Knowing more about dementia makes caregiving easier
To provide great care and reduce your own stress, the first step is to find out more about the disease. Getting a better understanding of the basics takes away some of the uncertainty and anxiety.
We worked with The Center for Dementia Care at Seniors At Home, the in-home care division of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, to get expert answers to 5 top questions about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
5 frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s and dementia
1. What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Dementia is a broad term that describes changes in the brain’s ability to process information. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. It’s the most common type and accounts for 60 – 80% of all dementia cases.
There are many different types of dementia other than Alzheimer’s, but that’s the one most people have heard of. The second most common type is vascular dementia which often develops after stroke or mini strokes.
2. Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. These are progressive diseases that will get worse over time.
Some medications may reduce symptoms in some people, but don’t always work for everyone. Medications usually works better earlier in the disease process, so it’s best to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.
The best approach to managing the disease is to work with a supportive medical team and take advantage of resources that help with day-to-day challenges.
3. How can I tell if someone’s forgetfulness is part of normal aging vs. a sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia?
It’s natural to worry, but don’t jump to conclusions. Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms usually start gradually and change someone’s ability to perform familiar daily tasks.
For example, normal forgetfulness would be to forget where you left your keys (again!). But a sign of dementia might be if you couldn’t figure out how to use the keys.
4. How can I prevent the disease from getting worse?
Because there isn’t a cure, there isn’t a way to stop the disease from progressing. In some cases, medications can reduce symptoms or slow the progression. Talk with the medical team to find out if medication would be helpful.
Living a healthy lifestyle is important for both the person with dementia and for you. It could help slow the disease progression and certainly won’t cause any negative effects.
Top ways to live a healthy lifestyle:
- Have a balanced, healthy diet of fresh foods
- Exercise to stay fit and active
- Add fun, no-fail activities into the daily routine – like listening to music, creating art, or doing simple puzzles
- Get plenty of good-quality sleep at night
- Reduce stress and frustration
- Keep a positive attitude
5. Why does the behavior and abilities of someone with dementia change from day to day?
It’s typical for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia to have ups and downs in mood. It’s also typical for someone to behave “normally” one day and then to have dementia symptoms seem really obvious on another day. Sometimes, these changes could even happen within one day.
For some, minor things like eating too much sugar or not sleeping well the night before can have a noticeable effect in a person with dementia.
What helps minimize mood and behavior swings is to minimize stress for your older adult. Establishing a daily routine helps your senior get into a regular daily rhythm. On a subconscious level, this eases stress because they know what’s next on the agenda.
For example, every day:
- Wake and sleep at the same time
- Eat meals and snacks at the same time
- Take bathroom breaks at regular 1-2 hour intervals (even if it’s just to try)
- Start winding down an hour before bedtime with non-stimulating activities — like listening to soft classical music in a room with low lighting
- Create a calm and comfortable sleep environment
Recommended for you:
- 3 Stages of Dementia: What to Expect
- 3 Ways to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Says I Want to Go Home
- Why Experts Recommend Lying to Someone with Dementia
Seniors At Home helps older adults live independently and provides peace of mind to their families. We partner with you to solve problems, enhance quality of life, and provide a safe and supportive living environment. Our comprehensive services include non-medical home care, geriatric care management, palliative care, dementia care center, fiduciary services, and more. For more information, please contact us at 415-968-0145 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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