You are probably familiar with the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia, but do you know how the two differ?
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia causes changes to the way a person thinks, behaves and performs everyday tasks.
Dementia is not one specific disease. There are many different forms of dementia, and each has its own causes.
The most at risk factor for dementia is increasing age, however it is not considered a normal part of ageing. Not everyone will get dementia as they get older.
Alzheimer’s disease is named after the doctor, Alois Alzheimer, who first recorded it back in 1906. Dr Alzheimer had a patient, Auguste Deter, a middle-aged woman who for four years exhibited symptoms of what we now call Alzheimer’s. When Auguste died, in the autopsy they found plaque buildup and tangles in the region of the brain involved in memory, language and judgement1. It was these findings that made Dr Alzheimer believe, were the cause of her cognitive changes in the years prior.
Up to 70% of people who have dementia have Alzheimer’s disease, making it the most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s tends to develop slowly and over time gradually worsens. This results in impaired learning, behaviour, thinking and memory. The most recently learnt memories tend to be forgotten first and then slowly recede into the past.
There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease1:
⦁ Sporadic Alzheimer’s– the most common form of Alzheimer’s that can affect adults at any stage, usually occurring after the age of 65 years.
⦁ Familial Alzheimer’s– also known as ‘younger onset dementia’ and sometimes referred to as ‘hereditary’ as it is caused by a very rare genetic condition where several genes are mutated.
Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
⦁ Frequent memory difficulties especially of recent events
⦁ Vagueness and problems with communication
⦁ Loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
⦁ Taking longer or having trouble to do tasks that were once easy
⦁ Confusion and forgetting well-known people or places
⦁ Having difficulty solving problems or answering questions
⦁ Changes in personality or mood
It is often hard to notice symptoms to begin with as early stages of the disease are often subtle and fluctuate from day-to-day. Additionally, many people have difficulties with memory as they age not due to dementia.
It is important to note that the rate of Alzheimer’s progression varies from person to person.
How to live with dementia, including Alzheimer’s:
There is no doubt that Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are one of the most complex and challenging health conditions today. Whilst dementia and the types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s is a confronting disease to be diagnosed with, we do know a lot more from the role research has played over the past four decades.
Whilst there is currently no cure for the types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, there are medications that may assist in the reduction of some symptoms and improve quality of life.
Understanding the form of dementia, you or a loved one has, helps find others experiencing the same thing, come together and discover how to live well. Knowledge is power and applying as much information as you can, will enable you to live your best possible life. There is no doubt that community support can make a positive difference to managing dementia for the person with the condition, their families and carers. It is important to not panic and know that you are not alone.
The Home Care Assistance difference:
In Australia, there are over 487,500 people living with dementia and almost 1.6 million Australians involved in their care2. Here at Home Care Assistance, we are a trusted provider of care to individuals and families living with mild to severe Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
At Home Care Assistance, we know that independence for Australians with dementia can feel at risk. That is why, a key part of our role in supporting those with dementia is to provide a safe, comfortable home environment that enables your loved one to remain in a familiar setting and avoid agitation. Our experience has shown that the difference between a good day and a bad day can be as simple as a familiar home environment and an experienced and skilled Care Worker.
We are committed to long-term relationships at Home Care Assistance. You’ll find our consistent staffing allows your loved one to build a trusted bond with their Care Worker and the Care team and think of us like family.
There are fortunately avenues for those living with dementia to receive assistance to help maintain an active and independent lifestyle. You can find out more here about dementia and cognition supplement for Home Care.
Dementia Australia also provides support, information and counselling to people affected by dementia.
If you would like to learn more about dementia, the University of Tasmania offers a free course to healthcare workers and all students from all walks of life.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.