July 30, 2009

Activities for Dementia Patients with Depression

Dementia is a term for the kinds of illnesses that deal with the loss of brain function as it relates to memory, ability to communicate, ability to judge, and ability to function in everyday society. Under this mark you will find such terms as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, to name but a few. Patients affected by these diseases come from all walks of life, and for this reason it is quite frequently possible that a patient finds the diagnosis intolerable.

For those patients who have just been diagnosed as well as for those who are living with the illness, depression is a very common additional condition that will befall them. After all, an active patient will have a hard time reconciling her or himself to a lifestyle that involves giving control of finances and basic living decisions over to loved ones. Similarly, since these diseases are incurable, she or he will often have to battle with the finality of the diagnosis. Caregivers may sometimes have a hard time determining if depression has snuck up on their loved ones, but as a general rule of thumb, a prolonged exhibition of some of the symptoms of depression is a good indicator that something is amiss:

- Your loved one may suffer from the doldrums for extended periods of time where nothing and nobody will be able to cheer her or him up.

- She or he may voice to you concerns of becoming a burden, being worthless, or feeling extremely guilty for “doing this”, meaning getting sick, to you and the family.

- The patient may be considering suicide and may either discuss it with you or you may get the feeling that she or he is leading up to it, for example by stashing large amounts of pills.

- Your loved one may suddenly drink or smoke more than previously.
She or he may lose sleep or in the alternative sleep all day and refuse to get out of bed.

If you notice these kinds of behavior and activities in your loved one, you will need to step forward and help her or him to deal with what apparently is a case of depression. Sometimes a patient may not be aware of the accompanying depression and instead believe that the symptoms are part and parcel of the dementia. This patient will see a dramatic increase in her or his quality of life when the depression is adequately dealt with. ...

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July 20, 2009

Alzheimer’s Stages and How to Keep Your Focus on Feelings

Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable illness, which will gradually ravage a patient’s brain functions as they relate to memory, sound judgment, and the ability to effectively communicate and reason. At times, advanced cases of the disease will suffer from hallucinations, extreme anxiety which may lead to physically violent episodes of acting out, as well as extreme suspicion of others. The disease itself is not fast moving. At times the term may be as short as three years, while at other times it may be as long as twenty years.

During this decline in brainpower, the patient will experience a plethora or feelings. At the top of the list are helplessness, anger, and a feeling of extreme worry – “what if” is a term very often uttered by those in the early stages of the illness and as a caregiver, you will most likely have to bear the brunt of these emotions. While it is not always easy to deal with your loved one’s feelings, it is compounded by your own feelings of despair that you may very well experience as you see your vivacious loved one gradually decline.

Here are some common sense suggestions on how to keep your own feelings in check, even if your loved one no longer can.

At the onset of the disease, the effects are extremely mild and may sometimes be mistaken for age related changes. Brief memory lapses, such as a search for the car keys or house keys may give hints to the patient that something is changing in the way they are functioning in their everyday lives. At this point it is not uncommon for some to simply not think about Alzheimer’s disease, while others may wish to discuss it with their families. If your loved one approaches you with such thoughts, it is important to not just negate any veracity of their fears, but instead to hear them out, and support their decisions. This may be a time that your loved one will want to discuss your taking over financial responsibilities for her or him, and while this may make you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, please be assured that this is simply a natural progression in your relationship with your loved one. Overcome your own anxiety with this reassurance and also by reassuring your loved one that you will be there for her or him.

As the disease progresses, so will the memory lapses. It will soon be evident to most that your loved one is suffering from a form of dementia. ...

Read more: Alzheimers Stages and How to Keep Your Focus on Feelings

July 13, 2009

Alzheimer’s Facilities: What Do You Have to Know

The term Alzheimer’s is dreaded amongst families and caregivers, yet many are not certain exactly what it involves. By way of a definition, it is important to realize that Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable brain disorder that will become progressively worse. Attacking the memory centers of the brain, the illness gradually progresses to a point where a patient’s memory, ability to reason and make sound judgments, as well as her or his ways of communicating with others is seriously compromised.

Advanced cases of Alzheimer’s disease are often defined by a patient’s increase in anxiety, aggressiveness, as well as hallucinations. Sadly, very often as the disease progresses those closest to the patient find that they are no longer able to provide the overall care needed to not only keep the patient safe, but to also ensure that she or he will experience an improvement in their quality of life. For this reason, long-term Alzheimer’s care facilities are very often the answered prayer, yet sometimes loved ones are unsure how to approach a facility to find out whether or not they are a good fit for the patient.

