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As we get older, it is common to experience various forms of memory loss. We misplace things, forget appointments and can't quite find the right word. If there is no underlying medical condition, this is known as "age-associated memory impairment" and is considered to be part of normal aging.
How do we differentiate between this normal part of the aging process and the early stages of dementia?
It is very common for us to take over many of the everyday tasks for people with dementia because we can do it faster or better. It can start in small ways - the buttons on a shirt are tiny so you offer to do them. Over time, it becomes more pervasive - no matter the size of the buttons, the person no longer attempts to button their own shirt. Rather they sit passively as someone takes over this job.
It is important to avoid this progression, even though in the short term it may seem to make sense. By taking over everyday tasks for the person:
Does depression cause dementia? While no direct causal relationship has been proven, studies show that depression does in fact contribute to the onset of dementia.
Many people suffer from various degrees of depression and as we age, depression becomes more and more prevalent. Our ability to do things that we used to take for granted diminishes, our memory naturally declines as we age and our physical abilities also decline through aging. These factors often take their toll on our self-esteem and contribute to a state of depression.
When you look at the cartoon, what is your first thought? Do you think
It makes sense
I know someone who does that
He can’t do that!
It's a funny cartoon, but if we think about what it depicts, we can learn from it. One of the most important lessons we teach in our training is to observe the person and try to determine why a particular behavior is occurring and what we can do to prevent or modify it. To do that, we have to answer questions about the behavior.
If a person that you are caring for asks "Where's Henry?", referring to their spouse who passed away several years ago, how do you respond? Do you tell them that Henry passed away three years ago? Do you ignore the question and start talking about something else? Or do you lie and say that Henry is away for a while?
Telling them the simple truth is quick and easy (at least in the short term), but may not be the best approach. It may result in the person having bad feelings, perhaps even becoming distraught, and it could happen over and over again.
In reading articles about dementia (or major neurocognitive disorder, as it is also called), reference is often made to “cognitive domains”. In fact, in order for a diagnosis of dementia to be made (as per the American Psychiatric Association 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), there must be evidence of a significant cognitive decline from the previous level of function in at least one cognitive domain. The decline must be severe enough to interfere with the person’s activities of daily living. Preferably the decline will be documented by standardized neuropsychological testing or another quantified clinical assessment. So what are these “cognitive domains”?
The term “dementia” is often used to describe any disease that affects a person’s memory or mental abilities, but in fact there are several distinct types of dementia, each with different characteristics.
In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association published the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which among other things, provides the diagnostic criteria for different types of dementia. It is used to diagnose and classify mental disorders, including dementia, by the medical community in much of the world.
There are hundreds of books on all aspects of dementia and dementia care. These are our "go to" books that we find to be particularly useful and conform to Montessori Principles. They range from practical activity books to instructive care guidelines and suggestions to the more academic. To buy a book, click on the desired Amazon button and you will be redirected. We offer both Amazon.ca and Amazon.com because sometimes there is a price/availability difference.
Dementia is an all-encompassing term that covers many different diseases. What they all have in common is that all types of dementia are caused by damage to the brain. The difference between the dementias is the part of the brain that has been damaged. Understanding the exact type of dementia isn't as important as understanding how it affects the person and what we can do to help.
One way of understanding this is to look at the Seven A's of Dementia. Each of the "A's" represents damage to a different part of the brain. While we talk about them separately, a person with dementia may experience any number of the Seven A's depending on the form of the disease.
Learning about the Seven A's helps us to understand the way a person with dementia sees the world, which gives us insight that can help us better interact with the person, and develop supportive care strategies.
We're hearing more and more about Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in discussion and education. What exactly is the difference between MCI and dementia? In a nutshell, a person is said to have MCI if they have some sort of impairment that is beyond normal age-related changes but that does not prevent them for carrying on with day to day life and normal activities. People with dementia, on the other hand, have symptoms that impact daily life. People with mild cognitive impairment may never develop Alzheimer's or other types of dementia but almost all cases of Alzheimer's start with MCI.
A person with MCI may find that they forget things more often than normal, they may lose interest in doing things that they previously enjoyed, they may have trouble finding their way around familiar places and they may have trouble with abstract thinking.