- Dementia, including Alzheimer’s, drastically impacts cognitive abilities, often leading to communication difficulties and social isolation.
- Progression of dementia can cause mobility issues, hindering daily activities and increasing the risk of falls.
- People with dementia often experience poor nutrition due to appetite loss or difficulty recognizing hunger, which can lead to health issues.
- Behavioral changes in dementia patients, such as aggression and confusion, pose risks and challenges for caregivers.
- Despite dementia’s challenges, professional care, adaptive technology, social support, and healthy habits can improve quality of life.
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, affects a person’s memory ability but can also cause disabilities that limit independence and quality of life. As dementia progresses, the cognitive and physical decline can be significant, and these changes can happen without warning. Unfortunately, the symptoms of dementia often overlap with other conditions, making it difficult to diagnose and treat. Here’s what you need to know about dementia, how it can leave you disabled, and how to live a life with such a disorder.
What is Dementia?
Dementia includes a wide range of conditions that cause significant disruption in cognitive abilities, such as memory loss, difficulty with language and decision-making, problems with concentration or focus, and difficulties with daily tasks. It’s estimated that about seven million people have this disorder.
Alzheimer’s disease most commonly causes it but can also be caused by other degenerative neurological diseases, like Parkinson’s or vascular dementia. Dementia isn’t a single disease but an umbrella term covering many conditions. Here are some ways dementia can leave people disabled:
1. Challenges with Communication
One of the most common symptoms of dementia is difficulty communicating. When a person with dementia can no longer find the right words or follow a conversation, it can lead to social isolation and frustration. Also, as dementia progresses, reading and understanding written words often becomes limited. When communication difficulties arise, it can lead to anxiety, aggression, and withdrawal from social activities.
2. Mobility Issues
As dementia progresses, mobility issues can become more severe. Memory loss can lead to confusion about where things are or how to get somewhere. Also, dementia can affect balance, coordination, and the ability to perform daily activities such as dressing or bathing. These issues can lead to falls and strain on caregivers who must help with basic tasks.
3. Poor Nutrition
Lack of appetite and reduced food intake are common among people with dementia. It’s unclear why this happens, but it may be due to difficulty chewing and swallowing or losing interest in food. Also, as dementia progresses, it can be challenging to recognize when you are hungry or thirsty, leading to dehydration and malnutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to a weakened immune system, muscle loss, and an increased risk of infections.
4. Behavioral Changes
Behavioral changes are expected in those with dementia and may be challenging for caregivers to manage. As dementia progresses, changes in personality and behavior can become more severe. Examples include aggression, agitation, and wandering. These behaviors can put individuals with dementia at risk of falls and injuries.
5. Medication Management
As dementia progresses, managing medication can become increasingly challenging. It’s common for individuals to forget to take their medications or take too much at once. Also, the medication regimen may become more complicated as new conditions and symptoms develop, increasing the risk of harmful medication interactions or side effects.
Living With Dementia
Living a healthy life while having dementia is one of the essentials if you want to recover fully. Here are four ways you can do that:
It might be wise to hire professional care if you or someone you know has dementia. It’s also suggested that you speak to your doctor and visit a local hospice care center for more information on how they can help you or your loved one cope with the disease. The center can help with daily care, manage medication, and ensure safety.
Adaptive technology can help those with dementia stay independent as the disease progresses. For example, specialized apps on phones or tablets might remind you to take your medications or how to get from place to place. Also, they can provide educational tools that allow you to learn more about the condition.
A support network is critical for those with dementia and their caregivers. Being around friends and family helps stimulate the senses, reduce stress, and provide comfort during difficult times. It’s important to stay connected to your support group through in-person visits or virtual communication (e.g., video calls).
Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Living a healthy life is essential for those with dementia and their caregivers. Eating nutritious meals, engaging in regular physical activity, and getting enough sleep are all important components of a healthy lifestyle. Also, it’s beneficial to participate in activities you find enjoyable, such as listening to music or reading books.
Dementia can be challenging to manage, but resources are available to help you or your loved one cope with the disorder. It’s essential to stay educated on the condition and know how it can affect your quality of life. Reach out for professional care if needed, stay connected to a support group, use adaptive technology when possible, and maintain healthy lifestyle habits. With these tips and resources, you can live a better life with dementia.