Are There Any Treatments
There are treatments that can help with the symptoms of some forms of dementia for a period of time, but there are currently no treatments that slow, halt or reverse the changes in the brain caused by the diseases. There are currently no treatments specifically for vascular dementia or frontotemporal dementia.
In the case of vascular dementia, a doctor may prescribe medication to treat underlying cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes. Physiotherapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy may be offered to help with speech or movement problems. Non-drug treatments such as cognitive therapies may be available and can help some people with dementia to manage their symptoms.
Alzheimer’s Society has more information on treatments for dementia.
When People With Dementia Refuse Help
A person with dementia may refuse to fit in with a routine that does not match their own. This is a positive sign! It shows us that the person still has a sense of their own identity and autonomy. Care services need to be flexible enough to fit in with the individuals routines. For example, if someone has always worked nights, it might be …
How To Test For Dementia
There is no single test that can determine a person is suffering from dementia. The doctor can diagnose different types of dementia such as Alzheimers based on their medical history.
This has to be done very carefully. In addition, the doctor may conduct laboratory tests, physical examinations, and changes in the way the patient thinks.
When all things are considered carefully, a doctor can be able to determine that a person is actually suffering from dementia with certainty. Determining the type of dementia can be hard, especially due to the fact that brain changes and symptoms that are associated with the different types of dementias sometimes overlap.
It is normal for the doctor to give a diagnosis of dementia without really specifying the type. In such a case, it is important for the patient to visit a specialist in this area like a psychologist or neurologist for a more specific diagnosis.
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.
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.
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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.
What Leads To Dementia Death
Dementia is a progressive decline in brain function. Its often thought of as memory loss, but dementia affects overall brain functioning, including the brain cells that control movement and swallowing. Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia, is the 6 th leading cause of death for adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
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Scenario : The Person Is Mentally Competent But Fails Or Refuses To Sign A Power Of Attorney
In this scenario, the person with dementia is still able to make sound decisions, but hasnt done any estate planning or has refused to set up any powers of attorney or co-owned financial accounts.
At this point, says Anderson, the person is still entitled to make decisions on their own regarding finances and health care.
They could sign financial and health care powers of attorney to designate a trusted person to make these decisions for them. Or, they could choose to make no estate planning decisions at all.
This can create a very difficult situation for everyone involved.
Option 1: Suggest standby conservatorship and/or guardianship insteadOne option is to have an open, honest discussion with the person. Emphasize the importance of having a financial or health care power of attorney and the negative consequences of not having any powers of attorney in place.
If the person still refuses to sign a power of attorney, you could suggest that they consider signing standby conservatorship and/or guardianship papers instead.
These documents would allow them to choose who they would want to make financial or healthcare decisions for them. Later, these documents would allow the court to hold a voluntary proceeding.
Doing this would be simpler, easier, and cheaper than if an involuntary guardianship or conservatorship were required.
Dementia And Your Legal Rights
This booklet has been written to help people diagnosed with dementia, their families and carers to better understand the legal issues they may be faced with, their legal rights and the actions they can take to protect their rights. The issues covered in this booklet include: 1. What mental capacity means, and how it applies to decision-making. 2.
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What Are The Warning Signs That Life Is Nearing An End
When an elderly person with dementia is almost bearing their end, it can be very traumatic especially for the loved ones. It is important to have an idea of what signs one needs to expect when the end comes as this can give you some sort of comfort.
When you think of a condition such as Alzheimers disease, a person can live for over 10 years with it. It is possible to make the person happy over those years. Since we are not immortals, at some point life does come to an end when you have dementia and it is something that one needs to be prepared for especially if they are caregivers.
Handling the final stage of dementia is much easier, especially when you are aware of the things that you should expect. It is important to give the person the kind of care that will award him or her dignified and peaceful death.
Usually, when a person is about to reach the end, the dementia symptoms usually get worse and this can be quite upsetting. Some of the things that you may notice include:
- Limited mobility so they may have to be bed bound
- Limited speech or no speech at all
- Double incontinence
- Difficulties swallowing and eating
It is important to note that the above symptoms do not really mean that the person will just die. There are people who can have such symptoms for quite some time. You should also remember that about two-thirds of dementia patients succumb to other ailments such as pneumonia.
Some of the other signs that can indicate that death is indeed close include:
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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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.
Dos And Donts When Dealing With Dementia
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimers disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases. Common symptoms of dementia are problems with short-term memory and the ability to concentrate, with symptoms usually progressing rapidly over time. Understanding how to care for someone with dementia can be difficult for anyone.
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What Are Potentially Treatable Causes Of Dementia
The dementia in treatable conditions may be reversible or partially reversible, even if the underlying disease or damage is not. However, readers should note that if underlying brain damage is extensive or severe, these causes may be classified as irreversible by the individual’s physician.
