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“I am vanishing as a person”

Everyone experiences memory pitfalls every now and then. Memory and concentration are affected by many factors, including hypoactive thyroid, depression, boredom, tiresome, certain medications, and age.

However, dementia is the most serious memory problem. It is a gradual loss of memory, understanding, judgement, thinking, and language. Ultimately, the individual’s personality changes, as well as ways of interaction with his/her social network.

Dementia has several subtypes, including:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Other temporary types of dementia, such as syphilis, vitamin deficiencies, and alcohol abuse.

1. What does dementia feel like?

  • Forgetfulness, especially of recent events
  • Strong memory of past events. Sometimes, as the disease progression becomes severe, the individual may start to act like living in the past, and may act like a child, without recognizing their true age
  • Misplacing common objects
  • Unfamiliarity with common facts, such the current year, president, or names of close people or objects
  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Incapability of understanding written information
  • Restlessness
  • Losing track of time.
  • New surroundings or people cause confusion to a person with dementia.
  • Difficulty grasping new ideas, planning, and decision-making.
  • Changes in mood and personality. The individual with dementia may develop depressed or irritable mood, exhibit disinhibition and aggression, and may experience psychotic symptoms such as paranoid delusions and visual hallucinations, especially in Lewy body dementia.
  • Difficulty carrying out daily activities, such as cooking, driving, eating, and personal hygiene.
  • Dementia progresses at a variable speed between one person and the other, usually over years. In the beginning of the disease, the individual can cope and function with minimal support and care. As the disease progresses, s/he will need more support. Later on, they lose speech, mobility, and may develop incontinence. This general weakness makes them vulnerable to other health problems, which are usually the cause of death.

2. Why do some people get dementia?

The cause of dementia varies largely based on its type. For instance, vascular related risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and lack of exercise increase the risk of developing stroke, and thus vascular dementia. On the other hand, individuals with Down’s syndrome are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia.

Other risk factors include:

  • Genetics and family history of dementia
  • Co-existing mental health disorder, especially schizophrenia and depression
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • History of head injury
  • Limited social support network
  • Limited physical exercise

3. What are the treatment modalities at LWHCC for dementia?

There is no cure for dementia. Treatment aims at slowing the progression of the disease and improving functionality and coping skills with the illness. Moreover, treatment modalities depend greatly on the presenting symptoms and the stage of dementia.

  • Medications: treatment with medications has two major purposes
  • Improving cognitive symptoms, mainly memory and thinking
  • Improving non-cognitive symptoms, including mood and behavioral changes
  • Supportive therapy: to promote the individual’s best psychological and social adaptation, and boost self-esteem and confidence.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to help individuals who suffer depression with dementia

Which treatment modality is better for me?

At LWHCC, we will provide you with free triage service with a professional mental health nurse who will carry on a brief mental health assessment, either over the phone or during a face-to-face interview, and guide you to the appropriate service based on your mental health status and individual needs.

4. What can you do to help yourself?

  • Learn about dementia.
  • Follow the treatment closely to achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Follow a healthy life style, including healthy diet (Mediterranean diet)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking
  • Engage in cognitive stimulation exercises, such as problem solving games, memory games, and chatting with family.
  • Take care of your health. Manage any underlying diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

5. What can you do to help a close one who has dementia?

  • Learn about dementia and the progress of the illness.
  • Communicate with your close one. Chatting is a stimulating brain activity. It may also guide you into the disease progression, and it shows the other person that you care.
  • Help your close one follow healthy lifestyle, and carry day-to-day activities, such as eating, washing, and dressing up.
  • Take care of yourself and your health. Caring for a close one with dementia can be overwhelming, and you may neglect your own needs. Learn when you ask for help and take a break.

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Contact us today to review your need and to discuss the ways we can help!

We provide a safe and confidential service, to make you feel welcomed and comfortable at all times.