July 9th, 2019 | Senior Health
Identifying Dementia and Knowing When to Seek Help
Having a conversation about dementia can be difficult for all involved. These conversations are challenging, but they have a meaningful, deeply personal impact on the lives of your loved one and family.
At Legend Senior Living®, our goal is to help those in need find the care they deserve while maintaining respect, independence, and dignity. Over the years, we’ve learned some tried and true tips from residents and their families that can help you have a difficult conversation about dementia.
Signs of Dementia
There are at least 12 well-known types of dementia, and the symptoms are so diverse and can come on so fast, which makes it even more difficult for caregivers. Being aware of the warning signs can help you know what to look for.
Some early signs of dementia include:
- Difficulty doing chores or other tasks
- Confusion with everyday tasks
- Repetition, especially in conversation
- Emotional flatness
- Lost interest in hobbies
- Poor short-term memory
- Difficulty finding words when talking
- Getting lost in familiar environments
Different types of dementia and memory disorders
Over a period of time, dementia and other memory disorders cause progressive impairment in stages that lead to an eventual need for complete, full-time caregivers due to inability to function independently. People with dementia can even forget how to walk or sit up straight. The first step is identifying which type of dementia they might have.
One of the most common types of dementia, scientists aren’t quite sure what causes Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s due to an accumulation of abnormal brain proteins. Most cases of Alzheimer’s disease begin between the ages of 40-65, and it typically progresses rapidly.
Frontotemporal dementia is caused by atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It causes forgetfulness and word-finding problems, impulsivity, personality changes, and poor judgement.
The second most common type of dementia, vascular dementia is caused by strokes occurring within the brain. Patients often go without noticing symptoms (like weakness, visual loss, or numbness) because it’s caused by untreated high blood pressure or heart disease.
Mixed dementia occurs when people develop more than one type of dementia simultaneously. It is also called “multifactorial” because many types of memory disorders cause similar brain changes.
Associated with abnormal muscle movements and destruction of brain cells, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease typically progresses rapidly over a few years.
Lewy Body Dementia
Robin Williams was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia before his death, prompting scientists to research more about it. It’s characterized by forgetfulness and hallucination, which can seem very real. Those with this disorder often suffer the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, like tremors and slowness.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Recent studies suggest that concussions and other brain injuries often lead to memory issues and dementia, especially the changes identified in Alzheimer’s disease.
Also known as Korsakoff syndrome, alcoholic dementia is caused by a deficiency in B vitamins due to excessive drinking, but can also be caused by malnourishment.
Huntington’s disease causes abnormal movements (chorea), which is the hallmark of the diagnosis.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Usually attributed to abnormal enlargement of the fluid-filled spaces in the brain, this type of memory disease leads to problems with walking, memory, and incontinence.
Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
The most important part of any dementia or memory disorder diagnosis is to have the support and resources necessary to care for aging loved ones (and provide caregiver relief), as well as a great deal of patience and time to help.
During the early stages of the disease, family members function as caregivers, cooking meals or monitoring medications. Later however, they find themselves providing basic care, such as bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, etc. This can also include transportation, attending doctor’s appointments, installing safety railing, stairs and locks, and developing procedures to make sure loved ones don’t wander off.
While there’s no way to completely stop the development of dementia, there are ways one can help prevent the disease through heart-healthy diets and regular exercise. If, however, you and your family are dealing with it, Legend Senior Living® can help. We understand these kinds of lifestyle changes can be difficult and have developed award-winning therapies, unique activities and purposefully designed environments to help those with dementia.
If you have any questions or are interested in more information, call us today to learn more, schedule a tour, and let us show you how we can help provide some peace of mind with our state-of-the-art communities.