Alzheimer’s and related dementias affect millions of adults. These conditions are caused by damage to brain cells that can result in a loss of mental abilities and memory, personality changes and impaired reasoning. While Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases of dementia, there are many other types. For example, vascular dementia is one common type which occurs after a stroke. Other examples are dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
How do I know if my loved one has dementia?
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and related dementias can vary. If your loved one experiences loss of any of these mental functions, it could be a sign of dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
Encourage your loved one to talk to their doctor right away if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
Reducing your risk
Dementia doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging. While there’s no way to prevent it, you may reduce your risk of developing dementia and other serious health conditions by:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Staying involved with your favorite hobbies and friends
- Volunteering and staying active in your community
- Avoiding too much alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
While there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops dementia, there are medications that may help to temporarily improve symptoms. Focus on helping your loved one with dementia maintain a quality life.
Helping a loved one with dementia
Knowing how to help a loved one with dementia can be difficult. Follow these tips for a positive start:
- Show affection
- Limit distractions
- Identify yourself
- Use simple words and sentences
- Speak slowly
- Ask one question at a time
- Practice patience
- Break down tasks into simple steps
- Ask about their distant past
Taking care of a loved one with dementia isn’t easy. Focus on the person and your love for them and take each day one at a time. Ask for help when you need it and take regular breaks from caregiving to recharge.
Balance, HCR ManorCare's comprehensive health and wellness blog, supplies readers with healthy ideas throughout the year. The blog is designed to serve as a resource, not only for patients, residents and families, but for anyone who strives to live a healthy, "balanced" life. For more information and help making healthy choices, go to balance.hcr-manorcare.com. If you need help making a health care decision, visit our CareFinder and live chat.