Monday 17 September 2018
Dementia is the term given to a group of diseases that affect a persons thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. While its commonly thought of as an older persons disease, dementia can affect people of all ages.
Early symptoms of dementia can be vague and vary between people. While some people pick up on changes in their own thinking or behaviour that might be caused by dementia, sometimes these signs are first noticed by those around them.
If youve noticed a change in someone close to you, the steps below can help you assist them in seeking diagnosis and treatment.
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 .
Planning For The Future
Planning early makes it easier for someone with younger onset dementia to manage their financial, legal and medical affairs now and in the future.
If you have been diagnosed with younger onset dementia, it is important to make important decisions while you still can and while you are legally competent to sign any documents.
Things to think about include:
- your living arrangements into the future
- who can have access to your financial accounts
- having joint signatures on all financial accounts
- arranging when and how you will access your finances
- talking to a financial adviser
- sorting out superannuation, health and income insurance
- writing or updating your will
If you have been diagnosed with dementia, its important to nominate a trusted person to manage your affairs in the future. You can do this through an Enduring Power of Attorney .
A financial EPA enables a nominated person to look after your financial affairs if you become unable to do so. A medical EPA covers only medical decisions. The laws regarding EPAs vary between states and territories, so it’s important to seek legal advice before the agreement is completed, or if you are moving interstate.
Some states also have medical guardianship . This allows someone to choose a person to make medical decisions for them. For more information on guardianship and administrators, visit the My Aged Care website.
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Understanding The Connection Between Stroke And Dementia
While not every stroke survivor will experience dementia, loss of blood flow to the brain can increase the persons risk of cognitive decline.
However, by practicing cognitive rehabilitation and making certain lifestyle changes, patients can improve their symptoms and even slow vascular dementias progression.
Finally, always remember that even with post-stroke dementia, it is still possible to live a happy and fulfilling life. Although the road ahead might look difficult, its important to maintain hope.
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.
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I Knew Something Wasnt Right
My partner Rob and I bought our own place in 2007. But later that year I noticed that Jim had started to become anxious and forgetful. He would ask the same question multiple times and I knew something wasnt right. Jim was only 56 at this point.
I went with Jim to the GP, who performed memory tests. He scored poorly on them all.
The GP was concerned and sent Jim for an MRI scan, which confirmed that he had Alzheimers disease.
Jim cried his eyes out on the way home. He begged me not to put him in a care home as I had lasting power of attorney. It was an incredibly difficult time.
Jim and Steve
Recognition And Coordination Difficulties
A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places . They may have difficulty recognising familiar items such as a chair, soap, toothbrush, cutlery, kettle, coffee jar, cooker or fridge.
Signs of a loss of coordination skills can include struggling to undo or do up buttons, to tie or untie shoes and neckties, and to use a hair brush or razor. They may be more subtle, such as putting down a cup of tea too close to the edge of a table or having difficulties lifting a teapot or kettle or using a knife to cut vegetables or fruit.
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Dementia Signs And Symptoms
A long list of symptoms is associated with dementia, but many overlap with other health conditions, meaning that having some of them does not confirm that an individual is cognitively impaired.
That said, dont hesitate to consult a healthcare provider if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, which can be cognitive or psychological in nature:
- Trouble remembering new information
- Exhibiting signs of paranoia
- Exercising poor judgment
Not everyone will notice these symptoms right away, and a checklist alone cant determine if a person has a dementia-related disorder. In fact, not even a test can do so.
What Is Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease is a movement disorder. It can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid This makes it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinsons disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia.
Parkinson disease is most common in people who are older than 50. The average age at which it occurs is 60. But some younger people may also get Parkinson disease. When it affects someone younger than age 50, it’s called early-onset Parkinson disease. You may be more likely to get early-onset Parkinson disease if someone in your family has it. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing Parkinson disease. It’s also much more common in men than in women.
Parkinson disease is a chronic and progressive disease. It doesn’t go away and continues to get worse over time.
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What Is Younger Onset Dementia
Younger onset dementia is used to describe any form of dementia that develops in people under the age of 65. Dementia has been diagnosed in people in their 50s, 40s and even in their 30s. It is sometimes called early onset dementia.
Younger onset dementia is similar to other types of dementia in many ways. The same problems generally occur, but the disease can have a different impact on a younger person because they are more likely to be employed full time, raising a family or financially responsible for a family.
Loss Of Daily Life Skills
A home that may not be as well kept as usual may be a sign that the person living there has dementia. They may lose the ability to do many of the things they normally do themselves, such as preparing meals, household chores and eating and drinking properly.
They may also struggle to maintain their personal hygiene and getting dressed. Deciding what to wear, how to put things on and in the right order may become increasingly difficult. Getting around the house without walking into furniture and other items may also be a problem.
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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.
Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s
Dr. Mitchell says, “Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases. Dementia is a general term for symptoms that occur when cognitive functions, such as memory and decision-making, are impaired. Alzheimer’s affects the regions of the brain responsible for learning and memory explicitly. The disease progresses slowly, starting with mild forgetfulness and eventually leading to complete loss of cognitive function. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatments can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, and it cannot be prevented. However, some risk factors may increase your chances of developing the disease. These include age, family history, and genetics. If you have one or more of these risk factors, it does not mean that you will necessarily develop Alzheimer’s. However, it is essential to be aware of the risks so that you can take steps to protect your cognitive health. You can do many things to keep your mind sharp as you age, such as eating a healthy diet, staying active, and challenging your brain with new experiences. By understanding the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s, you can take steps to protect your brain.”
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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.
How Can A Stroke Cause Dementia
To understand how a stroke can cause dementia, lets look at the connection between the brain, the arteries, and a stroke.
A stroke occurs when the supply of blood in the brain becomes disrupted by either a clogged or burst artery. When brain cells do not receive enough blood, they are deprived of oxygen and other essential nutrients, which can lead to brain damage. For this reason, a stroke requires swift medical attention to restore normal blood flow in the brain and save the persons life.
The health of your arteries has a direct impact on your risk of stroke. When blood can flow freely through clear arteries, the risk of stroke is low. The risk of stroke increases when arteries become narrowed or damaged from conditions like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
But how can a stroke cause dementia? When a stroke causes damage to the brain, it can cause a variety of secondary effects including vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia occurs when the brain does not receive enough blood and thus causes damage to cognitive functions such as memory and problem-solving.
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What Causes Younger Onset Dementia
Many different types of dementia can affect younger people. Each type has its own symptoms and is caused by a specific type of change in the brain. Some causes of early onset dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease
- problems with blood flow to the brain
- deterioration to the front part of the brain
- chronic overuse of alcohol over many years
Finding A Huge Gap In Services And Supports For Younger People
âI unfortunately ran into that brick wall where I was ineligible for just about everything because of my age.â â Faye.
Most social programs and services are designed for older people with dementia. In comparison, the number of programs designed for people living with young onset dementia is sparse.
People living with young onset dementia may not find the programs intended for older adults interesting or beneficial in respect to their needs. They may not feel comfortable in a seniorsâ program. And even if they were interested and comfortable in joining a program, they might be ineligible because of their age!
We have a gap in our knowledge about young onset dementia. As a result, there simply aren’t enough information, support, financial aid and services adapted for younger people living with dementia.
However, this is changing. The Young Onset Gap Analysis Project, initiated through the National Information Support and Education Committee and the Alzheimer Society of Canada , explored the gaps of available learning and support resources for people living with young onset dementia, and sought advice and feedback from those with lived experience.
The information from this report is being used to develop new resources dedicated to education and support for people living with young onset dementia, families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
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What Is The Risk Of Vascular Dementia After Stroke
Vascular dementia could be caused by a stroke or other conditions that impact the supply of blood in the brain, such as poor circulation.
A persons risk of post-stroke dementia increases with the number of strokes they experience. For example, a large study of over 5,000 stroke survivors found that the rate of vascular dementia was around 9% in those who had only suffered one stroke. In those who had experienced more than one stroke, however, the rate increased to 25%. The risk of vascular dementia also increases with age.
Because a stroke is a vascular disease that impacts the arteries, the same factors that increase the risk of stroke also increase the risk of vascular dementia. This means that conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol all increase the risk of vascular dementia.
Not all strokes cause vascular dementia, though. Every stroke is different and every person experiences different effects following a stroke. For example, a massive stroke may cause paralysis while very mild strokes may not cause any noticeable secondary effects at all.
However, just because a person does not experience many effects after a stroke does not mean they wont develop vascular dementia. The best way to reduce the risk of vascular dementia is to improve the health of your arteries and blood flow by managing any vascular diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
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How Do You Make The Kitchen Safe For Dementia
Are you worried about kitchen safety for your loved one with dementia? This article will focus on tips for getting a dementia-friendly kitchen for your loved ones.
Making your kitchen safe for dementia starts by casting a critical eye around it with your loved one to identify kitchen hazards, areas that can confuse, or potential safety risks as dementia progresses.
You can do several things to make the kitchen safe for dementia. You can declutter, reinforce routines, add safety devices, improve lightning & kitchen colours, remove flooring hazards like rugs, add signage, work on the line of sight, add adaptive equipment etc. Someone with dementia should be able to continue to use the kitchen safely by making these adjustments.
It doesnt mean doing everything at once. It means looking at what needs to change now. However, the sooner you make the changes, the sooner someone can adapt.
Lets go through these tips to help you make your kitchen safe for dementia.
Tips to make the Kitchen Safe for Dementia
Disproportionate Impact On Women
Globally, dementia has a disproportionate impact on women. Sixty-five percent of total deaths due to dementia are women, and disability-adjusted life years due to dementia are roughly 60% higher in women than in men. Additionally, women provide the majority of informal care for people living with dementia, accounting for 70% of carer hours.
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