What is Dementia?
Posted: 4/25/2017 6:41 AM by
Do you worry about your parent having dementia? If so, you’re not alone. Many people who face acting as caregivers for their elderly parents fear this devastating and difficult condition, but sometimes people don’t fully understand what dementia is. Dementia is not actually a disease itself, but instead is a term that refers to a set of symptoms that affect a person’s memory so severely that they interfere with normal life. There are several conditions that cause memory loss. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s Disease, but that does not mean that having dementia means that your parent has Alzheimer’s Disease. If you’re wondering about dementia and what it could mean in terms of acting as a caregiver for your parent, we hope the information below will help shed some light on the subject.
Knowing the Risk Factors
The risk factors for dementia include both risks that you have no control over, and risks that you can help your parent to reduce. The risk factors that cannot be changed are age, genetics, and already having a slight cognitive impairment that affects memory. The risk factors you can help your parent to reduce are the ones that bear focusing on. Those changeable risks include:
Recognizing the Symptoms
- Smoking: If your parent smokes, encourage and help them to stop.
- Sleep apnea: People who snore or temporarily stop breathing while sleeping may suffer from temporary memory loss.
- Alcohol consumption: People who drink heavily are at a greater risk for developing dementia.
- Diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk, and the risk grows in cases where diabetes is uncontrolled.
- Heart-related factors: If your parent has high cholesterol, hypertension, or atherosclerosis, they are at an increased risk for dementia.
- Obesity: Excess weight plays a role in increasing the risk of dementia.
There is a great deal of variance in dementia symptoms, but there are some main memory functions that must be affected for dementia to be present. At least two of the following must be present:
In monitoring your parent for signs of dementia, watch for the following signs:
- Memory loss.
- Decreased ability to pay attention or focus.
- Impairment of judgement or reasoning.
- Changes in visual perception.
- Problems with language or communication.
- Trouble with losing important items, such as a purse or wallet.
- Problems with remembering to pay bills or being unable to focus on the task of paying bills.
- Forgetting about important appointments.
- Cooking meals or planning for meals.
- Getting lost easily.
Dementia generally gets worse over time. Therefore, people with dementia may eventually require constant care. To help a parent with dementia stay in their home safely for as long as possible, many families hire caregivers to help with the responsibilities. An agency can help match your parent to a caregiver who is experienced in caring for people with dementia and who will be familiar with strategies for managing a dementia patient.
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