Can I Reduce My Risk of Getting Dementia?

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Dementia is a disease that many of us worry about getting in old age because of the affect it can have, not only on the sufferer, but the whole family. Our other worry comes from the fact that is no known cure at the moment and often there is no clear diagnosis.

With no cure and difficult diagnosis we ask ourselves is there anything I can do to reduce my chances of getting Dementia. The good news is there is things we can do but the bad news is that for many of us we are too late in life to change what we have already done!

The risk of dementia, disability and frailty will sometimes be determined by factors that can’t be changed, such as inherited conditions, injury or our early life education. But changing specific risk factors and behaviours can reduce the risk of dementia, disability and frailty for many people. These changeable factors include smoking, lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, poor diet, being overweight and mental health.

Even if you think it is too late to change your lifestyle, think again because modifying our lifestyles at any stage can increase our chances of living healthier for longer.

Looking at the changeable factors where we can influence our health:

 Smoking

Smoking has an extremely harmful effect on the heart, lungs and blood vessels, including the blood vessels in the brain. Research shows that smokers have a 50 per cent greater chance of developing dementia than those who have never smoked, but this risk can be significantly reduced by quitting the habit.

Personally I do not get why people continue to smoke, how many times does it have to be said that it is really bad for your health and is anti-social. If you want to stop smoking it is a good idea to visit your GP. They can provide help and advice about quitting, and can refer you to an NHS Stop Smoking Service. The help is there, use it.

 Physical Activity

Being physically active is important for the health of both brain and heart, and should be something you do as part of a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that regular exercise in middle-aged or older adults can improve thinking and memory, and reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week, with a moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking or cycling. To make a real difference you need get your heart rate up and break into a sweat.

Alcohol Consumption

The old guidance was not to drink more than the recommended levels of alcohol (those recommended levels are shown below) but this has changed in October 2015 to any alcohol consumption between the ages of 40 to 64 increases the risk of developing various forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It is not about being teetotal but keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum, drop the glass of wine at the end of every day just have it on special occasions.
The old NHS guidelines suggest that men should not regularly drink more than 3–4 units of alcohol a day, and women should not regularly drink more than 2–3 units a day. A pint of lower-strength lager and a standard 175ml glass of wine each contain around two units of alcohol. We have left this guidance in to help people below 40 keep their consumption below sensible levels.

 Poor Diet

Poor diet can affect a person’s risk of developing many types of illness, including dementia. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet and a normal body weight is likely to reduce the chance of developing high blood pressure or heart disease, both of which put a person at greater risk of developing dementia. Avoid those ready meals and many processed foods because they give you too much sugar, bad fats and salt in your diet.

Eating a diet with a high proportion of oily fish, fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals such as whole-grain bread and olive oil, and low levels of red meat and sweets may help to reduce the risk of dementia. Remember to cut-out the high sugar level drinks as well.

Being Overweight or Obese

Being Overweight or Obese increases someone’s chances of developing risk factors for dementia, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. This means people who are overweight or obese, especially in mid-life (40 to 64), are at an increased risk of developing dementia.

Noting what was said above about Poor Diet and Physical Activity and making those lifestyle changes will help people to avoid becoming overweight or obese and (in most cases) help you to lose weight.

 Mental Activity

Research suggests that people who continual stimulate their brains by reading, learning or doing puzzles are less likely to develop dementia, compared with those who do not engage in these activities. Some research in Sweden showed that early life achievers and those that handled complex data at work had reduced risk of dementia.

Mental activity appears to increase the brain’s ability to cope with, and compensate for, physical damage. By being mentally active your brain can tolerate more damage before symptoms of dementia are detected. Be a life-long learner and take up new hobbies are great ways to challenge your brain and keep it active.

Other areas of risk are:

Depression

Depression is a probable risk in developing dementia. Do not suffer in silence with depression, you should seek help from the GP early because it can be treated, either with drugs or talking therapies (or both).

High blood pressure

High blood pressure in mid-life significantly increases the likelihood of developing dementia in later life. Once you are over the age of 40 you should make sure your blood pressure is checked regularly and follow any medical advice to keep it under control.

Diabetes

The risk of developing dementia has a strong link with having type 2 diabetes. Reduce your chances of developing diabetes by staying at a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet that is low in sugar. If you already have diabetes, it’s important to manage your condition correctly and follow medical advice.

Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels in mid-life have been shown to increase your risk of dementia later on. Cholesterol levels later in life do not seem to have the same effect, but advice seems to change all the time so I would still control it after 65.

If you are the over the age of 40 then get your cholesterol level checked to make sure that you are within a healthy range. Your GP will give you advice on how to reduce your cholesterol if it is too high.

At Everycare, even though we are here to look after people in later life, we want to you all to live as independently and healthily as possible. We recommend you review your lifestyle and adapt it to live a healthy life. We can help by taking on some of the chores you hate doing while you carry on engaging in healthy activities.

Support Available In Winchester For Dementia Sufferers

Support Available In Winchester For Dementia Sufferers

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There are currently 800,000 people suffering from Dementia, and it most commonly affect those who are over the age of 65. The main symptoms of Dementia include: confusion, memory loss, and difficulties with thinking, problem solving and language. Dementia can affect anyone at any point in their lives, and there is a high likelihood that you or someone you know is affected by Dementia.

The Dementia Advice Service has recently opened an office in Winchester. They offer a wide range of services to help support those experiencing Dementia, and these include: dealing with questions that you may have regarding the subject, identifying what information you need and how to find it, provide tailored information for you, informing you of local services, and supporting you to make plans for the future.

The Alzheimer’s Society also offers a wide range of services in the Winchester area. The services on offer include: activity clubs, support groups, Dementia information drop-ins, musical activities, outings, support and outreach lunch clubs and an outreach services. These services are on offer to help to provide support to those who are affected by Dementia within the local community.

Andover Mind has also reached an agreement with Solent Mind to run a well-being centre in Winchester. This centre is based on Parchment Street, and provides a wide range of support and advice to those who are affected by Dementia. This includes activities: creative writing, career building, , healthy eating, art and self-help groups. Solent Mind also offers Dementia reablement, to assist those who have experience deterioration in health. This is because they may need to relearn the skills essential to keep them safe and independent at home.

The Dementia reablement provided by Solent Mind concentrates primarily on restoring the individual’s ability to function independently as opposed to treating the health-related problems directly. This project also aims to raise awareness about Dementia, through the use of services within the local community aiming to create more Dementia-friendly communities. This is done through supporting relatives, carers and hospital staff to make sure that individuals are being treated well enough during any hospital stays, and by making sure that any individuals referred to Solent Mind are visited daily by a member of staff who will spend plenty of time with them during their stay. They will be able to listen and provided any additional support that is needed to make sure that your voice is heard, promote an understanding of the individual’s needs, and upon hospital discharge they can also make sure that you are referred to Dementia and home support services that are appropriate for you.

There is a wide variety of support options available for those who are affected by Dementia in any way. These services can be beneficial to both the person suffering from Dementia, and anyone who is providing support to them.

What support is available for Dementia sufferers and their family members?

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There are currently 670,000 people suffering from Dementia in the UK and it is estimated that by 2021 over a million people will be diagnosed with the condition. With the disease becoming even more prevalent, what support is available to those dealing with the difficult symptoms associated with Dementia?

Day centres and activities:

In some communities day centres may be available for individuals suffering from Dementia. Day centres offer therapeutic activities that may help tackle the symptoms of the disease, which can have an extremely positive impact on the individual’s general health and well-being. From arts and crafts, musical activities, gardening, baking and activities based on the individuals’ lives (e.g. story work), day centres provide a much needed break for both the sufferer and the caregiver. The Alzheimer’s Society runs the Winchester Dementia Cafe, which provides a social activity to support people with dementia in the local area, providing an opportunity for sufferers and caregivers to meet and talk to other people in a similar situation.

Support for the individual at home:

Dealing with Dementia can make day-to-day activities increasingly difficult, but with the right help and support it is possible for an individual suffering with the disease to continue living at home for longer. Homecare is particularly beneficial as it gives the individual a sense of familiarity, which can make them feel more comfortable. A care worker would be able to visit the sufferer at home and provide a variety of support including medication management, meal preparation, domestic duties and personal care. They may also be able to provide support in the form of companionship, helping the individual take a break from home and enjoy their much-loved activities.

