Caring For A Parent With Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people affected by dementia in the USA is on the rise, with over 6 million suffering with some form of the disease.  Dementia is a deterioration in mental capability, with 60-80 percent of these cases being Alzheimer’s and the second most common being vascular dementia, which can appear after a stroke.  Damage to the brain cells, which often happens with age, disrupts the cells interacting with each other and causes many debilitating symptoms.  What happens when a parent starts to show these signs and what can their child actively do to help them?

 

SIGNS OF DEMENTIA

  • Forgetfulness and memory issues can happen to all of us and may be due to many reasons. Vitamin deficiency, depression, stress or thyroid.  When a parent forgets recently learned information, important dates or repeats a question a few times, this maybe a sign of dementia.
  • Lack of concentration. An inability to complete a simple task due to a wandering mind.
  • Logic and decision. An incoherency in logical thought pattern and the lack of decisive decisions.
  • Confusion with time and place. Trouble understanding the present and the future.
  • Fear and suspicion.
  • Repeating and sometimes forgetting words to use.
  • Changes in mood and personality. People with Alzheimer’s can become easily confused, anxious, depressed and even aggressive.
  • Not wanting to socialize. The early onset of dementia can be recognized by the sufferer, causing them to retract from social interaction or hobbies.

 

Caring For A Parent With Dementia

 

Once recognizing the signs, make sure the parent sees a doctor as soon as possible, in order to try and minimize the brain cell damage and provide drugs or therapy to help with memory loss and symptoms of confusion.  The  Alzheimer’s Association is in the process of researching and diagnozing symptoms before they fully develop, in the hope they may stop the disease before brain damage and mental capacity declines.

 

 

WHERE SHOULD THE PARENT LIVE?

Dementia can be challenging, not only for the sufferer, but their family too. If possible, relatives should discuss living options with the patient, before the disease progresses to the stage where they don’t understand what is being said to them.  Many dementia suffers stay at home for the first years of the disease, but it is essential that the following care is considered, depending on finances and development stage:

  • Home care. There are many options for home care from domestic work, nursing healthcare, and agencies that specialize in dementia care.
  • Respite care. If relatives are taking care of the family relation, it is important that they have periodic relief from being the sole care giver.  Most care agencies offer a respite service.
  • Assisted Living. Ideal for patients who require help preparing meals, bathing and dressing but do not need any special medical needs.  They live in their own apartment or share a residence, which gives a feeling of independence.
  • Dementia special care. Special dementia care units are often found in residential care homes.  With staff who are especially trained for the requirements of a dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferer.

 

 

HOME SAFETY TIPS

Staying at home maybe a feasible option for the first stage of dementia, but it is crucial to have certain safety measures in place, so the family member is protected and the caregiver has piece of mind.

Particular attention should be spent of securing certain areas of the home:

  • Consider taking knobs off the stove.  Appliances should have an automatic switch off feature and be away from any water sources.  Remove sharp knives.
  • Remove any hazardous chemicals and keep tools locked away.
  • Make sure chemicals are locked away.  Have safety bars installed so that the parent can lift themselves with ease.
  • Fire alarm/carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure all safety devices are inspected on a regular basis.
  • Keep the home well lit. Use natural light were possible avoiding florescent light which may aggravate dementia sufferers.

 

 

HELPING A PARENT WITH DEMENTIA

When a parent is in the early stages of dementia they are likely to feel scared, stressed and worried. Creating a regular routine will help them feel more secure in their home.  Encourage them and try not to be critical or frustrated with their behavior.  This is difficult at times, when the caregiver maybe tired and anxious too.  Giving small responsibilities in the early stages, for example polishing the furniture or laying the dinner table, will create self worth.  There are a number of devices to help a parent, especially in the onset of dementia.

  • Memory aids. Pictures used around the house to identify where things are kept.  An example of this would be a picture of mugs on a kitchen cupboard.
  • Hobbies. Going for small regular walks, food shopping, having family and friends visit are a few suggestions to keep active and engaged.
  • Diet and exercise is very important for dementia sufferers. The longer they have mobility and nutrition the better quality of life they will have.  A recent study from the AHA Stroke Journals states chances of suffering a stroke or getting dementia increases three times if an individual drinks soda everyday.
  • Schedule regular medical visits.
  • Join a support group.  It is important for the caregiver to have support too.  Depression in caregivers who look after dementia sufferers is very common so this is imperative.
  • Plan for the future. Know your options of living arrangements for when the disease progresses.
  • Simplify directions by sticking to one instruction, allowing time for response.
  • Avoid confrontation or disagreement. Dementia affects rationality and logic.
  • Paper work. Sorting parent’s financial affairs is important.  If possible, arrange power of attorney before the dementia has progressed.  Each state is different in terms of laws. Contact the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for further information.

 

 

RESOURCES

Louis Theroux Extreme Love Dementia

AHA Stroke Journal

 CBS News Lowering risk of dementia

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/411292?redirect=true

 

Can You Recognize Early Signs of Dementia?

Because there’s a heightened awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia, do you worry that you or a loved one may be afflicted? Fortunately, there are tests and ways to determine if a diagnosis is in order. But, before seeking medical assistance, do you think you can recognize early signs of dementia?

