More than 860,000 people in the UK are suffering from dementia and this figure is predicted to rise to more than a million by the end of 2025. It is even expected that 225,000 people will develop dementia in 2019 where 1 person will be diagnosed with this neurodegenerative disease every 3 minutes. Dementia is actually an umbrella term for a degenerative and progressive brain disease and it has more than 200 subtypes. The different kinds of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, mixed dementia and frontotemporal dementia.
The human brain comprises of multiple nerve cells which are called neurones and these cells send messages as a means of communicating with people. Dementia usually damages the nerve cells of the brain and this means that the messages can’t be sent to the brain in a proper manner, thereby preventing the entire body from functioning in a way it should. This is when dementia occurs.
Dementia And Its Impact On Your Daily Life – How It Affects Your Healthy Living
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has an impact on ADL or Activities of Daily Living, thereby making it tough for the patients of this disease to complete normal everyday activities which are often taken for granted like laundry washing, bathing, cleaning etc. If you’re someone who is providing in home dementia care Sydney, you need to understand that not everyone who suffers from this disease will look unkempt and dishevelled. The various stages (usually 7) will alter the ways in which a person can complete his daily tasks.
Due to the fact that dementia is a progressive disease of the brain, it transfers messages to and fro the brain and these messages play the key role in executing everyday activities which are often considered as mundane. Let’s take a look at the few functions which are hampered by dementia.
- Judgment & Attention
As the signals that are sent to the brain are damaged, attention, judgment and making decisions become extremely tough for the person. Decisions like turning on the heater during the chilly winter season or deciding to visit a shop at midnight become difficult to take. This kind of judgment issues can become precarious for the person who is suffering and also for his caregivers. The person in question may suddenly leave his home at the middle of the night and wander at places only to get lost.
- Executive Functioning
Dementia also has a core impact on the executive functioning of a person thereby making it extremely challenging for a person to perform various simple jobs. Getting dressed and taking a shower will all become huge tasks for the person. Every job has got a series of steps and when someone suffers from dementia, he can confuse the steps. This is why it is not uncommon to see people wearing underwear over their pants. This progressive disease hampers the ability of the brain to organise and plan different step-by-step activities.
- Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms
There are many family members who find that the behavior of the person with dementia has suddenly changed in a havoc manner during the later stages of this disease. There might arise few instances where the person in question will resist any kind of assistance or help for performing complex tasks. In home personal care services from professional carers may sometimes help solve this difficulty.
- Memory Problems
Memory loss is yet another renowned signs of dementia and this particular disease can affect both the short-term and long-term memory of the person in question. From forgetting what you had for breakfast to forgetting the name of someone known to forgetting where you come from; there are several basic things that the person might forget. Few ADL tasks like cleaning your teeth or wearing fresh and clean clothes can also be forgotten. This is when you require the assistance of a live-in carer who can help you remember things and enjoy the freedom of staying at home.
Do Memory Issues Always Mean You’re Suffering From Alzheimer’s?
There are many who are extremely concerned about their habit of forgetfulness. They always keep worrying that forgetfulness is the first symptom of suffering from Alzheimer’s. But you need to know that everyone suffering from memory issues is not suffering from Alzheimer’s. There are several other reasons for memory issues like aging, emotional issues, medical reasons or even slight cognitive impairment. Let’s take a detailed look into these reasons.
- Memory Issues Due to Age
Forgetfulness can be considered as a normal and inevitable part of aging. With age, there are noteworthy changes in all parts of human body and brain is also not an exception. Due to this, there are some who may find it taking longer-than-usual time to learn new things or remember simple things. They forget where they kept their glasses, where they kept their car keys and all these are mild signs of forgetfulness and not any serious type of memory disorder.
- Losing Memory Due to Medical Reasons
There are few medical conditions which can also lead to crucial memory issues and such problems usually go away with treatment. The different medical conditions which can lead to memory issues include blood clots in the brain, tumors, infections, kidney or liver disorders, consuming too much of alcohol, head injury due to an accident or a fall, side-effects of medicines, not having healthy foods and enough minerals and vitamins that a person’s body may need.
- Emotional Issues and Memory Loss
There are several other emotional issues like anxiety, stress and depression which can also make a person forgetful and this too can be mistaken for dementia. If there is someone who has recently retired from work and he is also coming to terms with the death of a relative or a spouse or a dear friend, he might feel worried, sad, lonely and bored. Trying hard to deal with such changes in life can leave someone forgetful and confused.
