What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease To Progress So Quickly
The progression of Alzheimers disease varies widely between individuals, with most people living with the condition for between 3 and 11 years after the initial diagnosis. In some cases, people may survive for more than 20 years. When Alzheimers is detected early, there are possible treatments that can help to slow the progression of the disease and contribute to a longer life expectancy.
It is therefore crucial to plan for the future and follow the progression of the disease through each stage. Alzheimers disease first begins with physical changes in the brain. This can happen at a gradual pace before any noticeable symptoms appear. In fact, this pre-clinical Alzheimers disease stage can begin 10 to 15 years before any symptoms appear.
How Dementia Causes Death
A person in the late stage of dementia is at risk for many medical complications. Because they’re unable to move, they’re especially high risk for certain conditions.
In the end, most people with late-stage dementia die from underlying dementia or a related complication. For example:
- A person may die from an infection like aspiration pneumonia. If someone has trouble swallowing, food or liquids may go down the wrong tube. Instead of going into the esophagus or stomach, it’s breathed into the airways or lungs. This leads to a type of pneumonia called aspiration pneumonia.
- Another person may die from a blood clot in the lung because they are bedbound and not mobile.
It’s important to know that late-stage dementia is a terminal illness and can lead to death. In these cases, the death certificate may list dementia as the cause of death.
What Should I Do If A Person With Dementia Is Sleeping A Lot
If the person is in the later stages of dementia and they have gradually started sleeping more and more, it is likely to be due to the dementia progressing.
However, if the excessive sleeping has started more suddenly, or the person doesnt seem well in other ways, it may have another cause.
If this is the case you should speak to the GP, to rule out any infections or conditions that could be affecting the person’s sleep.
It may also be worth asking for a medication review with the GP or speaking to a pharmacist as medication can cause a range of side effects.
If the person is sleeping a lot but it isnt having a negative impact on them it is often best to just go with it and make sure they are comfortable.
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Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
There is a great misunderstanding about the difference between dementia and Alzheimers disease. The reason for the confusion may come from the fact that both conditions target a patients memory and thought process. Let us help you clear things out by describing each degenerative issue.
Dementia is the main form of a mental syndrome that affects a persons memory and way of thinking. It is a syndrome because it is difficult to diagnose, but a cluster of symptoms define it.
Alzheimers disease, on the other hand, is the main cause of dementia. This degenerative and irreversible condition targets the brain as it damages the brain cells that affect a persons memory, behavior, thought process, and even wake/sleep cycle.
So simply put, all Alzheimers patients have dementia, but not all patients with dementia have Alzheimers.
How Does Sleep Affect Dementia Risk
Experts suggest that sleep and dementia may share a bidirectional relationship. This means that while sleep could affect dementia risk and symptoms, the presence or absence of dementia also affects sleep quality. For example, one of the first Alzheimers disease symptoms in the brain is the accumulation of a protein called amyloid-beta, which eventually forms clumps called amyloid plaques. Animal studies and a small study in people have shown sleep deprivation to increase the levels of amyloid-beta in the brain. At the same time, Alzheimers patients with amyloid plaques have been shown to have worse sleep quality than Alzheimers patients who do not have amyloid plaques.
Additionally, sleep is known to be critical for our cognitive functioning and memory formation. Observational studies have shown that sleep issues are associated with cognitive decline and dementia. However, these studies do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Although more research is needed to better understand sleep and dementia risk, there are many proven steps you can take to improve your sleep.
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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.
How Can Healthcare Professionals Help At This Stage
Healthcare professionals can explain these changes so you understand what is happening.
Healthcare professionals can also take steps to reduce the persons pain or distress, often using medication.
If the person cant swallow, then medication can be provided through patches on the skin, small injections or syringe pumps that provide a steady flow of medication through a small needle under the persons skin. Speak to a GP or another health professional about this.
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Why Do Dementia Patients Not Sleep
Dementia experts arent exactly sure why dementia patients dont sleep well at night. However, there are some potential causes for sleep problems in elderly adults with dementia.
