When Someone You Love Has Alzheimer Disease
You might feel sad or angry or both if someone you love has Alzheimer disease. You might feel nervous around the person, especially if he or she is having trouble remembering important things or can no longer take care of himself or herself.
You might not want to go visit the person, even though your mom or dad wants you to. You are definitely not alone in these feelings. Try talking with a parent or another trusted adult. Just saying what’s on your mind might help you feel better. You also may learn that the adults in your life are having struggles of their own with the situation.
If you visit a loved one who has Alzheimer disease, try to be patient. He or she may have good days and bad days. It can be sad if you can’t have fun in the same ways together. Maybe you and your grandmother liked to go to concerts. If that’s no longer possible, maybe bring her some wonderful music and listen together. It’s a way to show her that you care and showing that love is important, even if her memory is failing.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Late Or Severe Dementia
- Worsening of symptoms seen in early and intermediate dementia
- Complete dependence on others for activities of daily living
- May be unable to walk or move from place to place unassisted
- Impairment of other movements such as swallowing: Increases risk of malnutrition, choking, and aspiration
- Complete loss of short- and long-term memory: May be unable to recognize even close relatives and friends
- Complications: Dehydration, malnutrition, problems with bladder control, infections, aspiration, seizures, pressure sores, injuries from accidents or falls
The person may not be aware of these problems, especially the behavior problems. This is especially true in the later stages of dementia.
Depression in elderly people can cause dementia-like symptoms. About 40% of people with dementia are also depressed. Common symptoms of depression include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, withdrawal from others, sleep disturbances, weight gain or loss, suicidal thoughts, feelings of worthlessness, and loss of ability to think clearly or concentrate.
People with irreversible or untreated dementia present a slow, gradual decline in mental functions and movements over several years. Total dependence and death, often from infection, are the last stages.
What Is The Treatment For Symptoms And Complications Of Dementia
Some symptoms and complications of dementia can be relieved by medical treatment, even if no treatment exists for the underlying cause of the dementia.
- Behavioral disorders may improve with individualized therapy aimed at identifying and changing specific problem behaviors.
- Mood swings and emotional outbursts may be treated with mood-stabilizing drugs.
- Agitation and psychosis may be treated with antipsychotic medication or, in some cases, anticonvulsants.
- Seizures usually require anticonvulsant medication.
- Sleeplessness can be treated by changing certain habits and, in some cases, by taking medication.
- Bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics.
- Dehydration and malnutrition may be treated with rehydration and supplements or with behavioral therapies.
- Aspiration, pressure sores, and injuries can be prevented with appropriate care.
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Medical Causes Of Sleeping Problems In Dementia
Sleeping problems may be caused by physiological or medical causes including:
- brain damage that affects the biological clock in the brain that directs our sleep patterns
- illness such as angina, congestive heart failure, diabetes or ulcers
- pain caused by conditions such as arthritis
- urinary tract infections that cause a frequent need to urinate
- leg crampsor restless legs, which can indicate a metabolic problem
- depressionthat causes early morning wakening and an inability to get back to sleep
- side effects of medication, such as antidepressants and diuretics
- snoring and sleep apnoea
- ageing that causes sleep patterns to change so that some people need more sleep and some need less.
Things you can try include:
At What Point Do Dementia Patients Need 24 Hour Care
When living at home is no longer an option There may come a time when the person living with Alzheimers disease or dementia will need more care than can be provided at home. During the middle stages of Alzheimers, it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep the person with dementia safe.
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Are There Any Exceptions
While some dementia patients eat too little, others overeat. Some dementia patients may eat too much food at a time or consume meals too often.
Its also possible for patients to demonstrate excessive eating and other related eating behavioral changes because of changes in their dietary preferences.
They may even be obsessed with certain foods.
Joining The Quest: Studies Looking At The Link Between Dementia And Walking Difficulties
Dementia can damage the brain in various ways and this includes mobility and motor skills. For people who are at risk, the exploratory studies around gait impairment as an early indicator for dementia, hold so much promise. With experts looking at changes in walking patterns and gait impairments as an early indicator of neurodegenerative diseases, private ventures are joining the research.
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Medical teams can intervene earlier with digital technology.
Early detection is crucial in improving the patients quality of life. However, the opportunity to detect dementia in its early stages is not always possible. Why? Most of the early symptoms of dementia such as forgetfulness or losing track of time are often relegated as age-related memory changes. Moreover, such impaired cognitive functions manifest gradually. Thus, by the time of diagnosis, dementia has already progressed. At this point, the patient has become totally dependent on others for self-care. With experts looking at the link between dementia and walking, we may soon have a better way of catching this debilitating disease in its early stages.
