What are Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are both stressful diagnoses for a loved one to face, let alone for their family. Many images and fears flash through everyone’s mind when faced with either, including how to deal with the issues surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
To help people who are faced with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects their loved ones, read below to understand what both are and the treatment and care available to better navigate the situation.
Dementia is the general term to describe a large number of cognitive disorders. It can also originate from several other health issues. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia that is the most recognizable form. It affects people’s memory, thinking, and behavior. While Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia, it’s important to understand that dementia is a condition that can arise from several other health issues.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia and while commonly associated with aging, is not a normal part of it. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 65 but isn’t uncommon in younger people. It’s a progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time, and begins with mild memory loss. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Difficulty learning new information
- Mood and behavioral changes
- Confusion regarding time, place, and events
- Unfounded suspicion/paranoia
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking
- Difficulty coping with new situations
The beginning stages of Alzheimer’s bring memory issues and it’s important to take note if you or your loved one is beginning to have trouble remembering new information and becoming confused over things like days and time. In spite of Alzheimer’s currently being incurable, knowing the early symptoms and detecting them can slow the progression and treatment can manage those symptoms.
When caring for people with Alzheimer’s, routine is as important as any other instance of dementia. As the disease progresses, managing their daily tasks as their caregiver will increase and it’s important to remember that they can become agitated over once-simple activities and tasks. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s should include:
Dementia is a general term for the loss of problem-solving, memory, language abilities, and other types of thinking that interfere with daily life. Other disorders that are grouped under the term dementia are usually caused by abnormal brain changes that create a decline in cognitive abilities, such as Vascular dementia or Lewy Body Dementia.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Loss of inhibition
- Poor judgment
- Difficulty expressing thoughts and/or reading, and writing
- Repeating questions
- Difficulty handling money and paying bills
- Wandering and/or getting lost in familiar neighborhoods
Different types of dementia are associated with different types of brain cell damage in specific regions of the brain, causing those cells to communicate poorly As there is no test for dementia itself, it’s important to pay attention to symptoms and see a doctor so he/she can determine whether a loved one or yourself has a type of dementia. They identify this through reviewing medical history, a physical examination and functioning level assessment laboratory tests and imaging and characteristic changes in thinking and behaviors associated with each type of dementia.
Caring for someone with dementia can be difficult, but with the right structure and patience, you can greatly help a loved one while providing them with the care they need:
How Caregivers Help
Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia can quickly become full-time. As the disease progresses, and independent living becomes more difficult, many families will turn to formal caregivers to support their efforts. These professionals are trained in helping people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, able to successfully manage the memory loss and calm frustrations that arise out of confusion while also allowing for care when family members have to work, have other life obligations, or just need a break.
When a family hires them, they’re receiving a more objective approach to your loved one’s health. They’re equipped to be firm when need be and keep people safe from themselves while also helping the family cope with the disease’s progression. They’re an excellent source of information and comfort to both the person suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and the family.
Custom Alzheimer's and Dementia Care & Caregivers
Villageplan™ provides professional caregivers for those families in need and people suffering from age-related diseases, aging adults, and those suffering from different kinds of dementia. We also provide Care Management services, and a roadmap on how to navigate the maze of dealing with growing older. If you or a loved one is facing this diagnosis, we encourage you to explore our services and discover how we can help you manage it.