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HomeHealthWhat Is Dementia Dementia Australia

What Is Dementia Dementia Australia

How Do I Care For Someone With Dementia

What is 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.

Diagnosis Of Alzheimers Disease

There is not a simple test to tell us if someone has Alzheimerâs. Diagnosis requires a comprehensive medical evaluation, which may include:

Is there an Alzheimerâs test?There is no simple way to detect Alzheimerâs. Diagnosis requires a complete medical exam. Blood tests, mental status tests and brain imaging may be used to determine the cause of symptoms.

  • Your familyâs medical history
  • A neurological exam
  • Cognitive tests to evaluate memory and thinking
  • Blood tests (to rule out other possible causes of symptoms
  • Brain imaging

While doctors can usually determine if someone has dementia, it may be more difficult to distinguish what type of dementia. Misdiagnosis is more common with younger-onset Alzheimerâs. Receiving an accurate diagnosis earlier in the disease process is important because it allows:

  • A higher likelihood of benefiting from available treatments, which can improve quality of life
  • The opportunity to receive support services
  • A chance to participate in clinical trials and studies
  • An opportunity to express wishes regarding future care and living arrangements
  • Time to put financial and legal plans in place

The 3 Most Common Types Of Dementia

Before we talk through the different types of dementia, lets first make sure you are aware of what we mean by dementia. Dementia is the umbrella term used to describe a collection of symptoms that are caused by the disorders impacting the brain. Rather, it does not refer to one specific disease, but instead a number of symptoms associated with a number of different neurological conditions.

People with dementia will experience changes with their thinking, ability to perform everyday tasks and behaviour. The extent to which people experience these symptoms will vary from person to person.

Understand Alzheimers Disease in 3 Minutes is an easy-to-understand video that describes the progression of Alzheimers Disease by TenderRoseHomeCare

The 3 most common types of dementia are listed below, and we have provided an overview of the prevalence in Australia and what symptoms may be observed.

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Frontotemporal Dementia With Parkinsonism

One form of familial FTD, also known as frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism-17 , is caused by genetic changes in the gene for tau protein, located on chromosome 17. No other risk factors for this condition are known.

FTDP-17 is rare and accounts for only three per cent of all cases of dementia. Symptoms progressively get worse over time and usually appear between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition affects both thinking and behavioural skills and movements such as rigidity, lack of facial expression and problems with balance .

It can be distressing to be told that you have a genetic disorder or are at risk of having one. Genetic counselling provides the person and their family with information about a genetic disorder and its likely impact on their lives. This can assist a person with FTDP-17 to make informed medical and personal decisions about how to manage their condition and the challenges it presents to their health and wellbeing. Prenatal genetic counselling is also available for parents to help them decide about a pregnancy that may be at risk of FTDP-17.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

Dementia Australia

Because dementia is a general term, its symptoms can vary widely from person to person. People with dementia have problems with:

  • Memory
  • Reasoning, judgment, and problem solving
  • Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision

Signs that may point to dementia include:

  • Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
  • Forgetting old memories
  • Not being able to complete tasks independently

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The Use Of The Word Senile

The common use of the word senile loosely references the loss of cognitive abilities or the inability to think clearly. Although still occasionally used, this term has lost its popularity, partly because it has a negative, disrespectful tone, as in, The old man is senile.

Senile was used more commonly in the past, especially when memory loss and confusion were thought of, by some, as a normal consequence of getting older. The view used to be that the body and the mind both could be expected to decline together as someone aged, and that poor mental functioning was just a normal part of aging.

An individual was often described as having senile dementia or senile Alzheimers, meaning that the disease and its associated mental decline developed in older age.

Science now understands that significant memory loss, disorientation, and confusion are not normal parts of aging but rather are symptoms of a neurocognitive disorder such as Alzheimers, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, or Lewy body dementia.

Senile is sometimes used to describe the plaques that build up in the brain as Alzheimers disease progresses. These senile plaques are often described as one of the hallmarks of Alzheimers disease, along with neurofibrillary tangles.

Inaccurate Definitions Can Cause Confusion And Misperceptions

Claudia Chaves, MD, is board-certified in cerebrovascular disease and neurology with a subspecialty certification in vascular neurology.

The most basic definition of senile from Merriam-Webster is relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of, old age. Thus, the pure use of the word senile simply refers to its age.

