Diseases that precipitate cognitive decline in older individuals such as dementia can significantly impact their quality of life and be quite difficult for loved ones to witness. Though these types of brain and mental disorders are not yet understood entirely by the medical community, significant research efforts have focused on ways in which such maladies may be prevented. Some scientists opine that increased exercise might serve as one particular preventative measure.

The Maplewood at Prairie Sauk, a nursing facility and outpatient physical rehabilitation center serving the needs of patients with dementia and other cognitive disorders, invites people to read the following brief article focusing on dementia, the malady’s causes and symptoms, as well as how and why physical activity may keep the affliction at bay.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not classified as any one specific type of mental illness. Rather, medical professionals categorize this moniker as a collection of conditions resulting in cognitive mental deterioration. The most commonly known form of such disorders is Alzheimer’s Disease.

What are the Symptoms of Dementia?

Manifestations may vary depending upon the exact cause or area of the brain that is most impacted. That said, regardless of any other factors, many presentations of dementia typically elicit several common symptoms such as profound memory loss, slurred or slow speech, difficulty finding the appropriate words to use in conversation, the inability to carry out once routine, everyday household or professional tasks, problems recognizing people and places (even close relatives and friends and familiar environments like home), difficulty exercising judgment in situations where such decisions must be executed, neglected hygiene, mood swings, bizarre behavior, hallucinations, balance issues and depression.

What are the Causes?

In many instances, dementia is precipitated by the progressive and irreversible deterioration of the brain’s cerebral cortex. This region of the mind controls actions like memory, personality and decision making. Under far less frequent circumstances, dementia may be a treatable manifestation of another serious illness including sexually transmitted diseases like Syphilis, the AIDS virus, hormonal and metabolic imbalances, nutritional deficiencies or severe and chronic presentations of alcoholism and substance addiction.

Can Dementia be Prevented?

While there is no medically-established preventative measure, doctors and scientists believe there are certain steps people can employ that might help reduce their chances of developing dementia later in life. These include keeping the mind strong through mental stimulation, consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet, augmenting solid dietary practices through the ingestion of brain and memory-boosting vitamin and nutritional supplements, reducing stress levels, obtaining more sleep, curtailing or eliminating bad habits such as drinking and smoking and receiving an adequate amount of exercise. Some researchers have opined that exercise may be among the most important preventative measures people can employ.

The Results of a New Study

A team of researchers representing The University of Gothenburg’s Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry in Sweden suggest that an individual’s stamina, which is scientifically-defined as the duration of time needed for the body to reach a peak level of physical exhaustion during periods of exertion, might impact his or her risk of being stricken with some form of dementia in later years.

The study began in 1968 and involved nearly 200 women ranging in age from 38 to 60. Each test subject was asked to perform a cycling race for the purpose of measuring how stout their cardiovascular systems were. Following the examination, researchers placed the examinees in one of three categories depending upon how they performed in the race: low fitness, medium fitness and high fitness. Category designations were also assigned based upon other variables such as a subject’s overall health when deemed appropriate. The researchers followed each subject for a 44-year period ending in 2012. The findings showed that the women classified as high fitness who also developed dementia did so, on average, at a rate of 11 years later than medium designees also afflicted with the condition. While researchers believe this study is beneficial, the scientific community in general opine that much more research is needed before a direct correlation can be drawn regarding physical activity as a possible medically-accepted preventative tool for dementia.

We at Maplewood at Sauk Prairie work with dementia patients. If you or a loved one are concerned about the illness or may need assistance, please contact us.

Sources:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352013
  2. https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/tc/dementia-symptoms
  3. http://www.dementia.com/causes.html
  4. https://www.alzheimers.net/1-1-15-resolutions-reduce-dementia-2015/
  5. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/14/health/dementia-risk-fitness-study/index.html

The World Health Organization reports that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will increase three-fold by 2050. And according to studies conducted by UCLA 5.5 million Americans currently, suffer from Alzheimer’s. This number is expected to be around 15 million by 2060.

