July 09, 2021 3 min read
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability that interferes with a person's daily life. It is not a disease, but a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in cognitive functions (memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, judgement, the ability to perform everyday tasks) and a loss of behavioural abilities (increased apathy and indifference).
Dementia is extremely common. It affects 1 in 10 Singaporeans aged above 60 and half of those above 85. Worryingly, early onset dementia is also on the rise. There is an increasing trend of people in their 40s and 50s being diagnosed with the condition.
There are over 400 types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s Disease making up 60 to 80% of all cases. Other common forms of Dementia include Vascular dementia, caused by strokes which disrupt blood circulation to the brain, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Dementia affects each person differently. This depends on the impact of the disease and the person’s personality before the condition. Here are some early symptoms to look out for:
The signs and symptoms of dementia can be understood in 3 stages. However, note that this is a general guide as it is difficult to categorise them into 3 distinct stages. Symptoms vary depending on the individual and type of dementia.
Many dementia patients suffer from mobility issues. Consider purchasing Bed Rails that can help the elderly get up easily and prevent them from rolling off the bed.
Especially for the later stages of dementia, the elderly may experience difficulty in functions like bowel and bladder control. Consider purchasing commodes and place them beside the bed to limit the distance the elderly need to take to use the toilet.
Even though the cause of dementia still remains unknown, there are certain steps we can take to improve our overall health that can help to prevent dementia.
Staying active can reduce the risk of dementia and slow the progression of cognitive conditions. Try out aerobic exercises such as Tai Chi, running, yoga, dancing and pilates to improve your heart and circulatory system. Check out our Exercise Products to train your strength, balance and flexibility to help seniors stay agile. This prevents falls, lowering the risk of brain injury and hence dementia.
Proper nutrition can help to ease behavioural symptoms. Generally, a balanced diet low in sugar and saturated fat, and high in omega fats and vitamins can help to prevent dementia.
Persistent stress and anxiety increases the likelihood of dementia. Set aside time to unwind, try meditating, hang out with your friends and family and do something you enjoy to lower your stress levels.
Poor sleep increases the buildup of proteins in the brain that can lead to loss of memory and Alzheimer’s. Establish and commit to a regular bedtime if you have poor sleeping habits. Consult your doctor if you have trouble sleeping and insomnia.
There is still no treatment available to cure dementia. However, there are ways to manage the symptoms of dementia and slow its progressive cause.
Medication can help with symptom management to slow down the progression of dementia. It can also help with other issues that arise because of dementia such as depression and irritability.
Maintaining a healthy and engaged mind helps to delay declines in our cognitive functions. Try out puzzles, riddles and play games to help with mind stimulation. View our dementia activities HERE.
Reminiscence therapy and cognitive stimulation therapy can help to jolt the memory of dementia patients. Bringing up past memories, playing their favourite music and engaging in activities they used to enjoy can make them happy and improve their quality of life. Learn to make a dementia memory kit HERE.
Make lifestyle changes by following the prevention measures above. Regular exercise and sufficient sleep can help to relieve stress and ease behavioural symptoms, slowing down the progression of the condition.
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