Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s
World Alzheimer’s Month is a time to raise awareness internationally about Alzheimer’s. By educating people on the realities of Alzheimer’s and dementia diagnosis, we hope myths are erased, and support for people living with Alzheimer’s and their families grows.
The theme for World Alzheimer’s month 2022 is the same as 2021, ‘ Know dementia, know Alzheimer’s’, focusing on the diagnosis, warning signs of dementia, the effect of covid-19 on the dementia community, and in 2022 emphasis will be put on providing awareness about post-diagnosis support.
This month we want people to know that even though a diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s is challenging, it isn’t the end of a good life. With the right care and support, people can experience positive moments and good quality of life even when living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s
Understanding the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is important to avoid misconceptions about the illnesses. Knowing the differences can help people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia get the proper care and give their families and carers the necessary knowledge to provide the best support.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe symptoms associated with a decline in brain functioning, such as memory, problem-solving, language and judgement. Dementia symptoms are caused by diseases that damage the brain by causing a loss of nerve cells.
Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a disease that builds up abnormal brain structures and disrupts how nerve cells work, eventually leading to a loss of cells.
The first symptoms of dementia most commonly shown when someone has Alzheimer’s are trouble remembering new information, having difficulty remembering words, misplacing items and showing poor judgement.
Dementia affects everyone differently; however, there are ten common warning signs that someone may have dementia:
1. Memory loss
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
5. Poor or decreased judgement
6. Problems keeping track of things
7. Misplacing things
8. Changes in mood and behaviour
9. Challenges in understanding visual and spatial information
10. Withdrawal from work or social activities
If you believe you or someone you love are struggling with these signs, talk to a health professional for guidance. These symptoms may not always be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
Why getting a dementia diagnosis is important
If you or a loved one have signs or symptoms of dementia, you may be thinking that you should wait to you’re more sure to get a diagnosis and that perhaps the symptoms aren’t bad enough yet; but whether symptoms are mild or severe, gradual or sudden, it’s still a positive step to speak to your GP.
You may be nervous about the diagnosis, but you deserve to know the problem and get the right help; if it isn’t dementia, it may be another problem that needs to be treated.
You may think a formal diagnosis of dementia is pointless and helpless, but a diagnosis will help you gain access to the right services and support and ultimately live better with dementia. Knowing your diagnosis will help you take control of the condition, plan for the future and have a good quality of life while living with dementia. An early diagnosis is especially important and empowering so you or your loved one with dementia can be more actively involved in healthcare, lifestyle and financial choices.
The right support is out there
A full and fun life is possible with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Read some first-hand experiences from Elder customers:
Joanne’s story – care that keeps Mum in her dancing shoes
Joanne and her mum, Patricia, have been with Elder since 2017. Patricia has mild dementia, but that doesn’t stop her enjoying life. We had a chat with Joanne about what difference a live-in carer has made to both their lives.
Jill’s story – personalised dementia care
Jill has been with Elder since Jan 2020, care is for her mum (Peggy) who is 97 with dementia. Jennifer is their primary carer.
Is treatment for dementia possible?
While there’s no cure yet, there are a range of treatments for dementia that can help with symptoms, and improve quality of life.
There are a number of prescription medications, as well as non-drug treatments that are widely used to slow progression and manage symptoms. And, while there’s no cure yet, organisations such as Alzheimer’s Research UK are also constantly investigating new ways to treat and even prevent dementia too.
“Can I still do my favourite things after a dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnosis?”
Being diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean independent living has to stop, and you don’t have to quit the everyday activities you love.
There are many ways to live well with dementia and improve overall well-being. Activities that were previously enjoyed, physical, mental, and social activities included, can be done, even if they take longer than they used to.
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