Senior Dementia: Is Your Loved One Part Of The 47.5 Million?

Posted by Machelle Thompson on Jun 12, 2015 11:22:00 AM

senior-dementia-careA new case of dementia is diagnosed every four seconds, and the number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated to be 47.5 million, with that number set to nearly double by 2030, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

When it comes to your loved one, you need to be vigilant to ensure that any emerging signs or symptoms of dementia are addressed as early as possible.

Equally important, you also need to determine what level of long-term care your loved one needs in this new season of life. In their current circumstances, they may only require hourly living assistance a few days a week, or they may need 24-hour, in-home care.

No matter your loved one’s situation, the first step toward better care always starts with educating yourself about dementia. Here are the most important facts you need to know about caring for a loved one with senior dementia:

Dementia Defined

Dementia is a disease of aging and might be caused by a variety of medical reasons, including:

  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Strokes
  • Transient mild strokes (TIAs)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease
  • Brain trauma
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiac issues

Dementia Vs. Delirium

Dementia demonstrates a slow onset of symptoms and progressively gets worse over time, unlike delirium. Delirium requires urgent medical attention, even though it mimics some symptoms of dementia.

Delirium has a sudden onset of symptoms (including hallucinations) due to factors such as:

  • Infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Dehydration
  • Medication mismanagement

Once the underlying medical issue is addressed, delirium should be resolved, and your loved one should return to normal levels of functioning.

Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

Many family members misunderstand the distinction between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but that distinction could make all the difference to your loved one’s diagnosis and care.

Dementia only refers to a set of symptoms, not any particular disease itself. While Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-70% of all cases of dementia, there are other disorders that cause dementia as well, including:

  • Vascular dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia

The only way to know the specific cause of your loved one’s dementia symptoms is to have them diagnosed by a medical professional.

Detecting Dementia In Your Loved One

Determining your aging loved one’s dementia symptoms is a complex process, but the following are common indicators that dementia care might be required:

  • Personality changes, including self-isolation or angry outbursts
  • Changes in personal appearance or grooming standards
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly, although they have been discussed or answered
  • Periods of confusion or recollection of events that did not occur
  • Difficulty with sequencing regular activities
  • Getting lost while driving or while in a store
  • Decline in walking or overall coordination
  • Frequent or relentless phone calls to a loved one or someone else

If your loved one is experiencing one or more of the signs or symptoms listed above, you should consult with a physician immediately for a diagnosis or assessment. Addressing your loved one’s dementia as soon as possible is vital to understanding the cause of their condition, as well as ensuring they receive the right level of senior care services to keep them safe, independent and healthy.

Unsure whether your loved one might have dementia or need extra care? Take the Keen Home Care Challenge and assess what level of in-home care your aging loved one needs.

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