Looking for Signs…

There has been lot of attention in the media and in medical literature in the past decade in regards to dementia. That is a good thing. If you or a friend or family member discovers neurological changes early on, you can take steps to impede the disease’s progress.

On the other hand, some people are prone to panicking. Just because they left their keys in the front door doesn’t mean they necessarily have Alzheimer’s. Memory loss can be quite common, especially if you’re under a considerable amount of stress. If a person can carry on his/her day with normalcy, (even forgetting a thing or two), chances are it’s not dementia setting in.

Should Women Worry Early?

A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center showed that women going through menopause often struggle with mundane mental tasks. Hormonal changes definitely interfere with memory function. However, stress (also brought on by hormones) can be identified as one of the main culprits of memory interference.

Women (and men) can experience minor cognitive temporary impairment, but it’s not necessarily early signs of dementia. Most noteworthy, the cause is stress. Common stressors are:

  • job pressure
  • parenting
  • finances
  • caretaking aging parents
  • health concerns

As a result, we may experience a lack of sleep, anxiety, and chemical changes in our brain. However, with stress reduction, our bodies and minds can heal, and adverse symptoms should dissipate.

The Reality of Dementia and its Signs

Remember: we all can become forgetful at times, but it doesn’t necessarily affect our daily life in a crucial way. With dementia, however, mental ability declines to such an extent that everyday life becomes adversely affected. Additionally, there are several various forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common.

Clearly, it’s easier to detect signs that are blatant, such as not remembering whom anyone is or not being remembered by a close, loved one. But, there are symptoms that appear early on. Unfortunately, most of them gradually worsen over time.

 

  • Time confusion. Patients get confused by what time it is, what time things are supposed to happen, or time to be somewhere. Often they don’t remember the day or date either.

 

  • Age confusion. They forget how old they are. They are disoriented by years as well.

 

  • Location confusion. Dementia sufferers sometimes cannot decipher where they are or where they need to go.

 

  • Loss of personal items. Early on, patients may misplace key, wallets, glasses, etc. As the disease progresses, more items become “lost” and often the person may claim that someone is stealing from them.

 

  • Losing items. Many times the items are misplaced but the patient claims they’re lost. They also often become paranoid that people are stealing their “lost” belongings.

 

  • Detail confusion. Attention to detail may wane. This could include personal hygiene. A scary and common convoluted detail can be surrounding money. Someone with dementia may hoard money. Conversely, he may also give away money freely—even to a stranger.

 

  • Retracing steps confusion. Cognitively, those with dementia have little or no ability to retrace where they’ve been or what they’ve done.

Taking Early Action

If you feel you may be experiencing these above symptoms, check in with your health care professional for advice. If another close to you is displaying symptoms, try and get them some help as soon as possible. Furthermore, there is ample research showing that early detection, along with treatment and healthy lifestyle changes can help thwart rapid progression of dementia.

Proper rest and decreasing stress are priority. Good nutrition, including supplements such as turmeric (as an anti-inflammatory) and cinnamon (for the blood and brain).

             

For more tips on family health, check out other articles on GetThrive!

 

Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/menopause-symptoms-memory-loss_n_2397936.html

https://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp

https://www.alzheimers.net/2014-07-02/cinnamon-prevents-alzheimers/

 

Just Forgetful or Do You Have Symptoms of Dementia?

Everyone experiences bouts of forgetfulness, regardless of age. But as you and your loved ones get older, do you wonder if it’s the onset of dementia?

Dementia: Definition vs. False Symptoms

You’re talking to a friend about a movie you love—but you can’t remember the title. You just saw it! That example would not be a symptom of dementia.

Forgetting names or where you put your sunglasses is most commonly a result of other factors, non-neurological ones. Memory loss that does not disrupt you from carrying on your day with normalcy is common—especially if you’re under stress.

Types of Stress That Create Forgetful Symptoms

Adults have stressors that could cause us to be concerned for our mental health. Midlife stressors tend to be the most pronounced. Women, in particular, experience brain fog around menopausal years. Menopause and hormonal changes may interfere with memory, but mostly the culprit is stress.

Some stressors that might make us think we’re beginning to suffer from dementia are: work, parenting, aging parents, finances, and health concerns. The effects of these factors lead to a lack of sleep, anxiety, and depression. All of those contribute to minor cognitive temporary impairment. But it’s still not dementia.

Dementia and Its True Signs

By medical definition, dementia is a severe decline in mental ability where daily life is significantly disrupted. There are several different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common, accounting for 60-80 percent of cases.

There are a handful of particular signs that may point towards the existence of dementia. The symptoms start out gradually and get worse over time. Some are:

  • Confusion with locations. Often the person doesn’t know where they are or where they need to go.

  • Confusion with time. There’s a disorientation of time of day or even of what year it is. Sometimes the patient is confused about his/her own age.

  • Challenges with following or joining conversations. Words become problematic either in writing, speaking, or both.

  • Losing items. Many times the items are misplaced, but the patient claims they’re lost. They also often become paranoid that people are stealing their “lost” belongings.