Residential care for the individual:

When the symptoms of Dementia develop, residential care can provide crucial support to both the individual and family during this difficult time. Although this may be a hard decision to make, the 24 hour support will help take the weight off family members shoulders, knowing their loved one is in safe hands, receiving the support they need. St Catherine’s View is a unique dementia care home in Winchester, which has been specially designed to suit the care needs of residents with conditions like Dementia.

Support for the caregiver:

Caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, but it also involves dealing with stressful situations, changes in family dynamics, extra workloads and financial pressures, which can sometimes become overwhelming. Respite is the main type of support that is available for a caregiver helping an individual suffering from conditions like Dementia. Respite is available on a 24 hour basis to ensure individuals are receiving the support they need and can vary from a few hours to a few weeks. In Hampshire and other parts of the UK a Take A Break service is offered by the local authority. This service works by providing replacement care whilst the caregiver is away. During this time, they can also complete other tasks including domestic duties, meal preparation, and personal care.

Are Neurological Conditions Becoming More Prevalent In The Elderly?

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In the UK at present there are approximately 10 million individuals suffering from a neurological condition that have a significant impact on daily living. Although neurological conditions can affect any individual at any point in their lives it has been found that these conditions are more prevalent in the elderly and this may be the result of a number of different factors including environmental factors and genetics.

In America it is estimated that one in four adults suffer from mental illness, and 6% of those individuals suffer debilitating effects as a result. In America there many other neurological conditions that are prevalent such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

These neurological disorders can have a significant impact on an elderly individuals daily life. The main issue that affects an elderly individual is memory disorders; these are often the result of conditions such as: Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease, and Parkinson’s.

Dementia

Dementia is one of the most common neurological conditions to affect the elderly population. In the UK there is currently over 800,000 individuals suffering from Dementia, and approximately a third of those individuals are aged 95 or over.

Dementia is a condition that causes an ongoing decline of the brain and in an individual’s abilities, resulting in them experiencing problems with: thinking speed, memory, language understanding and judgement. This in turn can cause an individual to encounter a number of difficulties with daily living, and this is largely because it can make tasks much more challenging as the ability to remember and concentrate is greatly reduced.

At present there is no cure for Dementia, however for milder cases of Dementia there are medications that have been shown to be effective in relieving some of the symptoms. For example Antipsychotics could be used on a short term basis to treat individuals suffering with Dementia who display aggressive behaviour, or those who may be at risk of harming themselves or others. However medications may not be effective for all individuals who are diagnosed with Dementia.

Parkinson’s

It is estimated that 1 in every 500 individuals are suffering from Parkinson’s in the UK, and most of those who are diagnosed with the condition are aged 50 or over.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition, that is caused by a lack of Dopamine as a result of the death of a number of nerve cells in the brain.

There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that an individual is suffering from Parkinson’s, and these include: tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement, pain and tiredness. It is difficult to diagnose Parkinson’s , and this is largely because the only way Parkinson’s can be diagnosed is through a specialist examining the individual for any physical signs of Parkinson’s, and taking a detail history of any symptoms that the individual may be experiencing.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, however there are medications available that may help an individual to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s

Motor Neurone Disease

It is estimated that 2 in every 100,000 people are diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in the UK each year. Generally Motor Neurone Disease affects individuals over the age of 40, and is most common in individuals between the ages of 50 and 70.

Motor Neurone Disease is a rare condition that causes parts of the nervous system to become damaged, which in turn causes progressive weakness and muscle wasting. This condition can have a significant impact on daily living and cause an individual to experience great difficulty in completing a number of activities including: gripping, walking, speaking, swallowing, and breathing. The main symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease include: a weakened grip, shoulder weakness, leg dragging, slurred speech, and a foot drop as a result of ankle weakness. Symptoms generally progress over time, and this may leave an individual unable to move, as well as experiencing great difficulties with communication, swallowing and breathing.

There is currently no cure for Motor Neurone Disease, and the only treatment aims at present are to make the individual feel as comfortable as possible, give the individual the best quality of life possible and to compensate for the progressive loss of body function. For example breathing masks and some medications may help to relieve some symptoms of the condition.