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Environmental Causes Of Sleeping Problems In Dementia
The environment of the person with dementia can cause sleeping problems in a number of ways including:
- The bedroom may be too hot or too cold.
- Poor lighting may cause the person to become disoriented.
- The person may not be able to find the bathroom.
- Changes in the environment, such as moving to a new home or having to be hospitalised, can cause disorientation and confusion.
Things you can try include:
- Keep the environment as consistent as possible.
- Check whether the person is too hot or cold when they wake up, because dementia can affect the bodys internal thermostat.
- Provide adequate lighting if shadows, glare or poor lighting are contributing to agitation and hallucinations.
- Move the mirror in the bedroom if the person becomes confused when they do not recognise their own reflection or the reflection of others in the room.
- Install night-lights that might help cut down on confusion at night and may help the person to find the bathroom.
- Place a commode next to the bed if finding the bathroom is a problem.
- Make sure the bed and bedroom are comfortable and familiar, because familiar objects may help to orient the person.
- Avoid having daytime clothing in view at night, because this may make the person think it is time to get up.
- Make sure that the person is getting enough exercise try taking one or two walks each day.
How Dementia Changes Our Thinking Skills
Everyone agrees that people experiencing dementia are often unreasonable. But whether Im teaching families or professional caregivers, I rarely find anyone in the audience who understands that because dementia takes away our rational thinking skills, expecting people to use them and be reasonable or rational is no different than expecting someone who is blind to see or deaf to hear. Please think about this for a moment: if Ive lost my ability to use reasoning, why would it be helpful to explain to me why I should do;something?
It is also rare that I find someone who understands that we all have two separate and complete thinkingsystemsand that only the secondary one is lost to;dementia.
Yes, the rational thinking skills we lose to dementia comprise our secondary thinking system, not our primary thinking system. Our primary thinking system is our intuitive thinking skills. Its misleading to think of this complex and essential set of skills as intuition. These thinking skills provide us with the broad and unfiltered data that our rational thinking skills sort to help us make sense of the world around us. Without our intuitive thinking skills, our rational thinking skills would have nothing to work with and we could not;function.
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How To Deal With Sundowning
Watching a loved one becoming irritated, upset, hyperactive or demonstrate other behavioural problems can be distressing, but its important to remember that they are not in control of their actions. There are also lots of things you can try to minimise sundowning symptoms. Every person with dementia is unique, and it may take a while to find out what works best for your loved one. Keeping a detailed diary of your loved ones behaviour can be a useful way of identifying triggers and managing symptoms.
Maintain a positive routine
The most important thing to do is to ensure that your loved one has a routine tailored around sundowning behaviour to eliminate it as far as possible. To this end, it is helpful to draw up a timetable or schedule, ensuring that busy activities and outings are arranged for the morning when your loved one is feeling at their best. Once you have a routine in place, its essential to stick to it.
During the afternoon, try to engage your loved one in calming activities that dont require too much thought. The aim is to undertake simple and engaging activities at this time, ones that arent too stimulating. Make sure that any clutter is tidied away, as this can cause aggravation later in the day.
Raising your voice or becoming angry will only worsen the situation, so try to remain calm, no matter what the provocation. Speak in clear sentences, dont try to rationalise with them and keep reassuring them that everything is ok.
While At Home What Can I Do To Help My Loved One With Symptoms Of Dementia
Many people with dementia in the early and intermediate stages are able to live independently.
- With regular checks by a local relative or friend, they are able to live without constant supervision.
- Those who have difficulty with activities of daily living require at least part-time help from a family caregiver or home health aide.
- Visiting nurses can make sure that these individuals take their medications as directed.
- Housekeeping help is available for those who cannot keep up with household chores.
Other affected individuals require closer supervision or more constant assistance.
- Round-the-clock help in the home is available, but it is too expensive for many.
- Individuals who require this level of assistance may need to move from their home to the home of a family caregiver or to an assisted-living facility.
- Many families prefer these options because they give the individual the greatest possible independence and quality of life.
For individuals who are able to remain at home or to retain some degree of independent living, maintaining a familiar and safe environment is important.
Individuals with dementia should remain physically, mentally, and socially active.
