June 18 Hangout:
What you should know about dementia.
Chances are you know someone with dementia. Dementia is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is reported in as many as 1 in every 100 adults age 60. Additionally, it has been estimated that the frequency of dementia doubles every five years after age 65.
As every one of us is getting older (sorry!), we felt it was of vital importance to get the facts on this common condition. The Willow Park Citizens Group invited certified dementia consultant Janet Standifer, M.Ed. CCC/SLP to share her understanding with us at the Hangout June 18, and here is her advice:
What should we do if dementia is suspected?
Since there are over 47 types of dementia, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor. Dementia is not a diagnosis; dementia is a syndrome - an umbrella term. It means that two or more parts of the brain are dying, is progressive, irreversible and there currently is no cure for it. The physician should diagnose the type of the dementia and outline steps to take, including, but not limited to, medications. The medication prescribed will vary depending on the diagnosis. Additionally, many patients look for more than one professional opinion.
Can other diseases have the same symptoms as dementia?
Knowing the type of dementia, allows caregivers an idea on how rapidly the rate of the progression may occur, so that they can be more prepared. Dementia is usually asymmetrical and usually starts on the left side of the brain. If symptoms start on the right side, it could be, but not always, related to vascular issues. Other diagnoses that are not dementia but show a change in mental status include delirium, depression or infections such as a UTI. Immediate medical attention is required if this should occur.
Is dementia a mental or physical illness?
Indications of brain changes can actually be seen on an MRI. The area of the brain called the hippocampus (area that forms new memories) is impacted and appears smaller with Alzheimer's disease. We also look at the amygdala, an almond shape set of neurons located in the medial temporal lobe that plays a key role in processing emotions. We can't reverse chemical changes in the brain with medication, however, the medications may temporarily improve dementia symptoms by boosting levels of a chemical messenger, which is involved in memory and cognitive skills. And while nutrition does not reverse chemical changes either, good nutrition is highly important for the health, independence, and well being of people with dementia. It is a challenge, however, since the dementia eventually affects swallowing skills and unwanted weight loss.
What can we do to slow down the progress of dementia?
There are lots of opportunities to protect your brain! Diet and exercise are extremely important. Detoxing the body of chemicals and other toxins should be part of a daily regimen. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that helps keep inflammation down and builds the immune system. Brain exercises like crossword or jigsaw puzzles, math problems, and writing longhand all give your brain a workout.
What’s the best way to show care to a loved one with dementia?
Be encouraging. Keep them engaged and independent as long as possible. It's important to not take away many activities as soon as your loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Try to substitute instead of take away. Keeping them active may reduce the rapid rate of decline in cognitive skills. Make sure they are safe, whatever they are doing. Let them drive short trips until they start showing signs of safety issues when driving. Let them continue to do things like shopping, even if you have to take them to the store. Let them make their own decisions with a guarded eye.
QUOTE OF THE HANGOUT: “Human nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were put on this Earth to rise above.” – Kathryn Hepburn, from movie African Queen
18 June, 2019 Tuesday,
WPCG Hangout AM (Archives)
Senior Topics and EPC Senior Servies Network
7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Café 23:5, Shops at Willow Park
free, informal, come and go
Guest: Janet Standifer, M.Ed. CCC/SLP
Topic: Dementia in Perspective
“The mission is to increase awareness and knowledge about dementia with families, healthcare professionals, and non-healthcare communities including businesses and local organizations.”