Thought for the day: A person with dementia does not necessarily have Alzheimer’s but a person with Alzheimer’s definitely has dementia.
As we age, just as our bodies start to physically slow down so too does our brain. It is natural for it to take longer for us to retrieve memories, process questions, solve problems, etc. as we get older. It is not normal however for us to forget things altogether or not to be able to generally deal with activities of daily living. That is usually an indication of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. MCI is a term used to describe when a person has memory or other thinking problems greater than normal for someone their age and education. Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily living.
Like a fever or a stomach ache, dementia is the symptom, not the underlying cause. There are well over a hundred causes of dementia. Some are reversible. Some dementias are caused by onetime events and do not progress. Others get worse over time (are progressive). Dementias caused by urinary tract infections (UTIs), dehydration, thyroid problems or certain vitamin deficiencies are often easily reversible. Memory loss associated with a stroke (or other vascular issues) is the typical irreversible non-progressive dementia example. Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent dementia cause (it accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases) and it is progressive (Parkinson’s related dementia is another progressive type).
Because each type of dementia cause is different, it is important to obtain a proper diagnosis. Dehydration might just require more liquid or a trip to the hospital for an IV. A UTI will need antibiotics. Vascular dementia may not require any medication but attention to the underlying heart or vascular problem so another stroke does not occur causing more damage. Even with the progressive types, the medical treatment is different for those with Alzheimer’s than for those with Parkinson’s or Huntington’s. etc.
For most of the progressive types, there is no cure. But there are medications that can slow the progress. Also, there is a great benefit to understanding the general progression because the way a caregiver approaches a loved one during the different stages is different. For example, in the later stages of Alzheimer’s it is inappropriate to correct the patient or to constantly ask them if they remember who you are. Behaviors like this only agitate them and cause them to feel bad.
For more information on Alzheimer’s, see the Alzheimer’s Association. For information on Dementia, two other good sources are the Dementia Spotlight Foundation and Dementia Redefined.
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Tampa, FL, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (813) 343-2228