A balanced diet that includes low-fat protein foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents malnutrition and constipation. An individual with dementia should not smoke, both for health and for safety reasons. As a caregiver, make sure to take care of yourself.
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Will These Problems Get Worse
Many people with dementia will have problems called psychotic symptoms. They might believe things that are not real. They also might see, hear, or feel things that are not real. They might argue with you if you try to reason with them.
Many people with these problems get upset and say they want to go home, even if they are already in their own house. Sometimes they might tell you that they are going to visit someone who has died.
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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What Medications Are Available To Treat Dementia
Drugs approved for the most common form of dementia, Alzheimers disease, are discussed below. These drugs are also used to treat people with some of the other forms of dementia.
- cholinesterase inhibitors
- NMDA receptor antagonist memantine
These two classes of drugs affect different chemical processes in the brain. Both classes have been shown to provide some benefit in improving or stabilizing memory function in some patients. Although none of these drugs appear to stop the progression of the underlying disease, they may slow it down.
If other medical conditions are causing dementia or co-exist with dementia, the appropriate drugs used to treat those specific conditions are prescribed.
What Are The Signs Of End Stage Dementia
Experts suggest that signs of the final stage of Alzheimers disease include some of the following:Being unable to move around on ones own.Being unable to speak or make oneself understood.Needing help with most, if not all, daily activities, such as eating and self-care.Eating problems such as difficulty swallowing.May 6, 2021
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Rummaging And Hiding Things
Caring for a patient who rummages around or hides things in the home can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
|Rummaging/hiding things behavior management|
|Lock certain rooms or cabinets to protect their contents, and lock up all valuables.|
|Have mail delivered out of reach of your loved oneperhaps to a post office box.|
|If items do disappear, learn the persons preferred hiding places.|
|Restrict access to trashcans, and check all wastebaskets before disposing of their contents in case objects have been hidden there.|
|Protecting your loved one from harm|
|Prevent access to unsafe substances, such as cleaning products, alcohol, firearms, power tools, sharp knives, and medications.|
|Block unused electrical outlets with childproofing devices. Hide stove knobs so the person cant turn on the burners.|
|Lower the temperature on water heaters.|
|Designate a special drawer of items that the person can safely play with when keen to rummage.|
Following A Partner Or Carer Around
Dementia makes people feel insecure and anxious. They may “shadow” their partner or carer as they need constant reassurance they’re not alone and they’re safe.
They may also ask for people who died many years ago, or ask to go home without realising they’re in their own home.
- have the person with you if you’re doing chores such as ironing or cooking
- reassure them that they’re safe and secure if they’re asking to go home
- avoid telling them someone died years ago and talk to them about that period in their life instead
Aggressive Behaviour In Dementia
In the later stages of dementia, some people with dementia will develop what’s known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia .
The symptoms of BPSD can include:
- increased agitation
These types of behaviours are very distressing for the carer and for the person with dementia.
It’s very important to ask your doctor to rule out or treat any underlying causes, such as:
- uncontrolled pain
- infection, such as a urinary tract infection
- side effects of medicines
If the person you’re caring for behaves in an aggressive way, try to stay calm and avoid confrontation. You may have to leave the room for a while.
If none of the coping strategies works, an antipsychotic medicine can be prescribed as a short-term treatment. This should be prescribed by a consultant psychiatrist.
What Are The Warning Signs That Life Is Nearing An End
When an elderly person with dementia is almost bearing their end, it can be very traumatic especially for the loved ones. It is important to have an idea of what signs one needs to expect when the end comes as this can give you some sort of comfort.
When you think of a condition such as Alzheimers disease, a person can live for over 10 years with it. It is possible to make the person happy over those years. Since we are not immortals, at some point life does come to an end when you have dementia and it is something that one needs to be prepared for especially if they are caregivers.
Handling the final stage of dementia is much easier, especially when you are aware of the things that you should expect. It is important to give the person the kind of care that will award him or her dignified and peaceful death.
Usually, when a person is about to reach the end, the dementia symptoms usually get worse and this can be quite upsetting. Some of the things that you may notice include:
- Limited mobility so they may have to be bed bound
- Limited speech or no speech at all
- Double incontinence
- Difficulties swallowing and eating
It is important to note that the above symptoms do not really mean that the person will just die. There are people who can have such symptoms for quite some time. You should also remember that about two-thirds of dementia patients succumb to other ailments such as pneumonia.
Some of the other signs that can indicate that death is indeed close include:
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