Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Also, according to the 2016 World Alzheimer Report, 47 million people live with dementia today and that number is projected to increase to more than 131 million by 2050 as populations age. Yet those statistics don’t tell the whole story: there are many people who go undiagnosed, believing that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are normal aging, and then there are people whose memory loss may not be dementia.
What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Dementia is actually just a term that summarizes a variety of symptoms but is not an actual name of a specific disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia followed by vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and there is no current cure. Vascular dementia is the type of dementia that can occur after someone suffers from a stroke. Some people can experience other types of dementia caused by things like vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems that can often be treated and reversed.
What are the symptoms?
Having memory issues absolutely doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s. There are steps that need to be taken to determine the cause of memory problems including medical testing. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s can include things like memory loss that affect the ways of daily life and confusion about times and places. Sudden problems speaking or writing could also be a symptom.Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for the most comprehensive list of symptoms and see your doctor about any questions or concerns.
Living with Dementia
Learning to live with dementia whether you have dementia or live with someone with dementia can be challenging, but there are things that can help make it easier. When it becomes more difficult to communicate with your loved one, understand that they don’t have a mental illness, they just can’t find the words to express themselves and probably feel scared. You should try and speak slower and clear, use body language and expressions when possible, and overall, just remember to be patient. Do your best to make sure their environment is safe. Remove dangerous objects, trip hazards, and make sure there is plenty of light. If you are a family caregiver and things are getting too stressful, remember to seek respite care.
It’s important to take care of yourself, too!
by Amanda Christesson-Graham