Home Care And Neurological Conditions

The implementation of a Home Care package may be extremely beneficial for an individual who is suffering from a neurological condition, and this is largely because a care worker will be able to support an individual with most areas of daily life including: medication management, personal care, meal preparation, domestic duties and they can also help with supporting an individual with completing activities that they enjoy. For example a care worker may be able to help an individual to get out and partake in social interaction opportunities.

What Support Is Available For Dementia Sufferers?

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Dealing with Dementia can be difficult for both the individual and their caregiver. It is important that they receive the care and support they need. Did you know:

• There are 670,000 people in the UK who are currently suffer with Dementia
• In America there are approximately 5.2 million individuals suffering with Dementia, and it is estimated that 5 million of these individuals are aged 65 or over
• There are a number of different types of support that are available for individuals who are suffering from Dementia and their caregivers.

This article looks at the support that is available for both individual sufferers and their caregivers to help individuals living with Dementia to continue living at home for as long as possible …Read On.

Are Elderly Individuals Suffering From More Memory Problems?

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As we get older there may be a greater possibility of our memory declining, making it more difficult to remember things. This can have a major impact on daily life. This can be a result of a number of different conditions, however there are many ways in which an individual can be supported if they are suffering from memory problems.

A study in 2012 by Adam M Brickman of the Taub institute found that of 650 people over 65, 174 were identified as having had silent strokes which had caused dead spots in the brain. These 174 people scored worse on memory tests no matter how large their hippocampus (the part of the brain that plays in big part in short and long memory) was.

Memory Conditions

There are a number of conditions that could affect and individuals memory and these include: Dementia, Stroke, and the general ageing process could also cause memory problems amongst the elderly.

Dementia

Dementia is an extremely common condition amongst individuals, particularly those over the age of 65. At present it currently affects an estimated 800,000 people in the UK. There are a number of different types of Dementia that can affect an individual. The main symptoms of Dementia include: Confusion, Memory Loss, and problems with speech and understanding. Although there is currently no cure for Dementia it is important that a diagnosis is made early, as it will give medical professionals the opportunity to help an individual to come up with the right treatment plan, and support in dealing with the diagnosis. If a diagnosis is made early it increases the chance of an individual being able to lead an active and fulfilled life.

Stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Strokes need to be treated as a medical emergency, and this is because the faster that a person receives medical attention, the less damage that the Stroke is likely to do to the individual. The main symptoms of a Stroke include: Face (may have drooped to one side), Arms (they may not be able to lift their arms), Speech (may be slurred), and Time is also a key issue when dealing with a suspected Stroke as it is essential that an individual suffering from a Stroke receives medical treatment fast. To raise awareness of Strokes to the general public in the UK, there has recently been a campaign to help people to spot the symptoms of Stroke, which can be remembered by using the word FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time). There are two main types of Stroke and these are: Ischaemic, and Haemorrhagic. Ischaemic Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is stopped by a blood clot, and this accounts for roughly 80% of all Stroke cases. Haemorrhagic Strokes are caused by a weakened blood vessel supplying blood to the brain bursting and causing brain damage. There are a number of different treatments available for Strokes, however these treatment options can vary depending on which type of Stroke an individual has. In general most Strokes can be treated by using medications, which are mainly used to prevent and remove blood clots, as well as reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However ins some severe cases the best treatment option may be surgery, and this would be done to remove any fatty deposits in arteries, or to repair the damage caused by a Haemorrhagic Stroke. Life after a Stroke can be difficult and it may take time for an individual to be able to do tasks that they were previously able to do with ease, and in order to regain these abilities a long period of rehabilitation may be required.

The Ageing Process

Memory loss associated with the ageing process differs greatly to memory loss as a result of other conditions such as Dementia or Strokes. This is largely because with normal age-related ageing individuals will only experience minor changes to their memory, for example they will only forget parts of an experience. Whereas in cases where the memory problem is associated with conditions such as Dementia, the individual may suffer from more extreme memory loss, such as forgetting entire experiences that they may have had. Individual’s may experience some decline in their ability to remember things over time. However this may be very gradual or hardly noticeable, meaning that an individual would be able to continue doing daily living activities for much longer than someone who is suffering from memory problems. As it isn’t a condition, memory loss associated with the ageing process doesn’t have any specific treatments, however an individual may benefit from using memory aids (e.g. notes and reminders) to help them to deal with activities on a daily basis.