However, the use of the word senile is more commonly, but somewhat incorrectly, associated with a decline in mental abilities, such as memory loss or confusion, as people age. Take, for example, this sentence: Their senile grandmother would never remember their visits, but they knew they brightened her day.

Senile is often combined with other words, such as senile Alzheimers, senile dementia, and senile plaques. Senile can also be added as a descriptor and applied to other medical conditions, such as senile arthritis or senile osteoporosis.

The word senile in these cases refers to the older age in which the condition developed and is completely unrelated to your cognitive function. Another common form of the word is senility.

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The Future Of Dementia

Its possible that like cancer, dementia will never be completely preventable, but we can improve on methods to delay its onset and lessen its damage. The Australian Government set up the National Institute of Dementia Research in 2013 to coordinate funding and research projects on dementia. State and federal governments are committed to continued funding dementia research .

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What is Frontotemporal Dementia?

Explore a wide range of tools and programs for organisations and staff supporting people living with dementia

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Dementia Australias Centre for Dementia Learning offers a wide range of courses and professional development programs for professionals working with and supporting people living with dementia.

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What Is Difference Between Senility And Dementia

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  • 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

What Assistance With Everyday Activities Do People With Dementia Receive

People with dementia living in the community may receive assistance from a range of providers depending on their needs.Notably, the bulk of care was provided by informal carers , with informal care being the only care received for many of the activities. For example, of those needing help with reading and writing, 89.2% received only informal assistance with the activities. Similarly, of those needing assistance with meal preparation, this need was only met by informal sources for 81.1% of the people affected.

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Dementia Caused By Huntingtons Disease

Huntingtons disease is an inherited degenerative brain disease that affects the mind and body. It usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50, and is characterised by intellectual decline and irregular involuntary movement of the limbs or facial muscles. Other symptoms include personality change, memory disturbance, slurred speech, impaired judgement and psychiatric problems.There is no treatment available to stop the progression of this disease, but medication can control movement disorders and psychiatric symptoms. Dementia occurs in the majority of people with Huntingtons disease.

Middle Stages Of Dementia

Dementia Australia

In those stages, patients may still be able to live independently, although they will require more assistance with their activities of daily living. Managing finances, and assistance with dressing and bathing are commonly needed, as people with mid-stage dementia often experience more confusion, additional memory loss, sleep pattern disturbances such as sleeping during the day and restlessness at night.

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How Is Dementia Diagnosed

An early diagnosis allows someone to get support quickly, or in some cases identify a treatable condition. Referral to a neurologist, a neuropsychologist and/or a geriatrician may also be appropriate.

Diagnosing dementia requires a full medical and psychological assessment. This may include:

Memory Loss & Other Symptoms Of Alzheimers

Trouble with memoryâspecifically difficulty recalling information that has recently been learnedâis often the first symptom of Alzheimerâs disease.

As we grow older, our brains change, and we may have occasional problems remembering certain details. However, Alzheimerâs disease and other dementias cause memory loss and other symptoms serious enough to interfere with life on day-to-day basis. These symptoms are not a natural part of getting older.

Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of memory loss. Many people have trouble with memory â this does NOT mean they have Alzheimer’s. There are many different causes of memory loss. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of dementia, it is best to visit a doctor so the cause can be determined.

In addition to memory loss, symptoms of Alzheimerâs include:

  • Trouble completing tasks that were once easy.
  • Difficulty solving problems.
  • Changes in mood or personality withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Problems with communication, either written or spoken.
  • Confusion about places, people and events.
  • Visual changes, such trouble understanding images.

Family and friends may notice the symptoms of Alzheimerâs and other progressive dementias before the person experiencing these changes. If you or someone you know is experiencing possible symptoms of dementia, it is important to seek a medical evaluation to find the cause.

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Alzheimers Disease: Symptoms & Treatment

Alzheimers is a progressive brain disease that is caused due to complex brain changes following cells to waste away, damage, and die. It slowly affects the brain causing impairment in cognitive abilities and memory. Alzheimers disease is progressive in nature and worsens over time.

The cause of this is unknown. In Alzheimers disease, there is a formation of abnormal structures in the brain, which blocks communication between the brain cells leading to the death of brain cells. It is not possible to diagnose someone with this disease with complete accuracy, but the patient is diagnosed as probable Alzheimers disease.

