Has someone in your family recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia? Have you been caring for someone with dementia – but are feeling overwhelmed and out of balance? Knowledge is power – learn from our FAQ section and take back control of your situation.
Is Alzheimer’s disease the same thing as dementia?
Dementia covers a variety of brain disorders, but Alzheimer’s disease is just the most common cause. Dementia can also be caused by vascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body disease, chronic brain infections, vitamin deficiencies, problems with the thyroid gland, or even as a result of medication you’re taking to treat another kind of ailment.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
People with dementia may experience loss of memory, a decline in judgment and reasoning, and changes in mood and behavior.
While dementia can go unrecognized for some time, ultimately, these symptoms will begin to adversely affect all aspects of one’s life, from the ability to handle everyday errands like getting groceries or cooking a meal to functioning at work or have relationships.
How is Alzheimer’s disease different from other kinds of dementia?
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not yet determined and its effects are irreversible. However, other kinds of dementia, such as that caused by medication or thyroid disease, can be mitigated and even reversed with the proper treatment.
How common is dementia?
If you know someone with dementia, you are far from alone Over one third of Canadians know someone with dementia, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada; in British Columbia, over 70,000 are living with the disease, a major cause of disability in seniors.
Is there a cure for dementia?
Dementia cannot be cured, but some types, such as vascular dementia, can be prevented through good diet and exercise.
Does dementia only happen to seniors?
No. While dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease does not manifest in younger people, it can show up as early as your 40s or 50s. Other forms of dementia, such as from vascular problems or reactions to medication, can show up even earlier.
What are risk factors for dementia?
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, the greatest factor is age 85, the risk grows to nearly 50 percent. Genes also play a part. Other risk factors that we can control for other types of dementia include excessive alcohol consumption, plaque buildup in your arteries, high or low blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, diabetes, smoking, and obesity.
I’ve noticed some strange behavior in a loved one that I think it might be serious. What are some warning signs of dementia?
There are many signs, which can make it difficult to make a diagnosis without a medical professional who has experience with dementia care. Some signs include:
- Memory loss. A common sign is forgetting names, or mixing up the names of relatives and longtime friends. They may also forget why they came into a room. Occasionally, these symptoms can be very dangerous, such as getting burnt by a hot stove top or a fire started by a lit cigarette..
- Trouble communicating. Reasoning and logic become affected, leading to awkward conversations. They may have trouble finding the right word to express what they want to say, leading to frustration.
- Changes in mood. Depression can be both a cause and a symptom of dementia, not uncommonly leading to difficulty in diagnosing the problem. A formerly shy person might become outgoing, or vice-versa.
- Difficulty performing normal tasks. The cooking or cleaning remains undone, messes pile up and errands get left for another day that never comes. With advanced dementia, this can lead to poor hygiene and declining physical health.
More Resources for Families Coping with Dementia
The Alzheimer Society of British Columbia is a great place to start for people looking for information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia care.
Alzheimer Society of B.C.
#300 – 828 West 8th Ave.
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E2
Telephone: (604) 681-6530
Toll-free: 1-800-667-3742 (B.C. only)
I know someone who has been recently diagnosed with dementia. What is the next step?
The resources you’ll find here are a good quick introduction, but if you are in British Columbia, you may be able to access the First Link program. First Link is an early intervention service which connects people and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other kinds of dementia with services and support.
Someone in my family has early stage dementia and we want to ensure they stay active and healthy for as long as possible. Are there any local programs that can help?
Minds in Motion is an excellent program served up at fitness and recreation centres across the province, providing light sports activities for people dealing with early onset dementia.
I want to donate to Alzheimer’s research. How can I do that?
The Alzheimer Society makes it easy to donate to research looking for a cure. They also have excellent initiatives, like the Anything for Alzheimer’s program that lets you plan your own event or fundraiser anywhere in Canada to help fight this disease.
I am a doctor or researcher and would like to participate in research on dementia. Where can I get involved?
The BC Dementia Education Project is becoming a key regional repository for education in this field and has a number of initiatives underway.
Still looking for local resources for clients with dementia around Vancouver and BC’s Lower Mainland? Are you ready to get help for your loved one with dementia? Contact us today