Understanding And Getting Help With Dementia
Do you have a loved one about whom you are concerned? They have changed, slowly and progressively, unnoticeably, or overnight from the person you know. You are worried it could be dementia. This article will help you determine if your loved one has dementia or some other condition that can be cured.
1What Is, and Isn’t, Dementia
Dementia involves brain cell damage, which hampers the cells from communicating with one another. This affects emotion, thinking, and behavior. Damage and symptoms gradually worsen.
Diagnosing dementia involves an elaborate process of lab testing, taking a detailed medical history, and an assessment of how the patient has altered in emotion, thinking, and behavior. If doctors are still unsure, they may refer the person to a specialist. This could be a physician, psychiatrist, neurologist, or someone who works with the elderly.
Some common signs start to happen ahead of reaching a state or diagnosis of dementia. They are an inability to concentrate, loss of memory, confusion with tasks that were handled competently before, getting appointment dates and times muddled up, forgetting to pay bills, mood alteration, difficulty in finding the correct word for something, and losing the thread of a conversation. Some of these cases do improve, but most progress towards full dementia with symptoms getting worse.
Many other conditions can be mistaken for dementia. While dementia is a lifelong illness, there are several ailments that seem similar but respond to treatment and disappear. Some common ailments in this category are deficiencies in vitamins and/or minerals, over-or underactive thyroid, depression, over-consumption of alcohol, as a side effect of medicine, and a stressful event.
In a case of confusion that comes on suddenly, the first culprit is usually dehydration. Other possibilities are an infection, combining medicines and alcohol, or having skipped meals. Losing a loved one or close friend may result in increased blood pressure, exhaustion, and even hallucinations. Experiencing a major stressor, such as moving house, or suffering from depression can have similar effects. Eyes and ears deteriorate with age and may affect a person’s ability to engage in and follow a conversation or cause them to seem to misplace things. More serious medical conditions may include a reduction in organ or gland function, strokes, and hypertension.
Dementia is the overarching term for the changes in behavior, thinking processes (including loss of memory), and emotions and their expression that typically occur in older people. It covers various other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s which makes up between two thirds to four-fifths of cases of dementia, vascular dementia, front-to-temporal Dementia, and Lewy Body Dementia, each five to ten percent with the balance made up of various conditions like Multiple Sclerosis Huntington’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, and less-known conditions like Leukoencephalopathies (it affects the white matter of the brain), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a fatal condition), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and brain damage from Syphilis. Mixed Dementia occurs when a person has more than one dementia condition.
Dementia should not be confused with aging. The latter is a normal process and people can retain their full faculties to the end.
Dementia presents with common cognitive symptoms such as the early signs mentioned above. Additionally, their conception of space may alter so that the person gets lost easily, struggles to communicate, becomes unreasonable or illogical, complex tasks become unmanageable, difficulty problem-solving, coordination problems, loss of motor skills, and an inability to plan.
Some psychological and social changes are also found in dementia. Memory loss is generally the first symptom to manifest. Depression, anxiety, agitation, and paranoia occur. The person may also hallucinate. Finally, the individual may exhibit inappropriate behavior, such as taking clothes off in company and undergo a personality change.
3Getting Assistance with Dementia
Although you may suspect a loved one has dementia, take a step back and consider alternatives. Take the time to talk to the person to find out if they have recently lost someone or experienced an incident of stress. The person may be lonely, anxious, or depressed without having dementia. Very often, the elderly have fewer social activities and spend most of their days alone. If this is a parent, you may want to discuss care options with your family and your mom or dad. Sometimes bringing them into your home will alleviate loneliness and give your parent a greater sense of purpose and belonging. Or perhaps they would fare better in a home with their peers around them and a chance to make new friendships.
However, if you are unable to discover a cause and the symptoms continue, it is time for an appointment with the person’s doctor. Before making a diagnosis, the doctor will run some tests to rule out other possibilities and may recommend a specialist. Once the diagnosis comes back you will want to make sure that your loved one is provided with the best possible care. This includes nutritious meals and activities that are geared towards stimulating the brain and delaying the advance of the disease.
If you and your family are unable to provide the care a parent with dementia needs, you may have to look into assisted care. There are many advantages to staying in a familiar environment, such as not feeling out-of-place or overwhelmed, having favorite items at hand that are comforting, and being able to receive guests at home in a more established setting. You could consider getting in a carer to provide daily care-taking. A live-in nurse or assistant who understands dementia and the needs of the person can be a suitable solution.
However, if this is not possible, the next step is finding a facility that provides assisted living. One option is Brandycare, an assisted living Haddonfield NJ facility. If you are looking for a suitable spot for a family member with dementia, then a facility like this can help.
Dementia is, unfortunately, a lifelong condition that can happen to a loved one. Although it cannot be cured, the right care can slow the damage down and increase the quality time you have to spend with the sufferer.