  • Inability to retrace steps. With full cognitive ability, we’re able to retrace our steps to rediscover where we’ve been and what we’ve done. Dementia patients cannot do that.

  • Change in attention to detail. This could be personal grooming or finances, for example. A person with dementia might freely donate an irrational amount of money to a cause they’d never been involved with before. They may stop bathing or eating regularly.

All of the above are serious symptoms and clearly, affect the person from carrying out daily tasks without assistance.

Midlife Dementia

Dr. Victor W. Henderson, a Professor at Stanford University, points out that midlife dementia is rare. Two-thirds of those over 60 years old with dementia are linked to having Alzheimer’s.

He does claim, however, “Cognitive impairment and dementia are (also) linked to health and lifestyle factors.” So taking care of oneself throughout life may impede the onset of such a condition.

Proper nutrition is a tremendous factor in maintaining good health. Of course, proper rest and stress-reduction also play a beneficial role. Other activities that are important are physical and mental ones. Experts agree that exercising your muscles as well as your brain can help boost memory and enhance neural efficiency.

Fresh foods, fresh air, good friends, and a challenging crossword puzzle are just some of the tools we can keep close by to keep dementia at a distance.

Can Internal Inflammation Be Causing Your Skin to Age?

A logical cause for wrinkles would be unprotected sun exposure. Another would be simply a product of aging. But, guess what? Inflammation in your gut is a guilty party too when it comes to creating visible age lines.

What’s To Get Inflamed About?

Just like when something annoys you emotionally, and then it puts you over-the-top, you get inflamed. You overreact and have a mini-explosion. The same thing happens when a germ or bacteria annoys your body. There’s a cellular response that causes inflammation.

On the outside of your body, let’s say from a bug bite or an infected cut, the skin will turn red, hot, and swell. Now imagine the same response in your stomach from a food or toxin that your body perceives as an unwelcomed guest, an invader. In the most simplistic terms, that’s what inflammation looks like inside your body.

Inflammation is Not a Good Guy or Gal

Just because you don’t see what’s going on inside your body doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Or, be oblivious to it. Knowledge is power. And now the knowledge is about providing and maintaining your good health.

Inflammation has been linked to type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and cancer, not to mention other autoimmune disorders and other diseases. That’s scary. And serious. Most of these conditions are related to high-grade inflammation, especially over a long period of time.

Aging too Young

Even low-grade inflammation can wreak havoc on the health of our body. It compromises balance. What happens is that our body is constantly reacting—it’s fighting against something, even if it’s just a minor battle. But what occurs is that the constant fighting causes a breakdown, which in turn, causes aging.

Inflammation happens when toxins invade our bloodstream, and much of the time, we don’t even know it. And unfortunately, visible signs of aging become more apparent when inflammation increases.

Signs You My Be Suffering From Inflammation

Premature development of, or excessive wrinkles

-Acid reflux

-Arthritic pain

-Constant fatigue

-Type-2 diabetes

-Alzheimer’s

-Autoimmune disorders (Crohn’s, celiac, vitiligo, colitis, among others)

How Does This Happen?

Some doctors will explain that there is no explanation. However, research can point to several specific links to inflammation. It can be one culprit or a combination of a few.

FOOD ALLERGIES. You may not be aware of allergies or sensitivities if, for example, you don’t break out into a rash. But consider that processed foods, sugar, and wheat (among other sources) may cause an internal reaction. This chronic, low-grade reaction to the sensitivity (inflammation) can cause constipation, diarrhea, bloating, foggy brain, tiredness, and weight gain, among other symptoms.

-STRESS. Stress releases the hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol over time create inflammation.

TOXINS. Toxins enter our body through food (from pesticides, soil, antibiotics, etc.), our skin (from cosmetics, lotions, etc.), breathing polluted air and drinking water (smoke, heavy metals, etc.). Environmental toxins can cause inflammation.

OVERCONSUMPTION. Too much candy, soda, (refined sugars), caffeine, and/or alcohol increase toxicity in your body.

LACK OF SLEEP AND EXERCISE. Self-explanatory.

How Can I Decrease Inflammation?

The answer to decreasing inflammation can be lengthy and complex. In order to present a brief, yet valid response, we can focus on a few key positive lifestyle changes:

1)Get enough sleep.

2)Cut down (or cut out) processed foods, sugar, dairy, and bad fats. Add into your diet: fresh, organic fruits and veggies, lean proteins, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

3)Exercise. Even a brisk daily walk will make a difference. Getting outdoors is a double bonus (helps reduce stress.)

4)Practice stress-reduction techniques. Meditate, breathe deeply, draw, or skydive. Whatever gets you into your zen-zone, do it!

5)Cut down (or cut out) using skin care or beauty products with chemicals such as parabens, phthlates, BHA, BHT, synthetic fragrances, etc.

6)Engage in a safe health program that allows for gradual detoxification. Incorporate natural elements like green tea, lemons, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic.

Always check with your physician before embarking on any kind of diet or detox. Choosing healthy lifestyle practices will naturally allow your body to reduce inflammation. For more articles geared toward keeping you and your family’s best health in mind, check out Thrive!