What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for over 100 different forms of cognitive disorder, with the main four being Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body, Vascular, and Frontotemporal.
Alzheimer’s – the brain consists of tiny little plates which connect to one another. When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, these plates disconnect due proteins building up and forming abnormal structures called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles, leading to nerve cells dying and brain tissue being lost. The individual loses their memory bit by bit, regressing in age which explains why they may not recognise their spouse or children, as in their mind, they’re 22.
Lewy Body – the second most common form of Dementia. It’s a progressive disease involving abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein, or Lewy Bodies, on the brain. Lewy Bodies grow in the nerve cells of the brain which impacts alters thinking. Symptoms include confusion, fatigue, trouble sleeping, fainting and unsteadiness on the feet, varying attention levels, hallucinations and trouble remembering, understanding, and thinking.
Vascular – it occurs due to the blood vessels deep within the brain narrowing, restricting the ease of blood flow to the brain. This can happen through a stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attacks – more commonly known as a ‘TIA’ or ‘mini stroke’.
Treatments include therapies, relaxation methods such as massages, social interactions, prescribed medicine to treat high blood pressure and blood clots.
Frontotemporal – thought to account for fewer than 1 in 20 of all Dementia cases, but it still largely prevalent in the UK and begins at a younger age – most are diagnosed between the ages of 45 to 65. It affects the front and the sides of the brain and gradually worsens with age. Key symptoms include significant personality and behavioural changes, trouble speaking coherently, loss of memory and issues with maintaining focus.
What are the treatments for dementia?
Treatments for all include therapies, Dementia groups, Doctor prescribed medicines, support groups, and stimulating the brain. Prescribed antidepressants can be used to treat depression and should it be advised by your doctor or therapist, other prescribed medicine can be given only if other treatments have not helped.
Depending upon your Dementia diagnosis, your symptoms will differ greatly. But generally, they include sudden mood changes, being confused about the date and time, difficulty in concentrating, slower movement, less coherent when speaking and not being able mentally sharp, and a loss of the ‘filter’ – saying things you wouldn’t ordinarily say.
The questions of can Dementia be completely prevented is one that scientists and researchers have been continually fighting for decades. Unfortunately, there is no currently available cure, and the most important thing that you can do is to integrate the below preventive measures into your life as early as you can, keeping your mind active, living a healthy lifestyle. However, their tireless research had led to some vitals breakthroughs along the way.
Small measures you can include:
- Lowering your blood pressure to prevent blood clots
- Reducing alcohol intake to the recommended amount of drinking no more than 14 units per week
- Maintaining a healthy weight as obesity can lead to chronic cardiovascular diseases leading to damaged blood vessels in the brain, reducing blood flow
- Exercise both physically – aerobics, fitness classes- and mentally – crosswords, puzzles
- Stopping smoking
- Healthy eating. A diet high in fats, sugars, but low in fibre can increase your likelihood of having type 2 diabetes and a high cholesterol
How can I help?
If you are a relative or close friend of the one suffering with Dementia, there are some things that you can take. Around their house, make sure there are photos of loved ones so they regularly see their familiar faces, eliminate all tripping hazards, swap out the confusing technology for simple Dementia-friendly alternatives and, depending on the diagnosis stage and the primary caregiver’s ability to continue, seek help of a professional live-in carer. The home of the individual is a safe and familiar place to be, so by changing too much i.e., adding too many new things, or switching around the placement of furniture, can cause confusion and for them to feel out of place.
Ways which you can help them mentally include asking them questions about their family, upbringing, favourite past holidays, family pets, anything to help their recall abilities. Be careful to note when they are struggling to recall avoiding them from feeling frustrated. Similarly, ask them to help you make their signature dish or complete a jigsaw with you.
We are here to help
At Country Cousins we only source the best carers in the industry. All our carers go through our detailed vetting service to ensure we only introduce you to the best care possible. Our carers are fully qualified and trained to offer bespoke care for different needs.