1 March 2019
By Stephen Wiblin, Head of Clinical Strategy and Development
It is a common misconception that dementia and Alzheimer’s are one in the same. However, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, whereas Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. The early stages of dementia are typically categorised by memory loss (as a symptom), but such that normal daily functioning is impaired by this symptom. We all get a bit forgetful at times but don’t worry – this doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with developing dementia! Dementia is typically a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular Dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Many of the predisposing factors associated with dementia are genetic and there is not a lot that can be done that can alter genetic makeup. However, other risk factors associated with dementia include:
The importance of physical exercise should also not be downplayed and a balanced diet has proven to have one of the greatest impacts on the brain’s overall health. As the saying goes: you are what you eat!
Unfortunately, at this stage, there is no known cure for Dementia and no known treatments that can slow or stop its progression. There are some medication treatments that can temporarily improve symptoms associated with Dementia.
Like many chronic illnesses, dementia is a progressive condition, categorised by different stages associated with an increasing severity of symptoms. At the early stages of dementia, symptoms may include functional memory loss where details of recent events cannot be easily recalled.
This progresses to confusion and disorientation, particularly in unfamiliar settings, through the moderate stage of dementia. Ultimately, the condition requires total assistance with everyday living.
People with advanced dementia typically suffer from a loss of speech, restlessness and often an inability to recognise friends and family.
Although the condition and its associated symptoms are progressive, it is critical to remember that some things never change; one of those things being that the person inside still lives on, although their symptoms may suggest otherwise.
One of Allity’s core principles is that all our residents are treated as individuals. We actively encourage our employees to know and understand all the wonderful and unique things that make our residents who they are, and to explore the wonderful lives they’ve lived before residing in our homes.
Allity’s approach to dementia and to care generally focusses on three key principles:
Look out for our second instalment on Dementia, coming soon.
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