There is no specific test for dementia. However, dementia may be diagnosed if at least two of the following core mental functions are significantly impaired, according to some researchers:
- Attentiveness/focus on a problem or subject
- Visual perception
In some people, the signs and symptoms of dementia are easily recognized in others, they can be very subtle. A careful and thorough evaluation is needed to identify their true cause.
An assessment of dementia symptoms should include a mental status evaluation. This evaluation uses various “pencil and paper,””talking,” and physical tests to identify brain dysfunction. A more thorough type of testing, performed by a psychologist, is called neuropsychologic testing.
Lab tests may be used to identify or rule out possible causes of dementia.
In some cases, imaging studies of the brain may be necessary to detect conditions such as normal pressure hydrocephalus, brain tumor, or infarction or bleeding in the brain.
Proactively Complete Essential Legal Documents To Avoid Costly Problems
Mentally competent persons of at least 18 years of age should have a will, financial power of attorney, and health care power of attorney in place.
Its also a good idea to consider completing a living will.
This is vitally important to save family finances and ease the burden on those that have to undertake these duties for the disabled or deceased person, says Anderson.
A few simple documents can save an enormous amount of time, trouble and expense. The worst thing most people can do is to do nothing.
To learn how you can connect with affordable, local network attorneys and have 100% of attorney fees paid in full for legal matters like estate planning, visit ARAGlegal.com.
Limitations and exclusions apply. Insurance products are underwritten by ARAG Insurance Company of Des Moines, Iowa, GuideOne® Mutual Insurance Company of West Des Moines, Iowa or GuideOne Specialty Mutual Insurance Company of West Des Moines, Iowa. Service products are provided by ARAG Services, LLC. This material is for illustrative purposes only and is not a contract. For terms, benefits or exclusions, call 800-758-2860.
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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
A Coordinated Push For Better Diagnosis And New Treatments
We heard from Dr Jennifer Whitwell from the Mayo Clinic in the US whose research into brain imaging in FTD is identifying new ways to distinguish between the different types of FTD. On average, people with FTD can wait up to five years for an accurate diagnosis, and reports suggest that almost three quarters of people are initially misdiagnosed. So advances in this area are vital for families affected, as well as helping researchers to improve their approach to studying the disease.
Brain imaging is also a central theme in the Genetic Frontotemporal Dementia Initiative , outlined today by Dr Jonathan Rohrer from UCL. This collaborative programme is following hundreds of people whose families are affected by inherited forms of FTD. Using brain scans, the team has already identified particular networks of nerve cells in the brain that are affected differently in FTD caused by different faulty genes.
The study is now entering a second phase with the ultimate aim to map what changes happen in brain, blood and spinal fluid in FTD and when. This will be vital for helping to guide future clinical trials of new treatments in the disease.
As the Alzheimers Research UK Drug Discovery Institutes are kick-starting new drug discovery programmes and a Dementia Consortium drug discovery project already focusing on FTD, its vital these kinds of initiatives run hand-in-hand.
- Weve already funded over £11m into FTD, donate to help us fund more.
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Choosing The Right Care Home For Someone With Dementia
There are plenty of wonderful care homes in the UK that can support people with dementia, so youre really spoilt for choice! The first thing youll need to do is request a needs assessment from your local authority.
This will analyse your loved ones condition and provide recommendations on the type and level of care they need, as well as conducting a financial assessment to look at care home costs and funding options.
When your loved one has been assessed, most care homes will visit your relative either at home or in hospital or invite them to the home for a visit if possible.
While at the home, talk to the staff, the care home manager and other residents to get a feel for the home. What are the facilities like? Are there activities especially for those with dementia? Will your loved one be able to decorate their own room to make it more familiar?
Above all, it should be left to your loved one to choose the home that feels right for them, but let them know that you are there to provide support and advice along the way.
Things To Try When Someone With Dementia Stops Recognising You
Often, people with dementia stop recognising those around them. Our dementia specialist Admiral Nurses share their advice on coping with this difficult stage.
As dementia progresses, some people stop recognising people they know even close friends and family. This can be upsetting for the person with dementia and for the people who are no longer recognised.
Not everyone with dementia will have difficulty recognising people, though for example, its more common in people with Alzheimers disease, and rarer in those with vascular dementia.
Sometimes, a lack of recognition of friends and family is a memory issue. A person with dementia may appear to travel back in time, reliving memories from when they were younger. They might expect grown-up children to be small again, or think their parents are still alive, or believe theyre still working, or in a relationship with a previous partner or spouse.
In other cases, the part of the brain that is responsible for recognising faces can become damaged. This is referred to as prosopagnosia or face blindness.
If a person with dementia is failing to recognise you or others for the first time, or seems distressed in your company, there may be another underlying cause, such as an infection, constipation or a reaction to medication changes. Its a good idea to make an appointment with their GP to rule out other causes that could be treatable.
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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 .
What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
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