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Home Health Wellness Stages of Dementia

Stages of Dementia

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Risk Factors For Dementia

Most of us have been able to avoid spending much time in consideration of the phrase elderly dementia.  Unfortunately many families hit a point where they can no longer avoid the issues raised due to an elderly parent's condition. Elderly dementia has the capacity to involve ever more of the aging population in the coming decades.  It is estimated that one in every two people over 80 do and will suffer from dementia or a related illness.

Be Proactive When It Comes to Dementia

As our population ages, the concern will not be for families dealing alone with the issue but for entire communities and organizations handling health care for those who contract the disease.  Risk factors along with careful inventory of your own health bear consideration for each of us as we age.  Dementia is a complex and fractured syndrome or illness with many related factors involved.  The effects of dementia can be different for each person dealing with the disease.  And it is one disease that can be taken control of to improve outcomes.

Understanding Elderly Dementia

Dementia is not Alzheimer's disease. Elderly dementia is actually a decrease in mental functions that interferes with the person's ability to function in a variety of daily living tasks. It can develop when the learning, decision-making, memory, or language part of the brain is damaged by an infection or a disease. Alzheimer's disease is one cause of dementia but there are also many other related illnesses, catalysts and risk factors that can cause or increase dementia.

Some more diseases related to dementia are:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Lewy body disease
  • Pick's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Huntington's disease
  • Stroke
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Vitamin B12, folate, or a similar nutritional deficiency
  • AIDS dementia complex
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • A buildup of fluid on the brain from an infection, brain tumor, or injury
  • Kidney, liver, or lung diseases that could affect brain functions

Due to the various causes of dementia, some forms are treatable or can be slowed if the appropriate medical or nutritional intervention is applied.  If the dementia is due to a nutritional deficiency, there is a good chance that some lost mental capacity or functioning may return once the deficiency has been addressed. 

Dementia due to excess fluid in the brain or to a tumor typically goes away once the fluid or tumor has been removed. It is very important that the doctor figures out exactly what is causing the dementia so that appropriate remedies can be applied.  It's also important to know when the disease may not be treatable.

Dealing with Elderly Dementia

Dealing with elderly dementia is frustrating for the identified patient as well as for familymembers.   If you know someone who is suffering from elderly dementia the following reminder methods may be helpful.

  • Tape notes around the house to help the patient remember what needs to be done
  • Tape a list of important phone numbers above the phone
  • Set multiple alarms that will sound alertsfor taking medicine and eating meals
  • Ask a family member or friend to call the patient daily with questions and reminders
  • Create a photo board of the people who are helping the identified patient or who regularly visit and be sure to put their name in the photo caption

Elderly dementia commonly but not necessarily involves memory loss.  Sometimes dementia can involve a loss in language or decision making skill.  If you notice that you or a family member is having problems speaking or finding the right words; it is time to seek advice and diagnosis through a specialist. 

When to Address the Potential of Dementia

Dealing with dementia proactively isn't easy but it is necessary to see a doctor before the problem gets so advanced that the family member involved can't communicate what is needed or desired.   Living wills should be drawn up before an elderly person actually begins to experience symptoms so that his or her desires for care can be taken into consideration when decisions involving care need to be made.

Handling the problems related to a relative's dementia can be very difficult for family members since it so deeply affects communication skills.  It's important to consider all options available within the community or nearby institutions so that good decisions can be made about care.   Understanding the disease, the causes and the coping strategies is important.  Talking about dementia with family members before it becomes a necessary topic of conversation may help alleviate a lot of the questions that are uppermost in importance.

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