Guide to Dementia Symptoms and Information

You've probably heard the term dementia before, whether from friends, or the media, or perhaps from doctors, and you may have been uncertain about what it means. In fact, a fair amount of confusion and misconception surrounds dementia. The media, and even some in the medical community, have increasingly begun to use the word "dementia" as a synonym for Alzheimer's disease. It's perhaps a less upsetting term than Alzheimer's precisely because of its vagueness, but that doesn't mean the two are equivalent. Having Alzheimer's means having a disease that will cause one kind of dementia, but having dementia doesn't necessarily mean having Alzheimer's.

 

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All About Dementia Treatment

When someone in your life shows the signs of dementia, just figuring out what to do next can feel overwhelming. As caregivers, we can feel angry, devastated or simply powerless. Arming yourself with information can help: researching what dementia treatment options are out there and which ones might be right for your loved one. Depending on what the specific cause of the dementia is, you might choose to treat the underlying condition or its symptoms. There are also a number of alternative treatments, home remedies and assisted living options to make day-to-day life more comfortable and ease the difficulties caused by dementia.

 

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7 Dementia Stages

What does it mean when we talk about dementia stages? Simply put, dividing the course of dementia into stages gives medical professionals and caregivers alike a yardstick by which we can measure the progress of a person's cognitive health or decline, and from there, determine a course of treatment appropriate to their condition. 

Often, the course of Alzheimer's disease is categorized according to mild, moderate, or severe Alzheimer's, but many clinical providers further subdivide dementia into a seven-stage scale called the Reisberg Scale, named for New York University physician and noted expert on aging, Dr. Barry Reisberg.

 

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What is Dementia?

As caregivers, it can be terrifying to imagine our loved ones forgetting cherished memories or being unable to recognize those closest to them. But the possibility of older-age dementia is one we can't afford to forget.

According to the CDC, at least 25% of caregivers for adults over age 50 are looking after someone with cognitive impairment or dementia. This is a sobering statistic, but there is hope, too--learning about the underlying causes of dementia can help caregivers stay alert to the signs of illness and ensure that their older loved ones have the care they need in their golden years.

 

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Alzheimer's Aggression and Care for Alzheimer's

Charlie Powell feels like he lost his dad a long time ago.

His dad, who has Alzheimer's disease, doesn't just forget who Powell is-he sometimes becomes violent.

"Once, me and mom disabled his car so that he couldn't drive it, and he soon realized what we'd done," Powell, 50, says. "He rushed across the living room and literally growled at me like a bear in the most frightful way. Thirty seconds later, he didn't know he'd done it, and everything was fine."

The "bear incident" is just one of many that eventually caused Powell and his family to put their 86-year-old father into a nursing home. "Once, the doctors noticed that mom's eardrums were both ruptured, and they realized dad probably slapped her upside the head and cupped her ears."

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Alzheimer's Warning Signs

Some change in memory is normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are more than simple lapses in memory. 

People with Alzheimer's experience difficulties communicating, learning, thinking and reasoning - problems severe enough to have an impact on an individual's work, social activities and family life. 

The Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms to help you recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of Alzheimer's disease. 

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