Dementia

Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. With dementia, the loss of mental functions is severe enough to affect normal activities and relationships. Dementia is not a normal part of the aging process, although it is very common in elderly individuals.

What are Some Types of Dementia?

Dementia has many causes. Some dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, occur on their own and not as a result of another disease. Some dementia, such as those caused by reactions to medications or infections, are reversible with treatment.

Types of Progressive Dementia (those that worsen over time):

  • Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in people over the age of 65. Symptoms usually appear after age 60, but early-onset forms of the disease can occur, usually as the result of a defective gene. Alzheimer’s disease usually progresses slowly, over 7 to 10 years, causing a gradual decline in cognitive abilities.
  • Lewy body dementia. Dementia with Lewy bodies affects approximately 20 percent of people with dementia, making it one of the most common types of dementia. The symptoms of this dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, but its unique features often include fluctuations between confusion and clear thinking (lucidity), visual hallucinations, and Parkinson’s signs such as tremors and rigidity.
  • Vascular dementia. This is a result of damage to the brain caused by problems with the arteries serving the brain or heart. Symptoms begin suddenly, often after a stroke, and may occur in people with high blood pressure, or those who have had previous strokes or heart attacks.

Some medical conditions can lead to dementia, including Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and infections that affect the brain such as HIV/AIDS and Lyme disease.

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Inability to learn or remember new information
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Trouble with coordination and motor functions
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to reason
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations

Is Dementia Ever Reversible?

Some medical conditions can cause symptoms of dementia and are treatable (which can reverse the symptoms of dementia), so it’s important that a doctor determines the underlying cause. Some of these conditions include…

  • Reactions to medications
  • Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Infections
  • Poisoning
  • Brain Tumors

Can Dementia be Prevented?

Although there is no sure way to prevent dementia, there are steps you can take that might help, including…

  •  Keeping your mind active
  • Staying physically and socially active
  • Lowering your homocysteine levels with high doses of B vitamins
  • Lowering your cholesterol levels
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Quitting smoking
  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Pursuing mental stimulation and education opportunities
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Getting your vaccinations

How Can I Live Better with Dementia?

The following steps may help you to improve your quality of life as the disease progresses:

  • Carry a reminder calendar
  • Maintain a calm and stable home environment
  • Establish a nighttime ritual
  • Create a plan that identifies goals for care

How Our Home Care Team Can Help

Our services may include but are not limited to:

  • Supervising clients to prevent wandering
  • Giving medication reminders to prevent over (or under) utilization of prescribed medication
  • Reminding clients of toileting needs to eliminate potential accidents
  • Providing incontinence care to prevent skin problems and urinary tract infections
  • Preparing meals to maintain nutrition and prevent kitchen accidents
  • Transporting to errands and medical appointments
  • Providing social stimulation to combat loneliness and depression
  • Giving respite to family members
  • And many more!