A good practice is to monitor your loved one and keep a journal to help track different habits and changes.
Here are some of the top causes of elderly adults with dementia not sleeping at night.
Sleeping All The Time
karaokePete said:Sleeping a lot is very common.The brain gets tired from the exertion of trying to cope with the confusion of everyday life and age and medication probably also play a part. This is above and beyond any sudden change that may be brought on by an infection.My wife would sleep all day if I let her.
What Sleep Disorders Are Common In Alzheimers Patients
Having trouble falling and staying asleep, waking up too early, or getting poor quality sleep are hallmark symptoms of insomnia, which is common in people with Alzheimers. Other sleep disorders most often seen in this population include the following:
Additionally, sundowning is a common phenomenon in which people with Alzheimers disease experience an increase in symptoms such as confusion, anxiety, and irritability late in the day. It tends to begin around the time the sun sets and can last into the night, affecting sleep. Although the exact cause is unknown, sundowning may be due to disrupted circadian rhythm and/or due to fatigue caused by sleep loss.
My Dad Has Dementia And Is Moving Into Residential Care Are There Any Care Homes With Dementia Units
Yes, there are. These residential units will allow your dad to live in a home environment with the benefit of trained staff on hand to help care for him. It may also be worth considering finding a care home in the right location to enable friends and family to visit regularly. This may be more fitting for your dad and ease the transition.
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They Wake Up A Lot During The Night To Use The Loo And I’m Worried They May Get Lost Or Confused Should I Wake Up Too To Help Them
It is normal that older people will need to use the loo more often during the night. This can be difficult if a person also has dementia as they might forget why they’re up, where the toilet is or that they should go back to bed. Start by looking at your parents drinking and eating habits. If they are eating and drinking large amounts in the evening this will increase the need for them to visit the toilet. Limit their intake from late afternoon and enjoy a main meal at lunch. Next make the route to and from the toilet as clear as possible by using signs and plug-in nightlights. Try using pictures if it helps. It might also help to make the lights in the bathroom motion activated for when they get there. If you are still worried or you find they still get lost, it may be that you will have to help them. A monitor or bed-exit sensor will help you to wake up when you need to.
What You Can Do For Your Loved One
As an individual with dementia declines, you can help them by providing a loving and supportive presence. Sit with them. Hold their hand. Play music they enjoy.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one is helping to get their affairs in order. Ensure that financial and healthcare powers of attorney are put in place, so you can make decisions when your loved one is no longer able. Look into funeral arrangements before you need them, so you dont need to make important decisions in a time of crisis.
Talk to your loved ones physician about the possibility of palliative care support in the home and hospice care when your loved one is ready.
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Sleep And Brain Glymphatic System In Ad
Recent reports indicate an important relation between disrupted sleep, brain glymphatic system and AD . For instance, glymphatic system consists of para-vascular channels located around blood vessels of the brain. CSF flows along para-arterial space, reaches the capillary bed and penetrates into the brain parenchyma, where it gets mixed with interstitial fluid and after collecting metabolic waste it is moved to para-venous space and then to cervical lymphatic vessels . Thus, it can be stated that glymphatic system acts like the lymphatic system in the other body organs.
As A clearance is impaired in both early and late forms of AD , it can be assumed that there is a link between impaired glymphatic system function and AD. Experiments in animal and humans revealed diurnal oscillation of the A level in the brain interstitial fluid . Indeed, as endogenous neuronal activity influences the regional concentration of the A in the interstitial fluid , decreased neuronal activity in some stages of sleep may cause the oscillations of the A concentrations. Slow wave sleep with periodic neuronal hyperpolarization and diminished neuronal firing in some brain regions can be associated with decreased A production . Thus, altered sleep quality might contribute to the onset and progression of the AD both through impaired glymphatic clearance and disturbances in the A production in case of disordered slow wave sleep.
