Memory Loss & Dementia
What is it? How does it happen?
Memory loss can occur for a myriad of reasons. It is most common in the elderly population; 80% of octogenarians have memory loss. Dementia is memory loss caused by an underlying neurodegenerative condition. There are many types of dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s Dementia.
Dementia is much like watching the effects of time on an old barn: it becomes a shell, and it does not function the way it once did. Such, unfortunately, becomes the case for dementia patients, as they become a shell of their former selves, their brain no longer able to function the way it once did. Dementia will continue to progress with time.
What Does Dementia feel like?
Signs and symptoms
Progressive Memory Loss, which may manifest as:
- Forgetting to pay bills
- Neglecting household responsibilities and maintenance
- Burning food, leaving on the stove/oven
- Getting lost in familiar neighborhoods
- Poor job performance
- Forgetting names & faces
- Personality changes
- Changes in sleep quality and habits
- Losing track of date or time
Who typically gets it?
The neuropathologic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Dementia include the build up of metabolites in the brain tissue, called plaques and tangles. The cause is not yet completely elucidated, though this is an area of active research.
What can be done if I have dementia?
Memory Preserving Medications
These medications aim to preserve the memories remaining and slow the progression of memory loss.
It may be useful to consider cognitive therapy, biofeedback, psychology/psychiatry referrals, based on your specific needs.
This is a PhD who specializes in cognitive testing and diagnosis, and may be very helpful in cases of early onset dementia, consideration of dementia mimics, and multiple dementia types.
Caring for the Caregiver
The most important aspect of treatment and care for the dementia patient is the caretaker. This is an important conversation to begin early, even if it may seem too soon, in order to fully understand the patient and family's wishes. In the early stages, this may be checking in with the family member daily, but it will eventually progress to one of many situations: moving in with them, arranging for round-the-clock home nursing staff, assisted living facilities, nursing facility with a dementia unit. The best choice for your family member is likely going to be unique for each family, and it is important to have your specific need in mind, as well.
Caregiver fatigue is a very real concern. No matter how you choose to care for your family member, be certain it is sustainable and healthy for all involved.
How can MIND help?
Not only do we consult on your case to perform a Root Cause Analysis, we will look for additional ways to maintain good quality of life and mental acuity as long as possible.
The Bottom Line
Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative condition, meaning the disease process will continue to progress over time.
There is no cure for dementia, but early diagnosis is paramount. There is good evidence to show that early intervention can lead to preserved quality of life and longer memory retention.
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