frontotemporal Disorders Causes Symptoms And Treatment
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Frontotemporal disorders , sometimes called frontotemporal dementia, are the result of damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Many possible symptoms can result, including unusual behaviors, emotional problems, trouble communicating, difficulty with work, or difficulty with walking. FTD is rare and tends to occur at a younger age than other forms of dementia. Roughly 60% of people with FTD are 45 to 64 years old.
FTD is progressive, meaning symptoms get worse over time. In the early stages, people may have just one symptom. As the disease progresses, other symptoms appear as more parts of the brain are affected. It is difficult to predict how long someone with FTD will live. Some people live more than 10 years after diagnosis, while others live less than two years after they are diagnosed.
There is currently no cure for FTD, and no treatments slow or stop the progression of the disease, but there are ways to help manage the symptoms.
A Correct Diagnosis Is Important
Consulting a doctor to obtain a diagnosis is critical at an early stage.
A complete medical and psychological assessment may identify a treatable condition and ensure that it is treated correctly, or confirm the presence of dementia and then ensure assistance is provided.
Such an assessment might include the following:
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What Is The Treatment For Dementia
Treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia are limited. While there are medications available to try to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the effect of these medications is limited. Physical exercise has been shown to be of some benefit in helping to maintain cognition. Staying engaged and participating in social events may also be of some help. To date, no treatment which can reverse the process of Alzheimer’s disease has been identified.
What Diseases Or Conditions May Worsen Dementia
Treatable disorders revealed by the diagnostic evaluation should receive prompt attention.
- Common, treatable conditions that cause or worsen dementia include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, infections, head injuries, brain tumors, hydrocephalus, anemia, hypoxia, hormone imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies.
- Treatment varies by disorder, but some treatments may rapidly reverse the dementia symptoms.
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How Do I Care For Someone With Dementia
Coordinate their care Your loved one will need more care as time goes on. It can be helpful to designate one person who coordinates care and helps them put together a care plan.
Plan ahead It is wise to plan early for the future. Encourage them to arrange for a trusted person to manage their affairs through a power of attorney, and to draw up an advanced care directive explaining what treatments they would prefer if they become unable to give consent later on.
Care for yourself Looking after a loved one with dementia can be tough and draining. Make sure you spend time socialising and meeting other people. Find activities and interests you can draw encouragement from. Give yourself space to rest, grieve and appreciate your loved one.
The Seven Stages Of Dementia
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
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General Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress slowly over several years. Sometimes these symptoms are confused with other conditions and may initially be put down to old age.
“In the early stages, the main symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory lapses,” explains the NHS.
For example, someone with early Alzheimer’s disease may:
- Forget about recent conversations or events
- Misplace items
- Forget the names of places and objects
- Have trouble thinking of the right word
- Ask questions repetitively
- Show poor judgement or find it harder to make decisions
- Become less flexible and more hesitant to try new things.
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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Building A Lewy Body Dementia Care Team
After receiving a diagnosis, a person with LBD may benefit from seeing a neurologist who specializes in dementia and/or movement disorders. Your primary doctor can work with other professionals to follow your treatment plan. Depending on an individual’s particular symptoms, physical, speech, and occupational therapists, as well as mental health and palliative care specialists, can be helpful.
Support groups are another valuable resource for people with LBD and their caregivers. Sharing experiences and tips with others in the same situation can help people find practical solutions to day-to-day challenges and get emotional and social support.
Hope For A Dementia Cure
It’s true that dementia is generally not reversible at this time. However, there are things that you can do to help yourself. What foods you eat, how mentally active you are, and how much physical activity you choose to participate in all affect your state of health both physical and cognitive. Much research has been conducted on these lifestyle choices and the conclusions have repeatedly shown that they can all play a role in your cognitive functioning.
There are also a handful of medications that are approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Some of those medications have been somewhat helpful in other types of dementia. Research generally suggests that earlier treatment is better and may have the potential to delay the progression of symptoms for a limited time.
Additionally, several people who are living with dementia report that quality of life is possible, despite their diagnosis. This often involves social interaction with friends and opportunities for meaningful activities.
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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.
Questions To Ask After Getting A Dementia Diagnosis
You should feel free to ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about dementia and your diagnosis. These 12 questions are a good place to start, but it’s normal to have several waves of questions as you begin to adjust. Take time to write them down as you think of them so that you can address them at your next practitioner’s visit.
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At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia
There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.
Who Is This Dementia Quiz For
Below is a list of 9 questions composed for people who are concerned about memory loss. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have symptoms of dementia, currently known as Neurocognitive Disorder , and are based on criteria in the DSM-5.
The following questions encompass the six domains of cognition that are evaluated when assessing symptoms NCD: executive functioning, complex attention, perceptual-motor ability, social interactions, learning/memory-related difficulties, and challenges involving daily activities.
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
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