What is Dementia ?
Posted on March 24th, 2023

Sasanka  De Silva Pannipitiya

Dementia is a general term used to describe symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities to the point where it interferes with a person’s daily life.

Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a term used to describe a set of symptoms caused by various underlying conditions or diseases.

It can affect a person’s ability to communicate, solve problems, and complete everyday tasks, and it often gets worse over time.

Some of the most common types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a type of progressive dementia that affects a person’s ability to think, reason, and remember.

It is caused by the brain’s buildup of abnormal proteins called Lewy bodies.

These proteins interfere with the brain’s normal functioning and can lead to a range of symptoms, including:

Cognitive problems: LBD can cause problems with thinking, memory, and attention. It may also cause hallucinations and delusions.

Movement problems: LBD can cause tremors, stiffness, and problems with movement and balance. It may also cause falls and difficulty walking.

Sleep disturbances: People with LBD may experience vivid dreams, nightmares, and other sleep disturbances.

Fluctuating alertness: LBD can cause a person’s level of alertness to fluctuate throughout the day, with periods of confusion or drowsiness followed by periods of increased alertness.

Autonomic dysfunction: LBD can affect the autonomic nervous system, leading to problems with blood pressure, digestion, and bladder and bowel control.

LBD is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease because it shares many of the same symptoms.

However, LBD has some distinct features, such as visual hallucinations and fluctuating alertness, that can help distinguish it from other types of dementia.

There is currently no cure for LBD, but treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Wandering is a common behaviour in people with dementia, and it can be challenging to prevent completely.

Here are some tips that can help reduce the risk of wandering and keep the person safe:

Keep the person engaged: Provide them with activities that they enjoy, such as puzzles, music, or art. This will help keep them occupied and reduce their urge to wander.

Create a safe environment: Install locks on doors and windows and use alarms or sensors that alert you when a door or window is opened. You can also consider installing a fence or a gate around the yard to prevent the person from wandering away.

Provide supervision: Make sure that someone is always watching the person, especially during times when they are most likely to wander, such as during the evening or when they are agitated.

Use identification: Make sure the person wears identification at all times with their name, address, and phone number, in case they wander off and become lost.

Consider GPS tracking: There are various GPS tracking devices available that can be worn by a person with dementia, and you can track their location using a smartphone or computer.

Seek professional help: If the person’s wandering behaviour becomes severe or challenging to manage, it may be necessary to seek the help of a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a social worker, who can provide additional advice and support.

There are trained service animals that can provide assistance to people with dementia, including helping to prevent wandering and keeping them safe.

These animals are typically trained to perform tasks such as guiding the person back to their home if they become lost, or alerting caregivers if the person is in distress.

Some organizations train dogs specifically for people with dementia, and these dogs can be trained to perform tasks such as responding to verbal commands, retrieving items, and providing comfort and companionship.

However, it’s important to note that not all people with dementia may benefit from a service animal, and the decision to get a service animal should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional.

If someone is interested in getting a service animal for a loved one with dementia, they can contact organizations that specialize in training and providing service animals.

These organizations can provide more information about the process and requirements for getting a service animal.

Sasanka  De Silva


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