What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term (not a specific disease) that describes a group of symptoms which negatively impacts memory severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia with 60-80% of cases, while Vascular Dementia is the second most common dementia type. Nevertheless, there are many other conditions that cause symptoms of dementia. As opposed to Alzheimer’s, some forms of dementia are reversible.
What are the Signs or Symptoms of Dementia?
Remember that Dementia is a general term and not a specific disease like Alzheimer’s. Unlike Alzheimer’s, there aren't 10 specific warning signs you should watch out for. Nevertheless, dementia describes a group of symptoms that impacts your memory severe enough to interfere with your daily life.
Memory Loss more severe than occasionally forgetting an appointment or not knowing where you left your sunglasses.
Sense of time
Increased confusion about day, time, month and increased disorientation. For example, some people who live with dementia might think that they live in a past time of their life, or feel confused about where they are.
Difficulty with everyday tasks, for example having problems preparing a meal, or making the bed. Plus, managing finances can become an increasing problem for people with dementia.
Poor judgement, such as what to wear outside - a person with dementia might enter the outside world still in their pajamas. Also, judging the right distance or direction can also become a challenge for a person with dementia.
Behavior Changes and other changes concerning the Personality and Mood. Often, people who live with dementia have significant mood swings, and can become suspicious or confused rapidly.
Language problems can also occur in a more serious way in dementia patients. Of course, all of us sometimes struggle to find the right words, but a person with dementia may forget simple words and can make sentences difficult to understand.
What do I do if I have been diagnosed with Dementia?
Being diagnosed with a Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, can be very emotional. Strong emotions in the first weeks, such as denial, depression, fear, anger, resentment or feeling isolated can be normal. However, if those strong feeling persist, you might deal with an actual depression or anxiety, which can and should be treated.
Accepting your diagnosis is key to moving forward. A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean that you can’t live life to the fullest. To do that, it’s important that you find a healthy way to deal with your emotions and face your diagnosis. It’s important to not isolate yourself, but include yourself in social activities. The following tips may be helpful for you if you have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s:
Surround yourself with a good support system: your family, your friends and maybe even a local Alzheimer’s charity!
Write down your feelings and thoughts about your diagnosis in a journal.
Share your feelings and thoughts with a close friend or family member.
Develop a daily routine and keep track of your goals. Focus on what you can do today and set realistic expectations.
Avoid stress and explain to others that some tasks might not be that easy for you.
Join an early-stage support group - this provides you with a supportive and safe environment of peers.
Make a list of tasks that became more challenging for you and develop a strategy of how to overcome those challenges.
Approach one task at a time and give yourself enough time to complete a task. Don’t pressure yourself! Take a break and try again later if something becomes too difficult
Accept help from others - even if it might feel like a loss of independence, asking for help may help you maintain your independence and stay in control.
MindMate works with leading research organizations to find a cure for Dementia and other forms of memory loss. Because there is no cure, joining a clinical trial may be a good option for you. It is very important to understand that when joining a clinical trial, you are not a human “guinea pig” and you may be able to help millions of other patients with the same health condition. There are also many research studies for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
As you can imagine, there are many things to consider before joining clinical research, this is why we dedicated one single site about clinical trials. You can find more information on clinical trials here.