Dementia facts – Staying aware of the early signs and the tricks of handling the patient
Jul 25, 2019 17:16
The disease of forgetfulness – dementia, is a syndrome where the patient suffers from cognitive decline, deterioration in behavior, thinking and capability of performing regular activities.
Though dementia is mostly common among the seniors as age is the biggest risk factor of this syndrome, yet it can’t be said that it occurs normally to the aged people. All over the world, nearly 50 million people suffer from dementia and there are 10 million new people suffering from this disease every year.
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s and this contributes to 60-70% of the cases. This neurodegenerative disorder is the root cause of dependency and disability among the elder generation and it also has a psychological, physical, economical and social impact on the patient, his family and definitely his caregiver.
Are you sure you are aware of the early symptoms of dementia?
Dementia can attack a person when the nerve cells of his brain stop working properly. A natural deterioration of the human brain occurs as it grows older but this decline is quicker among people who suffer from dementia. As per the National Institute on Aging, there are several forms of dementia and regardless of the type that you or your family member is suffering from, personal care is important. Few other types of this disorder are:
•Lewy body dementia
Typically dementia will give you certain symptoms way before it sets in the human brain. Read on to know more on the early signs of dementia.
Sign #1: Loss of memory
One of the foremost symptoms of dementia is memory loss. A person whose brain has already been affected with dementia will initially find it tough to remember small details which they came to know recently like events, dates or other information. They may think they rely more on family and friends or even on memory aids for remembering things. Family members often mistake this memory loss as a normal part of ageing but this is not always true.
Sign #2: Confusion about place and time
Dementia can make it extremely tough for a person to understand which time of the day it is – whether day or night. They can also forget where they are or fail to understand the meaning and significance of events. You’ll also find them struggling with remembering dates as well.
Sign #3: Complication in solving issues or planning
Someone who is suffering from dementia will not be able to plan things like a recipe for cooking or directions for driving. Problem-solving gets challenging with time and you’ll find the person not being able to add numbers in a bill.
Sign #4: Not being able to understand visual details
Visual details can soon become challenging for a person who has been attacked by dementia. He will find it difficult to judge distances, measure things, read things and even distinguish between colors. If the person used to drive or cycle, he would start facing complications in those activities too.
Sign #5: Problems while writing and speaking
Were you extremely coherent as long as starting conversations were concerned? Now that you have dementia, you will gradually find it difficult to engage yourself in conversations as your thought process will be disturbed. You will forget what you’ve just said or what others have said due to which you may keep repeating the same things. If you write something, you will get confused with grammar, spelling and punctuation marks.
Sign #6: Unwillingness to socialize
A person who is suffering from dementia will soon feel unwilling to socialize with people around him. Even though he might have been a jovial person throughout his life but when dementia sets in, there will be certain personality alterations. They will start withdrawing themselves from talking to other people and will not feel like paying attention to others while they’re speaking.
Sign #7: Misplacing regular items
Someone who is suffering with dementia won’t be able to remember where they left their daily objects like vital documents, a remote control, keys or cash. It can soon become frustrating for such people as they will start accusing others of stealing their possessions.
Sign #8: Decision-making or poor judgment
Someone suffering from dementia will find it tough to decide which is reasonable or fair. This can mean that they’ll end up paying too much for an item or they may engage in binge-shopping where they buy things which they actually don’t need. There are some who even pay less focus on how they look or feel.
When is the right time to consult a doctor?
So, are you suffering from any of the above listed symptoms or do you find your near and dear one exhibiting any of these symptoms? If yes, it’s high time you take him to a medical professional for further consultation. As per Alzheimer’s Association, it is a myth that cognitive functioning gets worse with age but there can also be signs of decline due to some illness or dementia for which the assistance of doctors is a must. Though there is still no cure for dementia but doctors can certainly halt the progression of the disease or ease the symptoms.
Is there any hope for finding a proper cure for dementia?
A proper cure for dementia is something that all scientists and seniors are looking for. Groups of efficient scientists have been striving hard to find one. It is never going to be easy to find out a total cure for this disease but with the recent understanding of the progression of the disease, they now believe in providing effective treatment, even if that doesn’t mean complete care.
So, how do the future treatments for dementia look like? Scroll down.
•DMT or Disease Modification Therapy
Presently, the drugs that are available for treating dementia and Alzheimer’s only work to handle the symptoms of the disease but did you know about the Disease Modification Therapy? This therapy works by handling the disease and hence can be of much more benefit. Such drugs are considered as ‘transformative event’ that is searching for a cure. You may check out Solanezumab which is currently going through clinical trials.
