Dementia

Statistics
  • Worldwide, there is a new case of dementia every seven seconds. More than 24.3 million people are currently estimated to have dementia, and 4.6 million new cases are diagnosed each year. The rate of dementia is expected to double between 2001 and 2040 in developed nations.  (Alzheimer's Association Statistical Update, 2005)

  • The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease
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        •    Lyme disease, thyroid problems, and low blood sugar can all cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia

        •    The risk of developing Alzheimer’s after age 85 is about 50 percent

        •    Having diabetes is one known risk fact for dementia

        •    Experts recommend lowering your blood pressure and keeping up to date on vaccinations to possibly lower your risk of developing dementia
    (Source: Spokane Valley Hospital Magazine Winter 2012)

  • Good news for grandparents.  A grandchild for one day keeps grandma mentally sharp and keeps dementia away.  Research shows that grandparents who look after their grandchildren at least once a week are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.  The Baptist study showed that post-menopausal women who take care of grandchildren may help them reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline; however, if grandparents were caregivers for 5 days or more, their cognitive function declined.  Although an exact reason for the correlation isn’t clear, researchers speculate that regular social interaction can have a positive effect on seniors.
    “Spending Time with Grandma - Caring for Grandkids may reduce Alzheimer’s risk,” by George McIntyre, CBS This Morning, January 25, 2015.   

    http://wcrz.com/grandparents-who-babysit-are-less-likely-to-develop-alzheimers-video/?trackback=fbshare_mobile_top
"Grandma's brain benefits from time with the little ones," by Jessica Firger, CBS News, April 9, 2014
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/grandmas-brain-benefits-grandchildren-cognition/
What You Can Do
  • Reduce belly fat.  While age is the biggest driver of Alzheimer’s, some of the same factors that trigger heart disease—obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes—seem to increase the risk of dementia, too.  The journal Neurology suggests that having a large belly in middle age triples your chance of having dementia.  This is the deep, inside belly fat which surrounds your organs.
  • Be Aware of Symptoms.
  • Mild symptoms (early onset)
    • Confusion and memory loss
    • Time disorientation
    • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
    • Difficulty in performing routine tasks
    • Noticeable changes in personality, judgment, focus, and attention
  • Intermediate symptoms (intermediate onset)
    • Difficulty in performing normal activities of daily living, such as brushing teeth, bathing, combing hair, and eating
    • Increased anxiety and agitation
    • Disturbed sleep patterns
    • Wandering and pacing
    • Increased difficulty with name and face recognition of family and friends.
  • Severe symptoms (late onset)
    • Loss of speech, writing skills and comprehension
    • Increase in aggressive behavior
    • Loss of bladder and bowel control       (Alzheimer's Research Trust, 2005)
  • Stay Active.  To help prevent memory-robbing diseases, stay physically active.  Any exercise that raises your heart rate for 30-45 minutes several times a week can lower your risk.  
  • Exercise your brain for 15 minutes a day with activities like crossword puzzles.  Those who stimulate their brains the most have a 35-40% less chance of developing symptoms of dementia. 


If you are a Care Giver:

  • See "Care Giving" on this website under the “Health and Medicine” topic. 
  • Prepare a memory book of family pictures, so they can go through those pictures.  That sense of structure and sense of safety and positive feelings will be useful to the patient.  It will also help family members remember who they were before this disease.
  • Do not abandon people who suffer from dementia.  While conversation can be challenging due to their loss of memory and constantly repeating questions and statements, visits still bring happiness and reduce their ever-present depression.  
  • Family input is critical in the screening process.  The doctor needs the observations of family members as much as the dementia patients themselves. 
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