Every year in September, people gather around the world to commemorate World Alzheimer Month. This movement aims to raise awareness of this neurological condition and question the stigma that surrounds it.
Many of us tend to use the terms “Alzheimer’s” and “dementia” interchangeably.
However, they’re not exactly the same, and you shouldn’t be using them loosely without understanding the differences.
In fact, this year’s theme revolves around diagnosis and the power of knowledge. What are the signs of dementia and how does it differ from Alzheimer’s?
Knowing the differences can help you manage the condition better and achieve the correct diagnosis that can be key to early treatment.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of diseases with similar attributes of neurological decline. It generally involves the loss of memory, language and other cognitive abilities.
Even though it refers to cognitive diseases, it can also affect a sufferer’s feelings, relationships and behaviour.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, and is the most common under dementia. In fact, it’s responsible for about 60 to 80 percent of cases.
What Causes Human Dementia?
Dementia is a result of damage to brain cells. This obstructs the cells’ natural ability to communicate with each other. This affects behaviour, thinking and feelings.
Our brains are made up of different regions with separate functions. When the brain cells of any region are impaired, it affects the regular functioning of that part.
Signs of Dementia
There are various signs of dementia. They include:
Trouble with daily activities
Changes in thinking abilities
Confusion over time and space
Prevention of Dementia
There are some risk factors that cannot be avoided, like hereditary- and age-related causes.
However, research suggests that implementing various types of healthy lifestyle habits like a healthy diet, routine exercise, avoidance of smoking, alcohol and stress, can help to reduce this risk.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With Dementia?
The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with dementia differs.
For example, if the person is diagnosed much later in life, around 80 to 90 years old, the life expectancy is shorter.
The typical expectancy is between 8 and 10 years, but some people may live for longer, between 15 and 20 years.
Seven Stages of Dementia
There are seven known stages of dementia.
No neurological impairment
Extremely mild neurological impairment
Mild neurological impairment
Fair neurological impairment
Fairly severe neurological impairment
Severe neurological impairment (middle dementia)
Extremely severe neurological impairment (late dementia)
Treatment for Dementia
Although most progressive types of dementias are incurable, there are medications that may help to slow the worsening of the symptoms and boost the quality of life for patients and caregivers.
At What Point Do Dementia Patients Need 24-Hour Care?
Nobody enjoys sending their loved ones into a facility to manage them round the clock, but sometimes, it has to be done.
Trying to avoid this development or living in denial can cause more harm than good to the patient.
One way to decide whether a patient requires 24-hour care is when symptoms have progressed to the extent that round the clock care is necessary.
This includes symptoms like:
Displaying aggressive behaviour
Presence of accidents at home
The patient’s needs are beyond the caregiver’s abilities
Greater risk of wandering about
Irrational behaviour in the late afternoon or early evening, also known as sundowning
Apart from 24-hour care, you can also consider a house call doctor to help you manage your condition. Another safer alternative is engaging telemedicine consultation services to handle it with a medical professional.