Are you aware that more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide? The World Health Organization shares this is the case, with nearly 10 million new cases being added yearly. They also revealed that dementia is the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases, making it crucial to know what this disease is, what its types are, and what signs may accompany it.
If you don’t yet know much about dementia, or your loved one has recently been diagnosed, we’re making it easier to decipher what you need to know by putting all the facts in one place. Discover everything you need to know about dementia below.
Dementia Resource Guide
What is dementia?
The World Health Organization defines dementia as a syndrome, chronic or progressive in nature, that leads to a decline in cognitive function. Known for affecting memory, thinking, comprehension, language and judgment, those affected can experience changes in mood, behavior and more.
What are the different types of dementia?
There are many forms of dementia, each affecting people in different ways. According to the Alzheimer’s AssociationⓇ, some of the most common forms of dementia include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease – The most common type of dementia, affecting more than 6 million Americans
- Lewy Body Dementia (also known as Dementia with Lewy bodies) – A type of progressive dementia that may include spontaneous changes in attention and alertness; recurrent visual hallucinations; and slow movement, tremors or rigidity.
- Vascular Dementia (also known as vascular cognitive impairment ) – Caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to various regions of the brain, depriving brain cells of oxygen and nutrients.
- Frontotemporal Dementia – a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes or its temporal lobes, most commonly diagnosed in those in their 40s and early 60s.
- Mixed Dementia – Where more than one cause of dementia occurs simultaneously.
There are other diseases and disorders that are linked to dementia and memory loss, such as Huntington’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, traumatic brain injuries, Korsakoff Syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
Are there different stages of dementia?
There are three different stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The first stage focuses on the early stages of the disease, where onset is most likely to be slow and gradual. Then come the middle stages, where signs and symptoms of the disease become much clearer and noticeable. During the late/final stage, you’re more likely to notice total dependence on you or another caregiver.
What are the warning signs of dementia?
Each stage of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss comes with various signs and symptoms which may be different from person to person. Many caregivers, friends and family members of those with dementia may notice warning signs like:
Difficulty completing everyday tasks
Those with dementia may find it difficult to keep track of bills or follow recipes. They may also be unable to concentrate on tasks or have a hard time finishing them.
From asking the same question over and over to retelling the same stories, repetition is a common warning sign people notice.
The decline of visual and spatial abilities may make it easier to get lost while driving.
Putting things in unusual places and being unable to retrace steps to find them is a key sign of memory loss.
Loss of interest
Withdrawing from loved ones and losing interest in passions is a sign of memory loss.
Forgetting old memories
Persistent loss of memory is often one of the first signs of dementia.
People with dementia may also experience reactions that may look like dementia, but really aren’t, like infections, vitamin deficiencies and medication side effects. If you have concerns, or think your loved one may be experiencing memory loss, talk to your loved one’s doctor or a medical professional.
What can you expect from dementia?
As dementia progresses, there are a number of effects that caregivers should expect. Below are some of the top symptoms you will more than likely come across.
The need for support with activities of daily living
Those with dementia often become unable to care for themselves. They may need support with self-care, getting dressed, bathing, toileting and more. They will also begin to need help with money management.
Changes in behavior
Behavior changes in dementia are commonly noticed. Those dealing with the disease may experience aggression, confusion, agitation, suspicion and depression.
Dementia can cause older adults to become forgetful of recent events and people’s names, decrease their ability to recognize family and friends, make it more difficult to remember the names of household items, increase repetition of words and phrases and more.
Older adults experiencing dementia may have difficulty walking, decreased coordination, may wander, become lost in familiar places and face limited mobility.
Is there a way to cure dementia?
There is currently not a cure for dementia. Though there is no cure, according to the World Health Organization, it’s possible there may be some treatment options that can help with symptoms. Ask your physician for more information on possible medications.
What are the risk factors of dementia?
While it’s important to know that dementia isn’t a normal part of aging for older adults, knowing the risk factors and planning to combat them ahead of time can help. While some of these factors are changeable, some are not, like age or a family history of dementia. This makes doing what you can to reduce the risk of dementia that much more important.
Check out some of the most notable modifiable risk factors, as shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are lifestyle related:
- Not getting enough exercise
- Drinking heavily or smoking
- Diabetes and unmanaged blood sugar
- Hearing loss
How can I plan ahead?
If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with a form of memory loss, creating a plan for the future is the best way to provide peace of mind while facing an unpredictable disease. Whether this means learning as much as you can from a healthcare provider, preparing your loved one’s home so they can remain there as long as possible, or researching your senior living options, the right plan and information can make a big difference.
If you’re considering moving your loved one to a memory care community that offers expert support like our Bridges® by EPOCH memory care communities, or you simply need support during your caregiving journey, we’re here for you.
Attend a support group or upcoming event today.
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