Dementia – are you prepared if a loved one develops it?

If someone close to you were to be diagnosed with Dementia, it can be a huge shock. As it is hugely surprising the amount of people who put the condition down as simply getting old.

And with over 800,000 people here in the UK living with a form of dementia, it is a common condition. However, what does this actually mean to the person living with dementia and those around them? According to my ongoing reading into the condition, Dementia describes a range of symptoms that includes memory loss, confusion, mood swings and speech problems. These symptoms all being caused by a range of specific conditions and diseases. Dementia is a term that doctors used to describe a number of various symptoms resulting in problems with a person’s memory and cognition. Dementia is also a progressive condition, which means that symptoms will worsen over time as parts of the brain become damaged.

The risk factors Age is the biggest risk factor. However, keeping yourself healthy and active is a bonus, so not everybody will develop the condition. Current statistics say that Dementia affects 1 in 50 people aged between 65 and 70 years old in the UK. And as many as 1 in 5 aged over 80. Other risk factors include high blood pressure or cholesterol, heart disease and strokes. And also head or neck injuries.

What is Alzheimer’s One of the most common forms of Dementia is Alzheimer’s which affects almost 500,000 people in the UK. Nearly two thirds of those diagnosed with Dementia have Alzheimer’s. Although, scientists do not fully understand what causes it, it is known that the condition causes the brain cells to die. Additionally, people with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of important and much needed chemical in their brain. These chemicals are involved with the transmission of messages within the brain. The Warning Signs Short-Term memory loss, such as always forgetting important dates and names, is one of the first clear signs of Alzheimer’s. Other symptoms can include getting muddled and confused about the time of day, becoming disorientated, reduced judgement, and being unable to find the correct words and easily irritated and agitated. Treatment An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is crucial for getting the right treatment and support. Doctors can undertake a simple test that sometimes involves a physical examination and blood test. A Neurologist, a Geriatric Medical professional or even a Psychiatrist can get involved in the examination process. Upon diagnosis, it can be safely said that there is no cure, however doctors can prescribe drugs to slow down the progression and speed of the illness. Care Looking after anyone living with dementia can sometimes be a challenging and daunting experience. As a sufferer of Alzheimer’s is prone to changes in their personality and so be very traumatic for the Carer. A dementia sufferer can also have outbursts of aggression and even hallucinations. If you have concerns about someone who may have Dementia, then you should consult your GP asap for a consultation. Support and help is available for both patients and carers via the following organisations:

Alzheimer’s Society Provides Information and advice on Alzheimer’s.

Dementia UK Provides support for those affected by dementia.

Alzheimer’s Research UK A leading Alzheimer’s research charity.

Brace A charity that funds research into Alzheimer’s.

Carers UK A charity that provides support and information for Carers.

Helpful tips in keeping a healthy mind, and reduce your chances of developing Dementia:

Regular exercise is essential for boosting circulation, maintaining good blood flow to the brain and so encourage new brain cells.

Mental Stimulation – whether it’s having an active social life, doing crosswords, playing cards or board games or simply taking part in quizzes.

Diet – a good healthy diet that is rich in fruit and dark green leafy vegetables such as Spinach apparently helps protect brain cells.

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