Home Care And Memory Problems

An individual who is suffering from memory problems may benefit from a Home Care package, and this is because a care worker may be able to help them with doing tasks that they may struggle to do unaided. For example an individual who is suffering from Dementia may find it difficult to remember to take their medication. A care worker would be able to assist with medication management, and this in turn will also ensure that the individual’s health and well-being is closely monitored. A care worker would be able to assist an individual in a number of areas including: meal preparation, personal care, and going out on outings. A Home Care package can have a major impact on an individual’s ability to cope within daily life, as well as their over their well-being.

Confused Or Loss Of Memory Could It Be Dementia?

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Confused Or Loss Of Memory Could It Be Dementia?

Individual people will experience Dementia (or Alzheimer’s which is a form of Dementia) or the symptoms differently; in most cases individual’s with suspected Dementia are likely to be suffering from: a decline in memory, reasoning, communication skills, a gradual loss of skills that are required to carry out daily living tasks and confusion. Getting a diagnosis for Dementia is essential because these symptoms could mask other illnesses or conditions including: depression, chest and urinary infections, severe constipation, vitamin and thyroid deficiencies or brain tumours.

Making a diagnosis of Dementia is difficult, especially in the earlier stages. The time in which it takes for Dementia to be diagnosed can greatly vary depending on the level of investigation required. The diagnosis process generally varies between 4-12 weeks (on waiting lists) and 6-12 months depending on whether or not monitoring is required before a diagnosis can be made.

If a person is feeling confused, agitated or forgetful then the first assessment stage is with their GP. The assessment with the GP will normally cover: analysis of background information, physical examination and tests, and mental tests.

Analysis of background information is where the GP will spend some time talking to an individual in order to establish some of the symptoms they or the person concerned are experiencing. The GP may also look at both the individual concerned and their family member’s medical histories.

During the physical examination a GP will conduct a number of tests including blood and urine for any likely source of confusion.

Mental tests are a series of questions used by GP’s in order to test an individual’s thinking and memory.

If Dementia is suspected then the GP will refer the individual to a specialist. A second opinion is worthwhile and a specialist can conduct specialised investigations including brain scans and memory testing. Depending on initial diagnosis referral will be to different consultants including: neurologists, specialists in medicines for older people, general adult psychiatrists, and old age psychiatrists.

The individual may, also, be referred to the hospital outpatients for further assessment and scanning. A brain scan can be done in a number of forms including: CT or CAT scans, MRI scans, SPECT scans. CT and CAT scans use x-rays and a computer in order to build up a picture of the brain. MRI scans also create an image of the brain but these use radio signals produced by the body in response to a magnet within the scanner. SPECT scans look at the blood flow through the brain as opposed to looking at the brains structure.

CT and MRI scans may show brain shrinkage, if there is any, and SPECT and PET scans show up any areas of the brain that have a loss of function. The memory tests that were performed on the individual may also show problems in particular areas… However if there are no apparent changes on the scan, the individual may still be suffering from Dementia in its earlier stages as it can be difficult to distinguish from the effects of normal ageing.

If Dementia is diagnosed some professionals feel that the individual should not be told directly because they may not cope with the knowledge. The news is sometimes given to relatives instead for them to pass onto the individual.

Once diagnosed an individual will see their GP on a regular basis for ongoing assessment. This gives the individual a chance to discuss any problems they may be having. The individual my also be referred to a specialist to help to assess changes and for advice about the way an individual can deal with particular difficulties. The GP and a hospital specialist are usually jointly responsible for prescribing any treatment for Dementia.

The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a commonly used test for memory problems when Dementia is suspected. The MMSE is a series of questions and tests in which an individual can score points when answering correctly. This tests a wide range of mental abilities including memory and language. The maximum score for this test is 30 points. A score below 27 may be an indicator that a person may have an impairment of their mental abilities, and this could be a possible sign that an individual has Dementia. The MMSE can also be used after Dementia has been diagnosed to assess changes in an individual’s mental abilities.

On average it is estimated that those who have Dementia who are not receiving treatment for their condition will lose two to four MMSE points each year. The score that a person obtains from an MMSE test is taken into consideration to determine what medications could be particularly useful for the individuals. The MMSE score can be impacted, though, by an individual’s education level.

The overall message is to get professional help as soon as Dementia or Alzheimer’s is suspected.