The early detection of Alzheimer’s is of extreme importance and there are a number of warning signs for loved ones to look when interacting with elderly family members. Here are some of the top Alzheimer’s disease signs and symptoms.

Disruptive Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most prevalent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Both short and long-term memory is affected by the effects of short-term memory loss is usually more easily noticed.

Seniors may be observed to forget important dates or appointments, repeating the same questions or information, or increasingly becoming dependent on memory aids or family members to recall things that they once could on their own. This loss of memory can often time become extremely disruptive in the lives of seniors.

Difficulty Performing Common Tasks

Senior family members afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease will often find it difficult, and maybe even impossible to complete routine tasks. An example of this would be a grandmother was known for her cooking prowess being unable to prepare her most enjoyed meal.

Seniors may also have trouble with arriving at locations familiar to them, playing games they enjoy or managing finances.

Placing Things In Odd Places

Discovering car keys in the refrigerator, the remote control in clothes hamper, or regularly finding items that had been missing in strange locations is strong evidence that an elderly family member could be suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

While some may believe that forgetfulness is a simple byproduct of aging, the person with Alzheimer’s does not only forget the whereabouts of possessions occasionally but often leave them in unusual places and are unable to retrace their path to locate them.

Seniors may also become suspicious of others when unable to locate items.

Struggling To Communicate

Visible evidence of diminished ability to communicate is another common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Sufferer’s of Alzheimer’s may often stop talking in mid-sentence and become unable to continue.

Vocabulary can also become problematic and seniors with Alzheimer’s may also struggle in searching for correct words or terms or refer to objects or people with incorrect names, and in some cases invent words that do not exist.

Aimless Wandering

A potentially dangerous warning sign of Alzheimer’s is the tendency for elderly sufferers of the disease to wander off and often become lost. This tendency toward aimless wandering is often exacerbated by the feelings of restlessness, confusion with time, anxiety, and difficulty with recognition of familiar faces that Alzheimer’s patients often experience.

Cases have been reported where individual’s with Alzheimer’s have left the home late at night in response to a need, like using the bathroom, that could easily have been fulfilled in the home. Alzheimer’s sufferers have also been reported to leave ‘for home’ when already present in their homes.

Difficulty With Visual Information

The vision problems experienced by seniors with Alzheimer’s is much different than that of most common age-related visual impairments. With Alzheimer’s there is the inability to gauge distances or determine the color or contrast of an object.

Problems with perception such as observing themselves in a mirror and believing their reflection to be someone else present in the room can also occur with Alzheimer’s.

Actions With No Purpose

Alzheimer’s sufferers will often be seen engaging in pointless activities such as packing and then unpacking belongings, pacing to and fro with no destination, or opening and closing drawers, doors, or windows repeatedly for no reason.

To the onlooker, these activities will have no reason attached to them but experts on the disease believe that these activities are repeated to fulfill a need on the part of the Alzheimer’s sufferer to stay busy or feel productive.

Withdrawal From Social Activities

Loneliness and Isolation are often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and persons with the disease may begin to ignore many of the activities that they need or once loved to do. Many times this is fueled by shame or embarrassment felt by the Alzheimer’s sufferers due to the changes they have experienced with themselves.

Depression

Depression is often a central theme in the lives of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Depression can be a difficult symptom to identify and this is made more difficult for Alzheimer’s sufferers due to impairments with cognitive function.

Senior family members that sleep much more than usual or repeatedly spend entire days watching television while engaging in little or no other activities may be suffering from depression.

Decline In Motor Skills

The proper functioning of fine motor skills is often a casualty to Alzheimer’s disease. This decline in motor skills can manifest itself in ways like struggles with tying shoes, buttoning clothes, or making use of eating utensils.

Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely debilitating for elders and a cause of much sadness to family members. Recognizing the signs of Alzheimer’s is crucial as early detection of the disease affords Alzheimer’s experts like those presently at work at the Maple Wood of Sauk Praire, in Sauk City Wisconsin.

