What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
Where To Find Help And Support
Community and voluntary organisations can provide help and support to people affected by a dementia, their family and friends.
This support includes:
- information about services
- carers’ training programmes to make sure family and friends know the best ways to support a person with a dementia
- group support services for people with a dementia and their carers
You can find more information and support services from the following organisations, see also more useful links section:
Tips For Caregivers And Families Of People With Dementia
On this page
A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isnt just one persons job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.
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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.
Withdrawing Because Of A Loss Of Abilities
A person with dementia may become withdrawn because of a loss of abilities caused by dementia. For example, if verbal communication becomes too much of a struggle, a person may give up on trying to communicate. Or if an individual is aware that they cannot remember peoples names or details of recent conversations they have had, it might feel easier to withdraw from further contact. Sensitive support from others will help to address these problems for example, the use of helpful communication techniques, the provision of tactful and timely reminders of forgotten information, and lots of patience and reassurance.
When a person with dementia is aware of their loss of abilities, they may develop poor self-esteem and lose confidence, which in turn could lead them to withdraw from others. The most helpful thing that care staff or family carers can do is to focus on helping the person use their strengths and abilities and start to feel better about themselves.
People with dementia may also appear to be withdrawn because damage to the frontal lobe of the brain can cause a loss of initiative. If this is the case, the person might find it hard to get going, but will often respond to gentle prompts and encouragement if someone else takes the lead.
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Tips For Home Safety For People With Dementia
As a caregiver or family member to a person with Alzheimers or related dementias, you can take steps to make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. Try these tips:
- If you have stairs, make sure there is at least one handrail. Put carpet or safety grip strips on stairs, or mark the edges of steps with brightly colored tape so they are more visible.
- Insert safety plugs into unused electrical outlets and consider safety latches on cabinet doors.
- Clear away unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other items the person may trip over.
- Make sure all rooms and outdoor areas the person visits have good lighting.
- Remove curtains and rugs with busy patterns that may confuse the person.
- Remove or lock up cleaning and household products, such as paint thinner and matches.
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
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How To Deal With Dementia Behavior Problems
- How to Deal with Dementia Behavior Problems: 19 Dos and Donts
Dementia is a disease that affects millions of people across the globe every year. It is often a highly misunderstood condition that is marred by numerous misconceptions, which make the condition difficult to understand and study.
You should know that dementia is not a name for an illness, rather it is a collective term that describes a broad range of symptoms that relate to declining of thinking, memory, and cognitive skills. These symptoms have deteriorating effects that usually affect how a patient acts and engages in the day-to-day activities.
In advanced dementia stages, affected persons may experience symptoms that bring out a decline in rational thought, intellect, social skills, memory, and normal emotional reactivity. It is something that can make them powerless when it comes to living normal, healthy lives.
Relatives, caregivers, spouses, siblings, children and anyone close to a person who has dementia need to know how to deal with behavioral problems that surface because of the illness. Examples of dementia problems may include aggressiveness, violence and oppositional behaviors. Find out some of the vital Do and Donts when dealing with a dementia patient.
Ways To Reduce And Manage Mean Dementia Behavior
1. Calm the situation downThe first thing to do is reduce the tension in the room.
Start by limiting the distractions in the room, like turning off the TV or asking others to leave.
And if you stay calm, theyre also more likely to calm down.
It might help you to count to 10 or even leave the room for a short time to cool down. Repeat to yourself its the disease as a reminder that theyre not intentionally doing this.
If the current activity seemed to cause the agitation, try shifting to a more pleasant, calming activity. Or, try soft music or a gentle massage.
2. Comfort and reassure while checking for causes of discomfort or fearTake a deep breath, dont argue, and use a calm, soothing voice to reassure and comfort your older adult.
It also helps to speak slowly and use short, direct sentences.
Then, check for possible causes of agitation or fear, like:
- Feeling disturbed by strange surroundings
- Being overwhelmed by complicated tasks
- Frustration because of the inability to communicate
It also helps to focus on their emotions rather than their specific words or actions. Look for the feelings behind what theyre doing as a way to identify the cause.
3. Keep track of and avoid possible triggersWhenever difficult behavior comes up, write down what happened, the time, and the date in a dedicated notebook.
