If yourself or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, you may be wondering – and worried about – what it all means. We’re taking things back to basics and putting the spotlight on dementia and taking a look at the different types, symptoms associated with the condition and the difference care can make.
What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term to characterise the different symptoms and conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia, which can cause memory loss, difficulties with thinking, language and problem solving. Although the symptoms can begin slowly, they can become serious enough that it affects day-to-day tasks and life, with some people also seeing changes in their behaviour and mood too.
Some of the symptoms of dementia can mask themselves as the usual signs of ageing, as those diagnosed are usually over the age of 65 – however there are small nuances than distinguish them to the inconveniences of regular ageing. It’s important to look out for the symptoms below if they become worrying, or prepare yourself that if following a diagnosis, some of these symptoms could begin down the line.
- Memory loss: perhaps one of the most distressing and disruptive symptoms, this decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills can be difficult for both the person with the condition and their friends and family.
- Behaviour changes: As the condition progresses, you may begin to see changes in behaviour that’s unusual for their personality, or may be difficult to understand.
- Communication and language: Frustrating for everyone involved, dementia can make it difficult to communicate with muddling words or forgetting simple phrases.
- Sight and hearing loss: Although sight and hearing losses occur naturally as we get older, these losses can occur to people with dementia. This can add to confusion and misunderstanding surroundings which can cause extra problems and distress.
- Perception and hallucinations: As the brain has difficulty interpreting the information it receives, it can alter the expectations of what is being seen, or could be seen, and can cause hallucinations.
- Aggression: Often one of symptoms that can cause loved ones to consider extra care and support, verbal and physical aggression can be upsetting for everyone.
- Trouble sleeping: From having trouble getting to sleep to waking through the night, sleep disturbances are a common factor in dementia.
- Anxiety, apathy and depression: Although these may be pre-existing conditions, dementia can feed into these and put extra strain on the sufferer and those around them.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 520,000 people in the UK and is a physical condition that affects the brain and is the most common cause of dementia. If someone develops the disease, the connections between the billions of nerve cells in the brain can be damaged and die, with brain tissue eventually being lost.
Symptoms can include (but are not limited to):
- Speech issues
- Memory problems
- Difficulty judging distances or seeing things in three dimensions
- Problems planning, organising and concentrating
- Confusion and losing track of dates or days
Over time, this progressive disease can also lower the number of chemical messengers that are also needed to carry signals between cells in the brain. As this occurs, symptoms can become worse and new ones can present themselves, which can add to confusion and distress.
What causes dementia?
Understanding the causes of dementia means that we can take steps to minimise the risk and help manage the condition. Unfortunately, there are some natural risk factors of dementia that you can’t alter. Things such as age, gender, ethnicity, and genetics can all play a part on whether or not dementia is developed, but there are also some external factors that can be taken into account.
Modifying certain behaviours can help to prevent dementia developing. Things like cutting down alcohol, taking care of your blood pressure, increasing exercise levels and avoiding obesity can all help contribute to positive brain health. If you’re unsure about the best ways to reduce these risk factors then it might be worth taking a trip to your GP to help monitor and manage.
Eating well can also improve brain health. Things like fish, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans are all said to help.
What care is available for dementia in Weymouth?
If you feel that you need extra support, then moving into a care home can offer relief for both the sufferer and their loved ones.
At Friary Care the comfort and support of those who live with us is paramount. Our care homes in Weymouth are designed with private bedrooms and large lounges that are perfect for socialising with others in our care, and we work to make our home, your home. Many of our residents have brought pieces of furniture with them which can help ease into the new surroundings and reduce stress for those with dementia, and our tailored care plan means that we offer the right support where needed.
If you would like to arrange a visit or discuss residential care needs, please call Peter on 01305 787811.