What Increases The Risk For Dementia
- AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
- Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
- Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
- Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
- Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.
Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
What Are The Main Types Of Dementia
Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around 2 out of every 3 of cases in older people. Vascular dementia is another common form, while dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia are less common.
It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimers is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called mixed dementia.
The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the disease, or diseases, causing it. You can read more about the symptoms associated with different types of dementia on the Alzheimers Society website ;.
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When To Seek Medical Attention
Even for people without the disease, it is not easy to tell whether a person has dementia or not, the reason a doctors intervention is necessary.
It is because in most cases, dementia is only diagnosed when the symptoms start showing up and for some individuals, the disease may have progressed considerably.
This is one of the things that also makes it difficult to give a straight answer to the question do people with dementia know they have it.
There are some early warning signs, however, that may point towards a person having dementia.
Some of the most common ones include:
Memory Loss: Everything Became Fuzzier
Dementia symptoms result from damage to the brain caused by disease or injury. As brain cells die, it becomes difficult or impossible to store new memories or access old ones. Sometimes dementia comes on suddenly, after a stroke or head injury. Often it comes on more slowly as the result of conditions like Alzheimerâs disease or Parkinsonâs disease. Most causes of dementia cannot be reversed.
Mary Ann Becklenberg is in the early stages of Alzheimerâs disease, but her dementia symptoms have already had an enormous impact on her life. In 2006, she had to leave her position as a clinical social worker because she could no longer meet the responsibilities. âThe world became much less defined than it had been,â says Becklenberg. âEverything became fuzzier.â
The diagnosis didnât come until later. John Becklenberg says that he first knew that his wife had Alzheimerâs disease after she returned from a monthlong trip to California. âI was there with her for a week of her stay,â he says. âBut when she got back, she didnât remember that Iâd been there at all.â
âThat was so hard,â says Mary Ann Becklenberg, who now serves as an Alzheimerâs Association early stage adviser. âJohn listed all these things we did and places we went, and I didnât remember any of them. That was when we knew.â
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False Beliefs And Delusions In Dementia
The content below is reflective of our leaflet.
We understand the world through our senses. The five basic senses can be affected by dementia: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. These senses collect information and send it to the brain, which uses it to make sense of the world around us.
For some people living with dementia, their brain misinterprets the information from their senses. This can lead to them holding false beliefs and delusions about the world around them. These false beliefs or different realities can be very distressing for the person with dementia and the people caring for them. A common example is believing that someone is stealing from them. It might not be true, but to the person experiencing this belief, its real and trying to explain that it isnt real, might increase the persons distress.
In this leaflet, well look at what we mean by false beliefs and delusions, suggest why this might be happening, and think about ways to prevent or manage them.
Forgetting How To Do Everyday Tasks
This is different to: more typical age-related forgetfulness such as needing help to record a tv programme or how to use the settings on a microwave oven.
Your parent may start to find it hard to complete daily tasks; these might include the setting of a table, driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules of their favourite game.
Forgetting how to do everyday tasks is one of the signs of dementia and can be spotted in-person or by completing a Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam ; an early signs of dementia test which can be taken online.
However, this shouldnt be used as an official diagnostic tool; you should always seek the advice of a GP. Other examples of forgetting how to do simple everyday tasks can include:
- Closing the fridge door
- Making a cup of tea or coffee
- Locking / closing the front door
- Managing a budget
Your parent may start to find it difficult to complete tasks they used to be able to do with ease. For example, if they used to be a fantastic baker, they may now find it hard to bake the sponge cake theyve made over and over again.
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Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person With Dementia
We arenât born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementiaâbut we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.
The Brain Is Our Control Centre
Everything we do is controlled by the brain. It generates the instructions that tell our body parts what to do, as well as facilitating our complex behaviours, such as personality and cognition .
When a person has dementia, neurons in various parts of their brain stop communicating properly, disconnect, and gradually die. We call this process neurodegeneration.
Dementia is caused by progressive neurodegenerative diseases. This means the disease starts in one part of our brain and spreads to other parts, affecting more and more functions in the body.
Certain causes of dementia will impact different parts of the brain, and the symptoms a person with dementia develops will depend on what part of their brain is affected.
Dementia & Paranoia: My Mom Thinks I Steal From Her What Do I Do
Question: How do I respond to my mother with Alzheimers disease who keeps accusing me of stealing her money?
Answer: Your mother is experiencing a delusion. Delusions are false, fixed beliefs that cannot be explained on the basis of ones culture or religious background. In dementia, delusions occur frequently, with up to 30 per cent of individuals experiencing delusional ideas at some point in their illness.
Delusions in dementia are most frequently paranoid or persecutory in nature, and typically involve themes of people stealing from them, or people trying to harm them . Depending on the theme of the delusion, the person with dementia may become anxious, fearful, depressed, or even aggressive.
When delusions arise suddenly, it is always important to rule out a medical condition, like an infection, that could be causing the new symptoms. In these cases, treating the underlying medical problem, or stopping a new medication, might reduce or eliminate the delusion.
If the doctor confirms that the person is medically stable, this might be another new symptom of the illness, and suggests that the underlying dementia is getting worse. Delusions in dementia however, are not necessarily a permanent symptom of the illness, and may wax and wane throughout the course of the disease.