Also think about what was going on just before the behavior started and write that down as a possible trigger.
Taking some time away can help both of you.
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Reminiscing Activities For Dementia Patients At Home
Reminiscence therapy uses sensory or visual cues from the past to help seniors reconnect with positive memories. Instead of asking direct questions that could be confusing or stressful, try gentle guidance. For example, if youre looking at childhood photos, ask generally about growing up rather than where an image was taken.
Reassure Them Of Their Safety
The desire to go home is probably the same desire anyone would have if we found ourselves in a strange and unreasonable place.
Try this instead:
Reassure the person verbally, and possibly with arm touches or hand-holding if this feels appropriate. Let the person know that they are safe.
It may help to provide reassurance that the person is still cared about. They may be living somewhere different from where they lived before, and need to know theyre cared for.
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Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:
- memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
- increasing confusion
- apathy and withdrawal or depression
- loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.
Games Puzzles And Around The Home Activities For Dementia Patients
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Activities To Do Around The House
- Make a memory book look through old pictures together and create a scrapbook.
- Water house and garden plants.
- Listen to their favorite music.
- Watch their favorite show or movie.
- Do an arts and craft project such as painting or drawing.
- Knit or crochet together.
- Cuddle, feed, or brush a household pet.
- Present an instrument the person used to play such as a piano or guitar. Play, whistle, or sing along.
- Sweep or vacuum.
Learn more about activity planning for people with Alzheimers.
Do Keep Eye Contact When Speaking
Communicating with a dementia patient requires a lot of patience, especially during later stages of dementia. It is vital to ensure that you talk in a place that has good lighting, a place that is quiet and without too many distractions. Do not try and stand over the person you are talking to, but rather try to be at their level and keep eye contact at all times. Take care to make sure that body language is relaxed and open. Prepare to spend quality time with the person so that they do not feel rushed or like they are a bother.
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Talking With A Doctor
After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:
- talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
- contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team
Do Establish A Familiar Routine
Dementia can make change more challenging. The more you can establish routines throughout day-to-day life, the more you both will know what to expect, and the smoother your days will run. To the extent possible, eat at the same time throughout the day and establish familiar bedtime routines. This will provide stability for your loved one.
With that being said, although it is super important to create these structures such as a regular schedule, it is important to also be ready to go with the flow and improvise with your loved one with dementia if they are moving at a different pace one day. If you can join them and follow where they lead you will both be much happier. This might mean eating breakfast food for dinner, wearing Christmas sweaters in June, or having a dance party in the middle of a store. Go with it, memories are being made.
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If He Or She Doesn’t Recognise Their Environment As ‘home’ At That Moment Then For That Moment It Isn’t Home
Try this instead:
Try to understand and acknowledge the feelings behind the wish to go home. Find out where ‘home’ is for them – it might not be the last place they lived. It could be where they lived before moving recently or it could be somewhere from their distant past.
Often people with dementia describe ‘home’ as a pleasant, peaceful or idyllic place where they were happy. They could be encouraged to talk about why they were happy there. This can give an idea as to what they might need to feel better.
Make Time For Reflection
At each new stage of dementia, you have to alter your expectations about what your loved one is capable of. By accepting each new reality and taking time to reflect on these changes, you can better cope with the emotional loss and find greater satisfaction in your caregiving role.
Keep a daily journal to record and reflect on your experiences. By writing down your thoughts, you can mourn losses, celebrate successes, and challenge negative thought patterns that impact your mood and outlook.
Count your blessings. It may sound counterintuitive in the midst of such challenges, but keeping a daily gratitude list can help chase away the blues. It can also help you focus on what your loved one is still capable of, rather than the abilities theyve lost.
Value what is possible. In the middle stages of dementia, your loved one still has many abilities. Structure activities to invite their participation on whatever level is possible. By valuing what your loved one is able to give, you can find pleasure and satisfaction on even the toughest days.
Improve your emotional awareness. Remaining engaged, focused, and calm in the midst of such tremendous responsibility can challenge even the most capable caregivers. By developing your emotional awareness skills, however, you can relieve stress, experience positive emotions, and bring new peace and clarity to your caretaking role.
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