Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

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What is dementia?

Dementia is the decline of mental processes and functioning. Some common thinking areas affected in dementia include: memory, attention, communication, judgment, and comprehension. This can lead to problems with one’s ability to function independently.

There are many different types of dementia and around 15 per cent may be the result of a reversible illness. It is important to know that not all memory problems are caused by dementia so seeing your family doctor when symptoms arise is important.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for two-thirds of all types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a chronic, progressive illness that impairs the thinking and functioning of those affected. Memory, communication, judgment, and daily functioning are common areas affected.

What are the common signs or symptoms of dementia?

Because there are many different types and causes of dementia, there can be many different signs and symptoms. As dementia progresses, some signs to watch for might include:

  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Difficulty remembering events, conversations, names/words
  • Difficulty doing daily tasks, chores, activities
  • Trouble planning or organizing
  • Changes to personality, mood or behavior
  • Difficulty recognizing and misplacing objects

How is dementia treated?

If you believe you or a loved one has signs or symptoms of dementia, it is important to see your family doctor. There can be many causes of memory or thinking changes, such as mental illness (e.g. depression) or physical illness (e.g. thyroid problem) that are treatable and reversible.

In Alzheimer’s disease, an accurate diagnosis is an important first step. Alzheimer’s disease does not have a specific cure, but treatments can help slow progression or lessen the burden of symptoms. Treatments vary but can include regular follow-up with your family doctor, medications, counseling and support groups.

Self-care (e.g. eating a balanced diet, sleeping well at night, regular exercise, socialization and abstinence from alcohol and drugs, etc.) is also an important step in staying healthy. Support from family and friends can also be an important part of treatment.

What should I do to get help?

If you or a friend or family member is suffering with symptoms of dementia, it is important to see your family doctor or speak with a mental health professional.

Resources

For more information and other resources that may be of help please see below:

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