Alzheimer’s Disease. (2017, May 08). Retrieved December 24, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/alzheimers-disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved December 24, 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

Dementia vs. Alzheimers Disease – What is the Difference?

alzheimers and dementiaTwo of the most common diseases that adversely affect memory and cognitive functions are those of dementia and Alzheimers disease. These two conditions are oftentimes used interchangeably due to the very similar effects that they cause. However, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of, especially if someone close to you has been diagnosed with one of these diseases.

What is Dementia?

This term basically refers to an umbrella of symptoms that tend to display themselves as memory loss. These symptoms generally affect thinking, memory and social abilities. There are a wide range of causes of this syndrome, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Despite the fact that this condition is generally referred to as a syndrome instead of a disease, it can worsen with time, largely depending on the cause of the symptoms you face.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimers disease is one of the common causes of the aforementioned syndrome, appearing in an average of 60 percent of cases. The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s include confusion, impaired thought, and impaired speech. There are a wide selection of tests that can be administered in order to determine whether or not you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s. These tests can also identify if the reason for some of your memory loss is due to the development of a separate condition.

Primary Differences Between These Two Diseases

The primary difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is simply that dementia is the syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease can be the cause of that syndrome. Dementia is more so a set of symptoms that could indicate the presence of a wide range of conditions.

To better understand dementia, it could be compared to a sore throat or a runny nose. Either of these symptoms could be the sign of springtime allergies or a common cold that you’re suffering from. In the same way, the cause of dementia (the syndrome) could be Alzheimer’s or several other diseases.

It’s also important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not reversible, while some causes for the dementia have the ability to be reversed. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that comes in the form of stages. The symptoms will worsen over time. People who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s typically have 8-10 years to live.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the symptoms may impact how a person lives their everyday life, but that person will still typically have the ability to lead an independent life.

Once the middle-stage is reached, the symptoms become more severe, oftentimes causing the affected person to become confused or even refuse to eat for a period of time. This is caused by damage to the nerve cells within the brain. This is the longest stage of Alzheimer’s and can last for a multitude of years.

Once Alzheimer’s disease reaches its late-stage, the person afflicted with the disease will require around-the-clock care and will display a severe degradation of cognitive and memory skills.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most severe causes of dementia. However, if the memory and cognitive issues that are experienced can be attributed to some other cause, it’s possible for the symptoms to be improved or reversed.

Causes of dementia are divided into three basic groups; those of progressive types, those that are simply linked to the syndrome, and those that are wholly reversible.

The conditions related to dementia that can be effectively reversed include infections, immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, subdural hematomas, and even adverse reactions to medications. For instance, dehydration can cause some of the symptoms that appear with this syndrome. The most important thing for you to do if you suspect that yourself or someone close to you is suffering from one of these conditions is to actually seek medical care to identify what exactly you’re suffering from.

For those that have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Maplewood of Sauk Prairie provides a wonderful center of hope.  Our facility offers amazing care including skilled nursing, memory care activities, physical therapy, social activities and a strong network of resources for the family.  Feel free to contact us at 608-643-3383 to speak with us about our Alzheimer’s and dementia programs.

Your memory.  It contains all of your thoughts, life experiences, past events you’ve attended and names of your friends and family members or even the items that you need to buy at the grocery store.  Your memory is the book of your life, past and present, that is kept tucked away within your mind.

As we age, it’s not uncommon that our memories aren’t as good as they once were.  However, for some, memory loss can be related to a clinical condition such as dementia or alzheimer’s disease.  This can be extremely difficult for those that suffer from memory loss as well as their husbands or wives, sons or daughters, or any of their caregivers.

Assistance For Memory Loss

sauk-prairie-memory-careWhen someone is having problems with their memory, what can be done?  How do you help those who suffer?  Is there a way to provide care for those who have a loss in their memory function?

The good news is that there are things that can be done to help those who are having memory difficulties.  Whether your loved one is just having some early stages of memory difficulties or has more advanced memory loss, there is help that can be provided.

