Reports reveal that mortality rates for different forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s have increased since the past few decades. Set against this data, they also say that the remaining top 4 main causes of death in 2018 – heart issues, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory issues and lung cancer have been seeing diminishing mortality rates within the last 15 years. In the year 2018, 28% of women died due to suffering from Alzheimer’s and this was certainly deemed to be the biggest reason for so many deaths of women.
8.7% of men expired due to this neurodegenerative disease and for them; it was the second biggest cause of death. In the UK, US and Australia, dementia is still the leading cause of death. In fact, the numbers of people are anticipated to die due to dementia will quadruple by 2040. Even between 2010 an 2011, there is also a noteworthy increase in the total numbers of deaths and this was mainly driven by the underlying causes of dementia.
Vital essentials that you should know on dementia
There are many who think that dementia is nothing but a natural part of ageing. But there’s more to it than just being a part of aging. Take a look at the vital essentials that you should know on dementia.
Dementia is not just something that comes with aging
With age, people tend to forget the name of a person or his face. But this is not dementia. Facing problem in remembering things, names and people is one among the multiple symptoms of dementia. Few other symptoms might include facing trouble in thinking, calculating, planning or struggling to make a conversation by choosing the right words. So, dementia is never a natural part of aging but it is most common among people who age. However, there are 40,000 people in the UK who have been suffering from something that is called young-onset dementia.
Dementia is not only about memory loss
The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word ‘dementia’ is memory loss. Yes, this disease often starts off by setting a negative impact on your short term memory which leads to short term memory loss. But someone who is suffering from dementia may repeat things or have problems in recalling things. This disease can also have an impact on the way in which people perceive things, speak, behave and feel. Some other symptoms include difficulty in concentrating, problem in planning, problems in judging distances, struggling with bank checkbook and many such issues.
Dementia is caused by brain diseases
When someone develops Alzheimer’s, this causes the nerve cells to die henceforth hampering the chemistry and structure of the brain. You may not know but there are various other causes of dementia and no 2 dementias are same. Some other types of dementia include mixed dementia (which is a mixture of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s), vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body dementia. Every elder person will experience dementia in their own way and they won’t even have symptoms in common.
It is possible to survive with dementia
Though scientists and researchers have still not been able to find out a cure for dementia, yet they are striving hard to find out one. Till the day arrives when there will be a treatment for dementia, the symptoms can be managed well in order to lead a healthy life. There are several medicines that are available and that can halt the progress of dementia for a while and this is why you should rush to a general physician whenever you suspect the initial symptoms of dementia. Few other things like cognitive stimulation like discussing news, solving riddles and puzzles can help. Keeping the patient as active as possible both mentally and physically is very important.
There are helplines for dementia support
Whichever country you live in, you will be able to find out dementia support helplines from where you can talk to someone for gaining information, advice and support. There are online communities which help people who are suffering from dementia. You can also find out local services in your area by typing the name of the locality you stay in.
Explaining the 7 stages of dementia
Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with dementia and who is in dire need of dementia caring? As mentioned above, every dementia patient will experience different symptoms and below we have enlisted the different stages of dementia which are the most common ones. Once you go through them, you will get a clearer idea on what you should expect in the approaching weeks, months and years.
STAGE 1: No cognitive impairment
The first and foremost stage of dementia has to be categorized as the stage where the patient functions normally. During this stage, the patient doesn’t display any noteworthy symptoms with cognitive decline or memory loss. This is why stage 1 to 3 is called the progression stage where the progresses with time and the first stage is the pre-dementia stage.
STAGE 2: Memory impairment associated with age
This is the second stage which features memory lapses during various occasions and the first few things that are forgotten by the patient are where they placed an item and the names of people who are familiar to them. This slight decline is merely related to cognitive decline with age and at the same time it can also be considered as the earliest symptoms of this neurodegenerative disease. The signs and symptoms at this age are undetectable and hence the caregiver’s concern for the onset of dementia should come with the occurence of other symptoms.
STAGE 3: Mild levels of cognitive decline
If you’re watching out for clear signs of cognitive impairment, then this occurs in the third stage. This is when the seniors in the house, friends and family members will begin to notice the changes in behavior. Memory tests and performances are hampered and the physicians can easily detect this cognitive functioning problem as the symptoms are pretty detectable. People suffering from stage 3 dementia will strive hard in the following areas: a) choosing the right words while speaking, b) remembering names of people they knew and c) planning and organizing things. At this stage, the patients frequently lose their valuable possessions as they forget where they kept them.