How To Diagnose The Sleep Problems Of A Person With Dementia
Like many problems that affect older adults, sleep problems in dementia are almost always multifactorial, which means that there are usually several underlying issues creating the problem.
Multifactorial problems can be improved, especially if a family and the doctors are diligent about trying to identify as many contributing factors as possible. But youll need to start by helping the doctors understand what kinds of sleep-related symptoms and problems a loved one is experiencing.
Here is a list of questions that a group of geriatrics experts recommends, for evaluating sleep problems.
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Why Do Alzheimers Patients Struggle With Sleep
Changes in sleep quality and duration in older age are common. However, the sleep concerns seen in people with Alzheimers are often more severe and complex. There may be a reciprocal relationship between sleep issues and the other symptoms of Alzheimers. This means that sleep loss can worsen other symptoms, such as delusions, restlessness, and wandering, which can, in turn, make sleeping more difficult.
Getting enough sleep and spending sufficient time in deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep are necessary in order for preservation of memories to occur. Memory loss is the primary symptom in people living with Alzheimers, and compared to older adults without the disease, Alzheimers patients spend progressively less time in deep sleep and REM sleep.
People with Alzheimers experience dramatic changes to their sleep-wake cycle. The sleep-wake cyclealso called circadian rhythmis the internal clock in our body that initiates physical processes related to wake and sleep. When this cycle is disturbed in Alzheimers patients, the result is not sleeping at night and sleeping too much during the day. Researchers attribute circadian rhythm disruption in Alzheimers patients, at least in part, to cellular changes in the brain caused by the disease. Dysregulated production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, in patients with Alzheimers may play a role. Other possible factors include decreased physical activity and less natural light exposure.
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Nutrients To Aid Sleep
Nutrients at night-time such as melatonin can aid a deeper and better quality nights sleep. Such nutrients can also help ensure a person is getting important vitamins which can become depleted when eating a balanced diet becomes problematic. Always check with your parents GP that any supplements or nutrients you buy wont interact with current medication.
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If you are finding it particularly hard to help someone with dementia with their sleep, and its affecting your ability to care for an elderly relative, it may be a good idea to share some of the care responsibilities with a live-in carer, like those found on our best live-in care companies page.
Sleep Aids For Dementia Patients
Sleep inducing medications can cause negative side effects in dementia patients. These include worsened cognition and an increased risk of falling. Therefore, recommended sleep aids for people living with dementia are non-drug based and aim to improve sleep routine and the sleeping environment. You can find a full list of dementia products on our dementia products page.
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What Can Help Someone With Dementia Sleep Better
Sleep hygiene is the primary treatment for sleep concerns in people with dementia. Sleep hygiene is a collection of practices and environmental considerations that promote good sleep quality. The following sleep hygiene tips may help a person with dementia improve their sleep patterns:
Some of these sleep hygiene practices may be difficult for someone with dementia. For example, it may not be possible to control the bedroom noise level in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Consider adding a white noise machine to mask outside noise. A person with dementia may also have a difficult time maintaining a regular bedtime due to napping or varied daily activities, but keeping wake time consistent can still help to stabilize the circadian rhythm. A physician or sleep specialist is in a good position to provide individualized sleep hygiene recommendations for a specific situation.
Signs Of Dying In The Elderly With Dementia
Dementia is a general term for a chronic or persistent decline in mental processes including memory loss, impaired reasoning, and personality changes. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases of dementia. It is also the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and over 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimers disease.
Alzheimers disease and most progressive dementias do not have a cure. While the disease inevitably worsens over time, that timeline can vary greatly from one patient to the next.
Caring for a loved one can be challenging and stressful, as the individuals personality changes and cognitive function declines. They may even stop recognizing their nearest and dearest friends and relatives. As dementia progresses, the individual will require more and more care. As a family caregiver, its important to be able to recognize the signs of dying in elderly with dementia. Hospice can help by offering care wherever the individual resides, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to the patient and support their family.
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