What is Dementia?

What is Dementia?

There are lots of questions surrounding Dementia. What is it? How do I know if I have it? What is Alzheimer’s? What can I do if I think I have dementia?
It’s a scary word and people often think a dark future lies ahead. In this blog I hope to answer some of these questions you might have and provide some help as to who you can turn to for help if Dementia is affecting your life. I hope also to give some hope, some light in dark times that you can live along side this disease and still find joy and peace.
Dementia is an umbrella term used for a range of conditions that cause damage to the brain

What causes Dementia?
There are different types of dementia (over 400 different types) the most common being Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Disease, Front-temporal dementia and Early Onset dementia. Each type has different signs and symptoms and can be linked to different diseases affecting different parts of the brain.

Alzheimer’s Disease
The majority of cases of dementia in older people are Alzheimer’s disease. It is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time.
Symptoms can be difficulty in the following areas: remembering recent events, finding the right words, figuring out problems or making decisions judging distance and finding the way to familiar places. As Alzheimer’s advances it can include problems with language, mood swings, loss of motivation, lack of managing self care and often behavioural issues.
It is important to remember that even with signs of the above it may not be Alzheimer’s disease and only a visit to your GP for further tests will determine the cause.

Vascular Dementia
This type of dementia often occurs following a stroke affecting the major blood vessels. It can also progress slowly or over time through a series of small strokes or damage to blood vessels in the brain. Symptoms can include memory loss, disorientation problems with communication and changes in how the person walks.

Fronto-temporal Dementia
This form of Dementia can affect behaviour, personality and language function. Some cases can be linked to motor neurone disease. Some symptoms are changes in personality and eating patterns, a lack of awareness for personal hygiene or social awareness, and difficulties speaking or understanding others. This type of Dementia can be common in younger people but also develop in older individuals. This type of dementia affects the front of the brain and the temporal lobes (over the ears).

Lewy Body Disease
This type of dementia can look similar to Parkinson’s disease. People affected might shuffle as they walk and be more prone to falls. Some other symptoms include hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that are not there. Often people can sleep during the day but sleep at night can be disrupted.

Early Onset Dementia
Early onset dementia can affect those with other health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, MS, Huntington’s disease, HIV or Aids. People who develop dementia at a younger age may have a strong family history of dementia. Genetics may have a role in the development of their condition. This type of dementia can affect people in their 40s or 50s.

Light in the dark
Memory lapses, forgetfulness and confusion don’t always mean dementia. There are other medical conditions that have similar symptoms. Depression, stroke and side effects of medications can all be mistaken for dementia. It is always important to first check with your GP if you have any doubts.

Although there is currently no cure for Dementia there are medications that can help and treatments that can allow you to live with the symptoms.

Remember there is help
The Alzheimer society of Ireland is a great place to find help, advice and support.
It’s not only the person suffering with Dementia that will need support but, the families and friends of the person affected also need support as there can be challenging times ahead.
Some of the supports and information that the Alzheimer’s society of Ireland provide are
National helpline 1800341341
• Social clubs
• Support groups
• Day care centres
• Home care
• Respite centres
• Dementia advisor service
• Case management service
• Society branches
• Cognitive stimulation therapy

Beechtree and Dementia
With a holistic approach, Beechtree Nursing Home provides care for many people with Dementia. We have decided that along with caring for people with Dementia we also want to help and support families and loved ones, and a good place to start is to be part of the fundraising for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. We recently held an awareness and fundraising day in support of the Alzheimers Society at a local shopping centre. We had lots of people stop by our stand and talk about their experiences with Dementia and Alzheimer’s and how it affected their lives and those of their loved ones.
We plan to further support The Alzheimer society of Ireland by running the Women’s’ mini marathon in June. We have lots of willing and able staff to partake in this wonderful event.
We can all make a difference and give hope and light in dark times to those people affected by this disease.
For further information
Helpline phone number 1800341341

For some really great videos with lots of information check out the following link

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” (Heather Louise)