STAGE 4: Slight dementia
This is the stage where people begin to socially withdraw themselves and there are also clear changes in mood and behavior. In an attempt to defend them, they tend to deny the symptoms that they’re experiencing. Few behavioral changes that you may find are difficulty in recollecting things about someone’s personal details, reduced knowledge of current happenings, disorientation, reduced ability to handle monetary issues and arrange travel itineraries and difficulty in recognizing familiar people and known faces. People who are at this stage will avoid all sorts of challenges so that they could hide symptoms or prevent themselves from suffering from anxiety and stress.
STAGE 5: Cognitive decline that is moderately serious
Patients who are going through the 5th stage of dementia will need some help while carrying out their regular activities. The biggest sign that will prompt you about the progress of the disease is that the person will be incapable of remembering few very important details like the name of someone very close or the address of his home. They can even get disoriented about the place and time and can face trouble in deciding things; they can forget basic details about them like their name or telephone number. While this level of dementia can interfere with basic activities, they don’t need assistance with the basic jobs like eating or bathroom. However, they might face difficulty in dressing up.
STAGE 6: Severe mental decline
Whenever the patient starts forgetting the names of his spouse, children or grandchildren, it is most likely that they’ve entered the 6th stage of dementia and hence will require full-time assistance. This is the stage when the patients are no longer aware of their surroundings, they’re not able to recall memorable events and the memories of their past become blurred. The patient’s family member and caregiver should watch out for obsessive behavior, delusional behavior, and loss of determination, agitation, aggression and anxiety. Patients may also face trouble in sleeping and may also face hallucinations.
STAGE 7: Late dementia
Apart from the loss of motor skills, at stage 7, patients will also lose the ability to speak properly. This is the ultimate stage of dementia and the brain seems to get detached from the body. When dementia gets severe, the patient loses his speech and verbal abilities. Caregivers and loved ones will have to provide support to the person with eating, walking and even while using the toilet. They may even be shifted to australian home care facilities where there are professionals to take proper care of them.
It is only by identifying dementia at the earliest stage that you can immediately seek help of medical attention. Scroll down to know the few early signs of dementia.
Early signs of dementia that you should watch out for
Unless you’re able to recognize the initial symptoms of dementia, you may end up delaying the treatment. Not being able to provide immediate treatment may push the progression of the disease. Here are few initial symptoms.
#1: Short term memory loss
Trouble with remembering things can be one of the earliest signs of dementia. This is a subtle change but the loved one and family members have to be wary about this change. The aged person might remember things which took place several years ago but they may forget what they had for lunch. Forgetting where they left an item or forgetting why they entered a room are few other subtle symptoms.
#2: Trouble while choosing words
Yet another early sign of dementia is finding difficulties in communicating and arranging thoughts. A person suffering from dementia may find it tough to explain something and it can get difficult to have a conversation with someone who is suffering from dementia. The other person will find it tough to conclude what the person with dementia is trying to say.
A feeling of listlessness and apathy is also common with early stages of dementia. He will tend to lose interest in favorite activities and hobbies. All the things that they loved doing will no longer give them enjoyment. If they loved to spend time with their friends and families, they can suddenly become emotionally cold.
#4: Change in mood and behavior
One of the most common symptoms of dementia is change in mood. It is not always easy to identify yourself with the symptoms but your near and dear ones will always notice this change. For early stages of dementia, depression is also pretty common. There will also be a sudden shift in personality – someone who was outgoing and straightforward may all of a sudden become shy and shaky. Dementia disorders affect the judgmental ability of the brain and hence this occurs.
#5: Confusion all the time
Someone who is going through the early stage of dementia will remain confused most of the time. Whenever there is a lapse in thinking ability, memory or judgment, there might arise confusion. The patient might not be able to remember known faces, interact properly with people, find out words while discussing things and being able to direct people. Confusion can occur for several reasons and can apply for various situations.
Memory and forgetfulness will not always point you towards dementia. However, that doesn’t mean that you will consider the early signs of dementia as natural part of aging. Never ignore the symptoms as this can make the disease to progress rapidly. If you know someone who is experiencing few of the above mentioned symptoms, seek help of a doctor as soon as you can. Refer to a neurologist and complete the series of tests, the neurological exams, brain imaging tests and blood tests which are required for diagnosing this disease.