•The diabetes link
Doctors and medical professionals use a medicine called Liraglutide for treating Type 2 diabetes and scientists are of the opinion that this could soon become one of the best drugs for reversing the progression of dementia. In the UK, there is an ongoing 5 million pounds study since this aforementioned drug was shown to cure the damage that dementia caused. This test was initially done on mice. It is being believed that this drug could be helpful in treating later stages of dementia.
There’s a new vaccine in the market called Betabloc which could stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and repair any damage that has already been done. This vaccine attacks the amyloid plaques within the cells of the brain. This vaccine not only removes these plaques inside the brain but also helps in regaining mental function.
Researchers in Canada have found out a way in which they could let go of the toxic amyloid plaque within the brain cells with the use of an ultrasound that’s non-invasive. Though this ultrasound has not yet been tested on humans, trials are still 2 years away. Scientists are of the opinion that this will be a breakthrough that would entirely change the way we treated Alzheimer’s and dementia.
•A medicine to reduce agitation
There is a new medicine called Brexiprazole which could reduce all sorts of agitation among people who are going through the moderate phase of dementia. However, this medicine is still undergoing trials. With the help of this drug, you could provide a more effective and safer way of handling behavior issues as compared to other anti-psychotic drugs.
Does the future look bright for dementia patients?
Have a look what the dementia experts all over the world recently said on the future of this disease and the possibilities of treatment opportunities.
‘Amidst the generation to which I belong, the goal is to find a treatment for dementia by 2020 and 2025 or at least find out the most common cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.’
‘The future of this disease is rather bright and there’s lot about which both medical professionals and scientists should be excited about.’ These 2 statements were said by NHS Director for Dementia, Prof. Alistair Burns.
James Pickett, the head of Alzheimer’s Society UK said that they now understood way more about how the disease progresses and hence they’re finding out ways to recognize people during the earliest stages of the disease.
Harry Cayton, CEO of Alzheimer’s Association US said that the research is too exciting and it would be rather unrealistic to mention that it can be expected to find out a treatment within the next 5 years.
Heather Snyder, director of US Alzheimer’s Association said that there are several researchers who believe that successful treatment will include a combination of medicines which are aimed at different targets which are equivalent to treatments to AIDs and cancers.
Choose the right body language while dealing with a dementia patient
If you’re someone who is living with a person with dementia, taking care of him is extremely important. Though there are online resources like https://www.dementiacaring.com.au from which you can get help of the best ways of taking care of a dementia patient, yet you should know how to deal with them. When and how language issues can create an impact on the mind of the patient, noone knows. This is why you need to know what you can say and what you can’t say to such a patient.
•‘Do you remember when...?’
You may feel tempted to play with the memory of someone who is surviving with dementia, if you ask them this kind of a question, this often gives them a reminder of their lost memories which can become a painful experience for them. That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about the past but you shouldn’t lead the conversation and allow the person to join in. Instead of that, you could start with ‘I remember when....’
•‘Didn’t I just tell you that’
Yes, you may feel frustrated to answer the same question over and over again but when you’re dealing with a dementia patient, this will happen. If you tell him in an irritating tone, ‘I just told you that’, this will remind the person of his sorry state of mind. Instead you should try your best to remain polite. The patient should always feel that they’re being listened to or being understood.
•‘What are the things you did this morning?’
As long as open-ended questions like these are concerned, you should avoid asking them as this can be a stressful experience for them. Though it might seem polite to ask someone how their day was but when it is a dementia patient, deal with the present. Rather than throwing open-ended questions, you should give him options. Instead of asking him ‘what should you like to drink?’ you could ask him, ‘would you like coffee or tea?’
•‘Your sister died 8 years back’
A person who is surviving with dementia might have forgotten some past news of bereavement or someone very close who has passed away. If you remind him of his loved one’s death, it can make them grieve over it for another time. Being a caregiver, you should always show sensitivity whenever you deal with him. If the patient is at the later stages of dementia, trying to remind him of the absence of someone won’t work much. Hence it should be avoided.
•Do you know who I am?’
It can indeed be saddening enough to know that someone close with dementia is not being able to recognize you. However, you can’t forget that the feelings are mutual as he too might be feeling bad about not recognizing you. If you ask the person whether or not he is able to recognise you, he may feel offended. Rather you should keep it friendly to a warm hug.
So, now that you’re aware of the ways to properly communicate with a person who has dementia, don’t make a mistake that hurts them or makes them feel disheartened.
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