The symptoms of dementia and Alzheimers may overlap, but there are some differences. Similar symptoms include reduced ability to think, impairment in communication, and memory.

Symptoms of Alzheimers mostly include

  • Difficulty in remembering people and conversations
  • Forgetfulness
  • Vision changes related to cataracts
  • Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later
  • Making errors while managing finances and other tasks
  • Trouble finding the right word while having conversations
  • Misplacing things from time to time
  • Feeling uninterested in the family or social obligations
  • Becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted
  • Difficulty in doing tasks such as cooking, bathing or grooming, and impaired language
  • Work Together To Create Change

    What is Alzheimers Disease?

    The majority of people with dementia live in a community. But many communities dont really understand what dementia is or how it can affect someone. This may lead to people living with dementia, their families and carers feeling socially isolated.

    The good news is that with the support of their communities, people living with dementia can continue to live the life they choose. They can continue to engage in the activities that are important to them.

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    What Causes Frontotemporal Dementia

    FTD is caused by brain disease, but why some people get the disease is unknown .

    People with FTD can have one of a number of different underlying changes in brain cells. These various cellular changes generally can not be observed during life, but only with a brain autopsy to identify the changes under a microscope. Cellular studies of the brain have shown that there are two types of protein which accumulate in brain cells in FTD tau and TDP-43. These protein accumulations damage and kill brain cells in the frontal and/or temporal lobes. As the disease progresses, these regions show shrinkage detectable on MRI scans.

    Phases Of The Condition

    Some of the features of dementia are commonly classified into three stages or phases. It is important to remember that not all of these features will be present in every person, nor will every person go through every stage. However, it remains a useful description of the general progression of dementia.

    • Early Dementia
    • Advanced Dementia

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    Can You Prevent Dementia

    No but there are ways to reduce the risk.

    A landmark report in medical journal The Lancet in 2020 identified 12 risk factors that, if addressed, might prevent or delay up to 40 per cent of dementias.

    These include less education in early life, hearing loss, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, infrequent social contact, excessive alcohol consumption, head injury and air pollution.

    To reduce the risk of dementia you can increase physical activity, maintain a healthy, balanced diet, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake, improve sleeping patterns and check your hearing.

    Many people dont know hearing loss can increase your risk of developing dementia, says McCabe.

    Studies have shown that the brains of people with hearing impairment atrophy more quickly. The brain must also work overtime to understand what people are saying, so there are fewer resources available for other functions such as learning and memory. And people with hearing impairment are more likely to become socially isolated, intensifying the risk of dementia.

    The Lancet report found hearing loss was the largest modifiable risk factor, accounting for 9 per cent of cases. It recommended hearing aids.

    A scientist working on Alzheimers research at drugmaker Biogens headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Biogen is one of the companies behind the drug aducanumab.Credit:Biogen via AP

    What Causes Dementia

    Dementia Australia

    More than 100 different diseases can cause dementia. In most cases, dementia isnt inherited from your parents see more on genetics of dementia.

    Alzheimers disease, the most well-known cause of dementia, affects nearly 7 out of 10 people with dementia. Alzheimers disease causes certain proteins and other chemicals to build up in the brain and as a result, cells will gradually die and cause the brain to shrink. These changes interfere with a persons thinking and short-term memory, and results in dementia that worsens over time.

    Vascular dementia is a broad term to describe dementia caused by problems with blood circulation to the brain. Some people develop dementia after several small strokes . Others develop dementia when high blood pressure and thickened arteries cause poor blood flow.

    Lewy body disease causes unusual round clusters of protein to develop inside certain brain cells. These cells eventually break down and die, causing dementia.

    Frontotemporal dementia is caused by gradual damage to the front and temporal lobes of the brain. In these cases, the first changes tend to occur in mood, behaviour and personality, rather than memory.

    Alcohol-related dementia is a form of dementia caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Its thought that the brain damage is partly caused by a lack of vitamins due to consistent heavy drinking.

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    Where To Get Help

    • Your local community health service
    • Your local council
    • National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
    • Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
    • My Aged Care Tel. 1800 200 422
    • Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
    • Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
    • Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres Tel 1800 052 222
    • Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers

    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.

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    Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia

    Although Alzheimers disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.

    Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:

    • personality changes reduced sensitivity to others feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
    • lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
    • language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
    • becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking

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