Very often it appears overwhelming to a caregiver, yet with a few well-placed questions much of the details will be worked out well before your loved one will need to transition from the home environment to the long-term care facility. Here is a list of ten questions that will get you started:

1. Speak about money. The facility should have an established rate sheet that explains the fees for services rendered as well as the incidental charges that may be incurred. For instance, a basic monthly fee should include room and board, etc., while regular incidentals could include the monthly visits of a licensed cosmetologist for hair and nail care.

2. Who will be the attending physician? Facilities general have one or two attending physicians who will visit each patient once a month and oversee the immediate care as well as prescriptions. Yet perhaps you and your loved one will prefer your own doctor to be the attending physician, in which case you will need to make sure the facility will accommodate your wishes.

3. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Sure, the lobby will almost always be clean, but ask to see the lunchroom, the adjacent restrooms, etc. Are they clean? Is the floor slippery? Are electrical outlets covered with intact plates? Are there handrails in the restrooms?

4. Is entertainment provided? Most often there will be a lounge with a television set, but what else is there? Take a look around and ask for a schedule. There should be group activities, perhaps some crafts, scheduled outings, and maybe even some spiritual events. ...

Read more: Alzheimers Facilities: What Do You Have to Know when Choosing One of Them

July 06, 2009

What Are The Most Common Forms of Dementia

Dementia is one of a number of illnesses causing a continuous decline in the mental abilities of a person. There are several different forms dementia can take on, and the term is used to describe a large amount of symptoms, including a loss of memory, the ability to think rationally, a decline in social skills, a loss of intellect, and changes to what would be normal emotional reactions.

The first and most well known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for somewhere between fifty and seventy percent of all the cases of dementia. It’s a degenerative disease that aims straight for the brain, and with subtle symptoms, it may not be detected until it is too late. First of all, the early symptoms include memory loss, getting confused or lost in a conversation, and routine tasks become longer and more difficult. The changes continue to progress, until in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease the sufferer is unable to think for themselves, and requires around the clock supervision.

The second type of dementia is vascular dementia, and it is the second most common form of dementia. Most of the problems associated with vascular dementia have to do with blood circulation. To start with, there will be general problems for blood trying to reach the brain, which will cause strokes. This inevitably results in the decline of mental abilities. Vascular dementia may seem to be similar to Alzheimer’s, as vascular dementia is usually associated with strokes, which contribute to a decline in mental abilities. Since these two forms of dementia are similar, it can be difficult to pinpoint which one a patient has, and in the worst cases there may even be a mixture of the both.

Parkinson’s disease is essentially a disorder of the central nervous system. Generally, people who have Parkinson’s will have difficulty performing any physical movement, and they may also have a speech impediment of some sort. Their limbs and joints will be stiff as well. Medication has been known to improve the physical problems associated with Parkinson’s disease, but it can have drastic side effects that go as far as hallucinations and confusion.

Large amounts of people who are diagnosed with dementia have been found to have Lewy bodies in the nerve cells in their brain. These Lewy bodies are considered to be a catalyst for the death of the cells, which in turn brings on dementia. In this type of dementia, the symptoms will fluctuate wildly in severity from day to day – some days there will be no symptoms at all, and other times the symptoms will be so strong it’ll be difficult to function. Lewy bodies can occur with any of the other forms of dementia, most notably Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. ...

Read more: The Most Common Forms of Dementia

July 01, 2009

The Signs of Dementia

Dementia is best described as a loss of intellectual or cognitive (thinking) functions within the human brain. Those who suffer dementia are, quite frequently, confused and easily irritated. They may not be able to recognize their family members of friends, they become lost, even in surroundings should be familiar to them, and they gradually lose the skills, which they need, in order to live independently.

The first signs of dementia tend to be very subtle and are hard to differentiate from normal signs of aging. The most ordinary of these is the characteristic loss of memory, which so many associate with Alzheimer‘s disease and dementia. In the initial stages of this disease, it may be barely recognizable; the occasional slip of a name, getting directions twisted around, forgetting how to spell something - just little inconveniences that didn’t harm anyone. As the disease progresses, however, the signs become far more evident.

During the secondary stages of dementia, the forgetfulness the patient suffered previously has become something intense enough so as to it interferes with day-to-day life. The patient may very well forget familiar faces of family and loved ones. Surroundings may, at times, seem strange and upsetting, and people who attempting to help are regarded with fear, anger and paranoia. Step by step, their life becomes a prison and those that love them become strange, unwilling jailers.

Along with the obvious forgetting of faces, it suddenly becomes increasingly difficult for the one suffering from dementia to perform easy tasks. Simple steps are suddenly forgotten or items misplaced, like car keys being stored in a bag of flour or the patient forgetting to put lunchmeat on their sandwich and just eating two pieces of bread with mustard in between them. Surroundings frequently warp, with the victim easily able to lose themselves even with home just around the corner, regardless of how many times they’ve taken the exact same route. ...

Read more: The Signs of Dementia