The forgetfulness and confusion which are caused by emotions are temporary and they usually go away with time. Emotional issues can be solved by family and friends who are supportive but in case the feelings tend to last for more than 2 weeks, you should then seek help of a counselor or doctor. Few treatment options can include medication, counseling or sometimes both. When a person remains active and keeps on learning new things, this can help a person enhance his memory.
Normal forgetfulness vs. Dementia
For many people, lapses in memory occasionally can be a normal process of aging and not a warning sign that there might be grave mental deterioration. Here are the normal memory lapses which are common among the aged people and which are not considered as the signals of dementia.
- Sometimes forgetting where you left your things like your keys or glasses
- Forgetting the names of known people or blocking an entire memory with a person or making the mistake of calling your grandchild with the name of your son
- Not being able to retrieve data which you think is there at the tip of your tongue
- Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered
- Getting distracted easily or facing trouble in remembering what you just ate or read or what you just spoke with someone
Here is a table that will let you compare the differences between normal forgetfulness and dementia.
|In spite of occasional lapses in memory, the person is able to pursue his daily activities and function on his own
|Difficulty in carrying forth easy tasks like washing, dressing or eating and sometimes forgetting how to do things
|Ability to remember various incidents and describe them properly
|Incapable of recalling any specific incidents especially if the incident led to memory loss
|Halt to remember known directions but not getting lost in known places
|Feeling disoriented or lost in known places and incapability of following directions
|Decision-making and judgment ability remains same as always
|Trouble making choices, poor judgment ability or behave in ways which are socially inappropriate
|Occasional difficulty in choosing the right word but no such trouble in carrying forward a conversation
|Frequently forgetting words, garbled or misused, repeating stories and phrases in same types of conversation
When Is It The Right Time To Seek Help Of A Doctor?
It is necessary to get in touch with a doctor when these kinds of memory lapses gradually occur often and when it starts gaining attention of your loved family member. In case this is the situation that you’re going through, talk to a doctor, make an appointment and then go through the physical examinations which are required. Even though you might not be having all sorts of necessary symptoms which indicate this brain disease, it is always wise take steps before things soar out of control.
Your doctor can determine the personal risk issues, evaluate all the signs, reverse the causes of memory loss and let you obtain the best sort of care. If you can diagnose this disease early, you can reverse causes of memory less and decline symptoms of vascular dementia and also enhance the quality of life that you lead with dementia.
Living Well With Dementia – Few Strategies To Follow
Dementia can set an impact on a person’s life in more than one ways. If you wish to counter the negative impacts of dementia on your day-to-day life, here are few strategies that you can adopt.
- Stay Active Socially
How about staying in touch with people or involving yourself in different social gatherings like participating in a choir group or going out for a movie or theatre? All these activities can bring back your confidence and improve your mental well-being. If you live with someone who provides you care, it is vital for them too to have a social life that’s active. Join dementia-friendly communities.
- Go For a Balanced Diet
It is said that the Mediterranean diet is extremely beneficial for a person who is suffering from dementia. This diet encourages lots of vegetables and fruits and makes sure the person is receiving all the vital nutrients which they need to feel good and to combat all sorts of illnesses. There are fibre-rich foods like wholemeal carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits which can prevent various other uncomfortable things like constipation.
- Focus on Personal Hygiene
Washing and bathing is certainly one of the best ways in which you can prevent the spreading of all kinds of infections. In case, you see that they don’t enjoy bathing, try to know why. If you’re a caregiver, you should try to make the bathing time fun rather than making it a fearful experience. Making your loved one enjoy the events like bathing can make them feel interested towards the tasks. Motivate them to wash their hands more often and keep a sanitizer handy.
- Get Enough Rest and Sleep
It is indeed sad to note that dementia can have an adverse impact on the sleep patterns of the patient but that doesn’t mean that they require going through several sleepless nights. If you are not being able to get a sound sleep for a long time, you should try out new ways of relaxation and rest.
- Take Your Medicines on Time
When the person who is suffering is staying on medicines or drugs in order to remain healthy, you have to make sure that they take the medicines regularly and on time. Help them with reminders so that they don’t forget to take the medicines on time. You could have a pill reminder box with a sound alarm so that it rings on the mentioned time.
Therefore, as we see, taking care of a person with dementia is not a matter of joke. While you can encourage him to stay at the pink of his health, help him with the above mentioned strategies to live happily despite having dementia.