How Is Dementia Treated
Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining social contacts, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases and may reduce number of people with dementia.
What Are The Treatments For Dementia
There is no cure for most types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Treatments may help to maintain mental function longer, manage behavioral symptoms, and slow down the symptoms of disease. They may include:
- Medicines may temporarily improve memory and thinking or slow down their decline. They only work in some people. Other medicines can treat symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and muscle stiffness. Some of these medicines can cause strong side effects in people with dementia. It is important to talk to your health care provider about which medicines will be safe for you.
- Occupational therapy to help find ways to more easily do everyday activities
- Speech therapy to help with swallowing difficulties and trouble speaking loudly and clearly
- Mental health counseling to help people with dementia and their families learn how to manage difficult emotions and behaviors. It can also help them plan for the future.
- Music or art therapy to reduce anxiety and improve well-being
How Can You Help Someone With Dementia
Its natural to be irritated when a question is asked for the zillionth time, but people with dementia will pick up and absorb your mood. When communicating with people with dementia, try to be calm and reassuring. You can also distract them with an activity they enjoy. When someone you love has dementia, losses and changes are inevitable, but you dont have to shoulder the responsibility alone enlist the help of friends and family. Try to live in the present as much as possible and seek out joy.
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Psychological Changes For Dementia Patients
- Changes in mood: Frequent mood swings, increased sensitivity to change, and increased anxiety and agitation.
- Personality changes: Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and sometimes completely changed personality and behaviors.
- Hallucinations or paranoia: In later stages of dementia, sufferers may believe that even close friends or family are dangerous or “out to get them”.
- Neglecting safety, personal hygiene, exercise, or nutrition. May display decreased judgement skills involving money, like careless purchases or giving away large sums of money.
- Socially inappropriate behavior: Making rude or explicit sexual comments publicly or to strangers.
Cognitive Changes For Dementia Patients
- Disorientation: A person with dementia becomes lost in familiar places, expresses confusion about the date or time of day, or has difficulty with directions.
- Memory loss: Failure to recognize people and faces, in later stages even family members or close loved ones. Dementia patients can also experience decreases in short term memory, such as asking the same questions repeatedly or forgetting recent events and conversations.
- Problems communicating: Loss of social skills and lack of interest in socializing, frequently forgetting words, or being unable to follow a conversation.
- Difficulty with complex tasks: Difficulty planning or organizing events, paying bills, following recipes, writing letters, or traveling to new locations.
- Difficulty staying focused and concentrating, decreased ability to learn and memorize new information.
- Problems with coordination: Decreased motor functions and coordination, sometimes manifested as trembling, shaking, or difficulty walking.
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Risk Factors And Prevention
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.
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.
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How Long Can A Person Live With Alzheimers Disease
The time from diagnosis to death varies as little as three or four years if the person is older than 80 when diagnosed, to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger.
Alzheimers disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimers disease, though there has been significant progress in recent years in developing and testing new treatments. Several medicines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat people with Alzheimers.
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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Is It Dementia Or Old Age
A list of dementia symptoms may include factors like decreased focus, lack of motivation, or decreased memory. Suffering from these symptoms doesn’t always point to dementia. In fact, many dementia symptoms can be a completely normal part of aging, or can be signs of other afflictions like depression. In understanding dementia, one of the most important first steps is learning what distinguishes regular cognitive changes from dementia.
Most people experience mild cognitive changes and memory loss as they begin to move into their 50s. One of the clearest indicators of dementia is the speed of progression. Regular mental decline associated with aging is usually a slow and gradual loss of memory or attention span. Dementia, however, is often characterized by rapid, sudden, and severe changes in memory and cognitive ability.
For dementia symptoms that overlap with normal aging-related cognitive changes, there are distinguishing factors that can help understand whether or not these are regular changes. These can include:
Psychological And Psychosocial Therapies
Psychological therapies for dementia include some limited evidence for reminiscence therapy , some benefit for cognitive reframing for caretakers, unclear evidence for validation therapy and tentative evidence for mental exercises, such as cognitive stimulation programs for people with mild to moderate dementia. Offering personally tailored activities may help reduce challenging behavior and may improve quality of life. It is not clear if personally tailored activities have an impact on affect or improve for the quality of life for the caregiver.