Theyre Not Wrong About Everything
Weve seen it many times: the person with dementia is almost completely ignored when they say something, whether its about their level of pain or what happened yesterday when their grandson came to visit. You cant always believe everything that you hear from someone with dementia, but give them the courtesy of allowing for the possibility that they might be correct periodically.
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They Are Not To Blame For Their Disease
Its not their fault. Yes, there are some things that research says may reduce the chances of developing Alzheimers, but there are many people who have developed the disease despite practicing those healthy habits. We still arent sure exactly what triggers Alzheimers to develop, so let go of the thought that they shouldve done this or that to avoid the disease. It’s of no help to either one of you.
Why Does It Happen
Dementia can cause people to have difficulty with recognising people, places and things, particularly in later stages. Dementia can also affect peoples memory, so that they might not remember where they left something or why theyre in a particular place.
These problems with recognition and memory can lead to suspicion, paranoia and false beliefs. They might think that strange people are in their house; they might find themselves unexpectedly in a place they dont recognise. Objects might seem to disappear from the place they were sure they were in. Conversations theyre having might not make sense to them. People seek to understand these confusing and worrying events, and might do so by blaming someone or something else.
Delirium can also lead to the appearance or increase in false beliefs or different realities. If there is a sudden change in someones behaviour or thinking, or they appear much more confused than usual, it could be due to delirium. This should be investigated by a doctor immediately .
How can I recognise when a person with dementia is experiencing delusions?
The person with dementia might:
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When Should I Ask For Support
Supporting people with dementia at the end of their life requires a team approach. Often, there will be many people involved in the persons care at the end of their life. Good communication and information sharing helps to ensure the person receives the care they need.
If youre unsure about anything or have any concerns seek advice from a colleague, manager or another health care professional.
There may be certain professionals who can advise on specific issues. These may include a GP, district nurses, social workers, other care staff and specialists.
Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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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
How To Talk To Someone You Think Has Signs Of Dementia
Talking about memory loss, and the possibility of dementia, can be difficult. Someone who is experiencing these symptoms may be confused, unaware they have any problems,;worried, or struggling to accept their condition.
Before starting;a conversation with someone you’re concerned about,;the Alzheimer’s Society suggests you ask yourself:
- has the person noticed their symptoms?
- do they think their problems are just a natural part of ageing?
- are they scared about what their symptoms could mean for their future?
- do they think there will not be any point in seeking help?
- are you the best person to talk to them about memory problems?
When you do talk to them, choose a place that is familiar and not threatening. Also, allow plenty of time so the conversation is not rushed.
The Alzheimer’s Society has more tips on how to talk to someone about memory problems.
If the person does not want to see a GP, many UK dementia charities offer support and advice from specialist nurses or advisers, such as:
- Alzheimer’s Society’s national helpline: or email:
Finding The Message In Dementia Symptoms
When it comes to understanding dementia symptoms, Kallmyer says that there are limits to what a caregiver can do. âSometimes, the behavior of a person with dementia will have no meaning,â she says. âThe disease is just destroying their brain cells, and their actions have no rhyme or reason.â
But other times, Kallmyer says, seemingly irrational dementia symptoms will cloak a message that you can decode. âWe like to think of all behaviors as forms of communication from a person with dementia,â she tells WebMD. Taking the time to interpret and understand could not only get your loved one what they need, but also bring you closer together. While the relationship you once had with your loved one will fade away, you may forge a new and different but still meaningful connection.
John and Mary Ann Becklenberg canât know what the future holds for them, but for now theyâre focusing on what they have.
âI think that weâve actually felt closer as a result of this disease,â says John Becklenberg, who is the primary caregiver for his wife. âIâve had to slow down some and take more time with her.â
She also has some advice. âDespite the difficulties, Iâd urge caregivers and people with to try to find the humor in their lives,â she says. âJohn and I laugh about things, and it helps. People really need to know that.â
How To Best Respond
Families and friends of those affected by dementia often do not know how to respond when their loved ones rely on these remote memories, at heart, living in the past. Its certainly not the case that these remote memories should be ignored or suppressed.
Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality, families and carers may try to enter their reality; building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. This is known as validation therapy but many families and carers will practise this technique without knowing its name.
Reminiscence therapy has also been shown to increase mood, well-being and behaviour in those with dementia. This involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences .
Alzheimers Australia has some fantastic help sheets and phone line to help carers and family members communicate with loved ones with dementia.
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Behaviors: They’re Not Choosing Them But They Do Have Meaning
Dont just write off a challenging behavior as if they were choosing to be difficult that day. Most often, theres a reason that they are acting the way they are. This can include becoming resistive because theyre in pain, being combative with care because theyre feeling anxious or paranoid, or wandering away because theyre restless and need some exercise. Take the time to work on figuring out why the behavior is there and how you can help the person, instead of first suggesting a psychoactive medication.
Support For Families And Carers
Dealing with these behaviours day in and day out is not easy. It is essential that you seek support for yourself from an understanding family member, a friend, a professional or a support group.
Keep in mind that feelings of distress, frustration, guilt, exhaustion and exasperation are quite normal.