One type of assistance is through a memory care center where the individual is initially evaluated and are then involved in a memory care program to assist them with their difficulties.

Sauk Prairie Memory Care Center

Maplewood of Sauk Prairie offers memory care services for those who are faced with the difficult challenges of memory loss, including dementia and alzheimer’s disease.

Our memory care programs are offered within Evergreen Court, a special unit dedicated specifically for memory care residents.  This secured area is staffed by our wonderful team who have been specially trained in the areas of memory care treatment.

Evergreen Court offers 14 private rooms with handicap accessible bathrooms.  This quaint setting provides ongoing support through memory activities, interactions with others and a place where special attention can be provided for the specific needs of each of our residents.

Through a structured program, our staff works with our residents to include ongoing daily activities that supports their mind and supports them as a unique individual.  Daily games, crafting, interactive activities and special events make Evergreen Court a special place to assist those who are having memory difficulties.

In addition, this special unit has its own outdoor courtyard where you will find residents taking care of flowers, conversing with one another or just taking in some beautiful weather.

Memory Care Help is Close to Home

At Maplewood, we understand the impact that memory loss, including dementia and alzheimer’s disease, can have on a family.  You want the absolute best for those that you love and that’s exactly what we want as well.

If you have a loved one that needs memory care treatment, we encourage you to call us and speak with us directly about how we may help.  Call us at 608-643-3383.  We would be happy to talk with you and answer all of the questions that you may have.

 

Kimberly Williams-Paisley, wife of country artist Brad Paisley, has opened up about the struggles that her mother has faced. Her mother was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a form of dementia that is incurable.

Her mother’s diagnosis came in 2005 after she began to act irrationally during Kimberly and Brad’s wedding. Her mother who now resides in an assisted living facility continues to struggle with the illness.

In her NBC interview, Kim states, “I’ve learned the same thing from my children that I’ve actually learned from my mother, and that is to be in the present,” she said. “And I think that’s actually a gift that my mother got from dementia. And I think my kids have a similar sense about it. They don’t go and look at my mom and imagine how she used to be.”

Kimberly Williams-Paisley shares candidly about her mother’s dementia

What is Primary Progressive Aphasia?

According to the National Aphasia Association, Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a rare neurological syndrome in which language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired, while other mental functions remain preserved. Unlike other forms of aphasia resulting from stroke or traumatic brain injury, PPA is a degenerative brain condition.

Primary Progressive Aphasia is not related to Alzheimers Disease.  Those who suffer from PPA will continue to be able to take care of themselves and pursue hobbies that they enjoy.  However, they will progressively lost their ability to speak, write, read and understand what they hear.

Cause and Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no know cause of PPA.  Although it typically effects the left hemisphere of the brain, it continues to be a very elusive illness.

Researchers and physicians are testing a variety of medications for PPA, however, there is no cure for the disease.

 

Here is an informative video on dementia from the Dementia Society of America

To learn more: Dementia Society of America

Dementia is an umbrella term for the loss of cognitive function associated with a number of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, Huntington’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. This loss of cognitive function results from the death of once active nerve cells in the brain. The common threat between these conditions is the loss of a person’s ability to think, remember, and reason. Symptoms of dementia often include difficulties with visual perception, language skills, and ability to pay attention. Some people also suffer from the inability to control their emotions. There are many causes of dementia.

Some dementias are reversible, and some are progressive. Dementia caused by infections, metabolic disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and poisoning may be reversed with appropriate therapy. However, progressive dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and frontal temporal dementia only get worse with time. So being diagnosed with dementia is often a frightening experience. The diagnosis affects not only the patient, but also their families, loved ones, and caregivers. Furthermore, many individuals have what is referred to as mixed dementia, meaning: They suffer from multiple causes of cognitive dysfunction, and often the cause of dementia is not known.

The major risk factor for dementia is age, although dementia is not a normal part of aging, and many elderly people maintain high levels of cognitive function well into the 90s.