Dementia is a term used to contain a wide range of conditions that lead to memory impairment. Many people worldwide live with the condition of dementia. In fact, according to World Health Organization numbers, some 50 million people currently live with dementia, with an astounding 10 million new people diagnosed on an annual basis. While there is no cure for the disease of dementia, there are many resources and support systems in place for those diagnosed with this progressive disease, offering hope not only to the person experiencing dementia but those who love them as well.
The types of resources and treatments available greatly depend on the severity of dementia. For those with mild symptoms at the beginning stages of the disease, often in-home options or outpatient-type services will suffice. In contrast, while those with more progressive symptoms in the later stages of dementia will need memory care and residential housing options.
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- About Dementia?
- Symptoms of Dementia
- Types of Dementia
- Stages and Progression of Dementia
- Causes and Risk Factors of Dementia
- Dementia Diagnosis and Dementia Treatment Options
- Dementia Care Options
Dementia is a term covering a wide range of ailments that alter how a person’s memory works. Those with dementia will also experience notable cognitive functionality decline and have difficulty with emotional regulation and memory skills. It often affects a person’s ability to interact as it can alter social skills.
Though dementia has some similarities that most people experience, the condition itself will often appear slightly different in each person it affects. Some people experience only mild symptoms, and their inconsistencies are often brushed off as age-related forgetfulness and nothing more.
Others will experience more noticeable early symptoms like losing track of time, being overly forgetful and becoming disoriented, even in a familiar setting. In some cases, early-stage dementia can go on for years before it moves into the next stage of progression. (More on the stages of dementia later.) Dementia is most common in those aged 65 and older, but it can begin at any age.
The most commonly noted symptom associated with dementia is memory loss or impairment. However, there are many other physical, psychological and cognitive changes those living with dementia can experience. The following are some of the most common symptoms that go along with dementia:
This often begins innocently enough with occasional forgetfulness. It will eventually progress into the inability of the person to recall events, places and even the names of those they love.
Another common obstacle with dementia is the inability to find the right words to communicate normally.
Tasks Associated Problems
People with dementia also tend to have trouble with anything that could be considered a complex task, like balancing a checkbook.
Even seemingly small tasks quickly become overwhelming to those with dementia.
Motor Function Breakdown
Those with dementia will often experience changes in their motor function. They are unable to coordinate their body to do what their mind is wanting to do.
Another common issue with dementia is overall confusion about what’s going on.
Often a person with dementia will seem like another person entirely as if their personality is just different.
These two symptoms often go along with dementia as the symptoms that are often hard to deal with or understand completely.
Some may even hallucinate and see things that simply are not there.
Finally, dementia often causes even the most docile or trusting individual to become agitated and paranoid and can even accuse those they love of stealing or other forms of paranoia. This is a particularly difficult symptom to deal with for the caregivers and family.
Types of Dementia
There are several types of dementia that fall under the umbrella medical term. They are as follows:
This neurological disorder can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid, making even walking difficult. It can also cause noticeable tremors and will eventually progress into dementia.
Accounting for some 80% of all dementia cases, this is the most common type of dementia. The early signs include depression, memory loss and often moves into mood changes, confusion and even difficulty speaking or walking.
This type of brain disorder is caused by a defective gene, which alters the brain’s central area. This negatively impacts the way a person moves, thinks and alters their mood.
Lewy Body Dementia
Often shortened to just DLB for short (Dementia with Lewy Bodies), this disease causes a person to struggle with reasoning, functioning independently or even thinking because it alters the way the body deposits protein that develops in the brain’s cortex.
This is the second most common type of dementia, behind only Alzheimer’s Disease. It takes place when the brain does not get enough blood flow. It is often related to atherosclerotic disease or strokes. It can begin suddenly and often presents with concentration problems, confusion and disorientation.
Stages and Progression of Dementia
There are three primary stages of dementia:
This stage is often overlooked because symptoms are mild and can develop gradually over time. Common symptoms to look for in this earliest stage of dementia include:
- Becoming lost, even in family settings or locations.
- Losing track of time easily or easier than previously.
- Being overly forgetful.
By this stage, the signs of the condition are more noticeable and become more restricting to daily life. Symptoms can include:
- Becoming lost at home.
- Becoming forgetful of even recent events and family and friends’ names.
- Experiencing difficulty when trying to communicate.