Adult daycare centers as well as special care units in nursing homes often provide specialized care for dementia patients. Daycare centers offer supervision, recreation, meals, and limited health care to participants, as well as providing respite for caregivers. In addition, home care can provide one-to-one support and care in the home allowing for more individualized attention that is needed as the disorder progresses. Psychiatric nurses can make a distinctive contribution to people’s mental health.
Some London hospitals found that using color, designs, pictures and lights helped people with dementia adjust to being at the hospital. These adjustments to the layout of the dementia wings at these hospitals helped patients by preventing confusion.
Personally tailored activities
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Patient Discussion About Dementia
Q. how is dementia and alcoholism related
Q. Is obesity a risk factor for Dementia?
Q. discussing my father situation with the doctor My 82 years old dad has dementia, and currently lives with us at my home. For the last few weeks he’s very nervous and sometimes yells and screams at us. I want to take him to the doctor and see if he can get any help, but I’m afraid that if I’ll try to speak with doctor about this subject in front of my dad he’ll take offense. What can I do?Thank you very much!
What Do Alzheimers Patients Remember
People with Alzheimers tend to recall their greatest hits, emotionally speaking, particularly if they see a visual clue . While the broad strokes of the memory remain the same, the details are apt to change with each telling. Alzheimers patients often forget they have already told a story and may repeat the same memory across visits. In cases where the memory loss is more disruptive, people with Alzheimers may make up fabulous, fictitious stories about their lives that they genuinely believe are true.
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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.
Your Role As A Caregiver
Establishing a good working relationship with the primary care physician helps ensure good care and ongoing support. A comprehensive medical workup that rules out treatable conditions and provides information on current status offers a foundation for care planning, now and in the future.
An accurate diagnosis begins a process of education for caregivers and families so that needs can be met and resources located and put to use. Irreversible dementia requires a level of care that increases as the disease progresses. Through education and the use of available resources, families can learn new skills to handle shifting care needs.
Many families provide care at home for a person with dementia. While this can be an enriching and very rewarding experience, it can also be stressful. Studies have shown that caring for someone with a brain-impairing disorder can be more stressful than caring for someone with a physical impairment. It is essential that caregivers take the time to care for themselves physically and emotionally.
Support and assistance are very important throughout the months or years you are a caregiver. You will need respite from time to timeâa break from caregiving demands. Help from friends, other family members, or community agencies is invaluable so that you can continue to provide your loved one with good care without becoming exhausted, frustrated, or simply burned out.
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What Are The Different Types Of Dementia
Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.
The five most common forms of dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
- Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
- Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
- Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.
Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
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What Does Alzheimers Disease Look Like
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimers, though initial symptoms may vary from person to person. A decline in other aspects of thinking, such as finding the right words, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that can be an early sign of Alzheimers, but not everyone with MCI will develop the disease.
People with Alzheimers have trouble doing everyday things like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. They may ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, lose things or put them in odd places, and find even simple things confusing. As the disease progresses, some people become worried, angry, or violent.
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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What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia
- Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
- Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
- Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.
What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Standard Memory Loss
Some memory loss is a result of normal aging rather than dementia. Memory problems become concerning when they are disabling and prevent normal, everyday functioning. Some early warning signs of possible dementia include having trouble using words in speaking and writing, having difficulty working with numbers and making plans, struggling to complete routine tasks , losing track of the normal passage of time, and getting confused easily. A person with dementia may also show signs of poor judgment, exhibit changes in mood or personality, or begin withdrawing from their usual social activities.
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Examples Of Dementia In A Sentence
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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘dementia.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with the disease those with the late-onset type symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Early-onset Alzheimers occurs between a persons 30s and mid-60s and is very rare. Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers .
These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimers disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body. Many other complex brain changes are thought to play a role in Alzheimers, too.
This damage initially takes place in parts of the brain involved in memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex, such as those responsible for language, reasoning, and social behavior. Eventually, many other areas of the brain are damaged.
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Common Forms Of Dementia
There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitive physical injuries to the brain or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.