We All Forget A Name Or A Face Sometimes Especially As We Get Older But Dementia Is Something Different
Memory problems are one of a number of symptoms that people with dementia may experience. Others include difficulties with planning, thinking things through, struggling to keep up with a conversation, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it doesnt just affect older people. Over 40,000 people under 65 in the UK have dementia. This is called early-onset or young-onset dementia.
Help and support
If youre worried about your memory, or about someone else, the first thing to do is make an appointment with the GP.
There are lots of reasons someone may show symptoms similar to dementia. These include depression, chest and urinary tract infections, vitamin and thyroid deficiencies and brain tumours.
Your GP can check for most of these and take the next steps to find out whats causing your memory problems.
We know it can feel daunting, but the quicker you talk to your GP, the sooner you can get the information, advice and support you need.
Pick And Choose Your Priorities And Let The Rest Go
Some people have said that dementia picks and chooses its own battles. However, others have shared that initially, they tried to “do everything right,” but as time went on, they learned that letting go of some of these pressures and expectations saved their own sanity and reduced their frustration.
Instead of focusing on meeting your own expectations and that of those around you, change your focus to what’s important at the moment. You will rarely go wrong if you ask yourself if the momentary challenge will be important in a month from now, or not, and proceed accordingly.
What Is Mixed Dementia
It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .
Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.
Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:
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Cognitive Effects Of Dementia
Cognitive symptoms are often what will alert loved ones to changes in the person, such as difficulty concentrating, finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, and struggling to find the right word as well as the more familiar symptom of memory loss, according to the NHS website. Cognitive ability can be affected in a number of ways, which can have a great effect on the both the person and their loved ones or caregivers. One of these is difficulty with place and time, for instance meaning that a person may get agitated and try to leave the house at around three oclock, because in their mind they are a young mum again who needs to collect their children from school.
The person can also struggle with decision-making and reasoning, and have difficulty with tasks such as shopping, due to not being able to recognise monetary values of coins or being able to make decisions about what to buy. While accompanying the person everywhere they go would seem a logical answer, that isnt always possible, and if the person still lives with some independence, loved ones will be reluctant to restrict that. Tracking devices and apps are one answer but arranging for a carer to take the person shopping may also help, and because Helping Hands can provide visiting care from just 30 minutes per week, we will be able to devise a package of care that is totally suitable for what you or your loved one need.
John: Searching For A Dementia Cure
Professor John Hardy is one of the world’s leading experts on Alzheimer’s research.
While drug treatments are available that can sometimes delay the progress of the symptoms, at present there are no treatments to prevent or cure Alzheimers disease.
However trials of new therapies have started, based on the latest information on what causes Alzheimers disease.
Over the last few years we have made real progress in understanding the causes, says John Hardy, professor of neuroscience at University College London and one of the worlds leading experts on Alzheimers research. Some are genetic and some seem to relate to early blood vessel damage.
We have not yet gone from understanding to developing effective treatments, but we are trying! In fact the first trials testing therapies based on this understanding will report over the next two years. If they are successful we will know we are on the right road.
There have also been recent reports of B vitamins, eating a Mediterranean diet, doing crosswords and taking exercise being helpful in connection with the prevention of dementia. Are they valid?, we asked John.
Theres no evidence as such, warns John, but theres no harm in taking moderate doses of vitamins and doing all of the others to keep your diet healthy, your blood pumping and your brain active.
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.
Common Causes Of Dementia
Medical intervention for dementia or dementia-like symptoms depends on the source of the problem. Although its widely believed that such conditions solely affect the elderly, thats inaccurate.
People of any age can experience these symptoms because the causes are related to a variety of health conditionsfrom traumatic brain injury to Alzheimers disease.
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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
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.
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Support For Dementia Caregivers At The End Of Life
Caring for people with Alzheimers or other dementias at home can be demanding and stressful for the family caregiver. Depression is a problem for some family caregivers, as is fatigue, because many feel they are always on call. Family caregivers may have to cut back on work hours or leave work altogether because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Many family members taking care of a person with advanced dementia at home feel relief when death happensfor themselves and for the person who died. It is important to realize such feelings are normal. Hospicewhether used at home or in a facility gives family caregivers needed support near the end of life, as well as help with their grief, both before and after their family member dies.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia
Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.
The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include:
- Experiencing memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
- Difficulty speaking, understanding and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
- Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
- Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
- Repeating questions
- Not caring about other peoples feelings
- Losing balance and problems with movement
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. Its important to consider a persons current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.
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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.
Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.
You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
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What To Watch For
Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:
Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimers Association says. They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.
Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.
Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious becomes upset easily or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.
Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.
People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.
Physical Effects Of Dementia
Different forms of dementia can bring different physical effects for instance, with vascular dementia, physical symptoms may manifest as movement problems or difficulty walking, whereas with Lewy Body dementia someone may display tremors, become slower in their physical movements and experience repeated falls due to a lack of balance. As dementia progresses, some people also become more agitated which may manifest as fidgeting, pulling at their bedding or clothes, following another person around or constantly pacing up and down.
This can be distressing for both the person and their loved ones, however sometimes this can be a sign of the person wanting to communicate their feelings, or simply that they need something to occupy their hands to bring comfort to them. This is where a fiddle blanket or muff can be reassuring and give the person something tactile to occupy them, rather than pulling at their clothes or even their skin. The Alzheimers Society have different ones available in their online shop.
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What Does Dementia Feel Like A Neuroscientist With First
When Dr. Barbara Lipskas hand disappeared in front of her face, her first thought was a brain tumor. She understood exactly what that diagnosis would mean because, in addition to losing her first husband to brain cancer and battling breast cancer herself, she had dedicated her life to studying brain abnormalities in rats and the frozen brains of humans as the director of the human brain bank at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Barbaras instincts were right, several melanoma tumors were growing in her prefrontal cortex and over the course of her treatment, there would be as many as 18 at a time. The moment she lost sight of her hand would mark the beginning of a harrowing journey that involved several experimental treatments including surgery, radiation, and an immunotherapy clinical trial. Her diagnosis should have been a death sentence, and many of the treatments came with difficult and painful side effects, but at the time of this writing, Barbara is fortunately in remission.
While new tumors continued to grow, the treatment caused significant brain swelling putting pressure on the prefrontal cortex and mimicking symptoms of the very dementia patients she had studied in her lab. For months, Barbara experiences cognitive changes in many of the same brain areas commonly affected by dementia.
Although There Is No Cure For Dementia Scientists And Researchers Are Working Hard To Find One
Until that day comes, support and treatments are available that can help with symptoms and managing daily life. These can allow people with dementia to lead active, purposeful lives and carry on doing the things that matter to them most.
There are drugs available that may help with some types of dementia and stop symptoms progressing for a while. This is one reason why its important to go to the GP as soon as you suspect theres a problem.
Other things that can help with symptoms of dementia include:
- cognitive stimulation, which might involve doing word puzzles or discussing current affairs
- life story work, sharing memories and experiences with a carer or nurse to create a life story book
- keeping as active as possible physically, mentally and socially which can boost memory and self esteem, and help avoid depression.
Through research, were learning more about dementia every day. Researchers are working with people with dementia and their families to look into the causes of dementia.
Theyre looking at how it might be prevented and diagnosed earlier, and how to improve quality of life for people living with the condition. The more we understand, the more we can do to help people stay independent and live the life they want for as long as possible.
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