- Enduring behavior changes, like repeating questions, wandering, etc.
- Needing help with basic, personal care.
The final stage of dementia means entering into a state of near-total dependency on others and severely limited activity. Physical and memory symptoms become more severe and highly noticeable in this stage. Symptoms to expect during the late stage of dementia include:
- Difficulty walking.
- Having even more trouble recognizing family and friends.
- Becoming unaware of place or time.
- Needing more assistance with self-care.
- Experiencing more behavior changes that could escalate into aggression.
Causes and Risk Factors of Dementia
The most substantial known risk factor continues to be age. As mentioned above, most dementia cases involve those aged 65 and older. (Those under the age of 65 are classified as young onset dementia, and they account for only 9% of the cases.) The following are some notable risk factors that are associated with dementia based on recent studies and the World Health Organization:
- Harmful use of alcohol
- Remaining overweight or weight being unsteady
- Unhealthy diet
- High blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol levels
- Social isolation
- Cognitive inactivity
- Low educational attainment
Dementia Diagnosis and Dementia Treatment Options in Meadows Place TX near Sugar Land
There isn’t a set test used to diagnose or confirm dementia. Instead, there are several factors considered as well as imaging scans, blood work and examinations. Physicians will complete a detailed history that will reveal any form of cognitive decline and complete cognitive tests that will assess a person’s current language skills, attention span, and memory.
Eventually, a neurological evaluation will be performed that will evaluate a person’s balance and reflexes. A PET scan might also be ordered that will measure the brain activity levels. Radiologists might rule out a stroke using imaging scans like CTs to check for tumors and other signs of bleeding in the brain. Most of this is to rule out other causes of cognitive decline not related to dementia.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no known cure for dementia. However, that doesn’t mean families in Meadows Place, Sugar Land, or other locations near Houston TX that need dementia care for a loved one are without resources or hope. Doctors often recommend various therapies and medications to manage the symptoms of dementia and provide a better quality of life. The medicines help by boosting chemical messenger levels in the brain, improving cognitive function.
Therapies can include occupational therapies to ensure that a person with dementia stays safe as their disease progresses. Other therapies involve methods like reminiscence therapy that encourages them to discuss their past, watch videos, and look at photos designed to help stimulate memories.
Early detection is essential and significantly impacts the outcome of any therapies or treatments. In addition, in most cases, the treatment is based on the type of dementia. In other words, the way a doctor advises someone with Alzheimer’s will differ from how they treat a person with Parkinson’s. Some medications and therapies obviously will overlap, but the specific treatment is often individualized based on their particular symptoms and type of dementia.
When the type of dementia is aggressive, like in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, most of the time, treatment will be based on slowing down the progression of the disease, not necessarily curing or attacking the disease itself. The following are some common examples of treatment options doctors might suggest:
- Ceasing any medication that may increase disorientation or confusion.
- Surgery to remove tumors or other issues in the brain, causing symptoms.
- Vitamins for any specific deficiency noted.
- Medication to treat any sort of infection like encephalitis that could be contributing to dementia problems.
- Thyroid therapy if the thyroid levels are a concern.
- Medication for depression.
Dementia Care Options in the Houston Area
The type of dementia care options largely depends on their current cognitive state and their ability to continue to live on their own safely. In most cases, the early stages will not require very intrusive care, and people can remain living independently. The following is a breakdown of the care options as they progress through the stages of dementia:
In the early stages of dementia, individuals can sometimes remain in their homes living on their own with some extra help in place. This could include implementing a companion who will help them with transportation, daily living activities, household chores, transportation.
This is the ideal living solution for those with more advanced, even into late-stage dementia. This will include having staff on hand who will provide health monitoring and security for residents. Memory care also provides dining, property maintenance and housekeeping for residents. Full-time medical services are usually not part of these communities but having staff on the property along with the services provided helps those with dementia remain somewhat independent, even living with their disease.
One late-stage living option for those living with dementia is a Houston nursing home. This involves skilled nursing care, 24/7 and there are always medical professionals present to supervise.
Hampton at Meadows Place Dementia Care
Finding a dementia care community in Meadows Place or Sugar Land that provides team members trained for the specific purpose of supporting those with dementia is most likely the best choice.
If you have questions about dementia care in Houston or Alzheimer’s care in our memory care community, contact us today. Our memory care team members will help you better understand dementia and the options available to you.