What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease, it is the term used to describe several different diseases of the brain which affect:
- Language skills
- Visual Perception (being able to see and understand what is being seen)
- Capability to focus and pay attention
- Capability to reason and make decisions
It is important to understand that dementia is more than just memory loss, it is brain failure. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells thru a head injury, blockage to the blood flow, or certain types of proteins that build up and interfere with brain function.
Different parts of the brain are responsible for making different parts of the body work. Therefore, the type of dementia a person has is determined by how and where the cell damage occurs in the brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, when the cells in the brain are damaged it prevents the brain from communicating efficiently. This can affect behavior, thinking, and feelings.
There are many different types of dementia. Dementia is an “umbrella” term used to cover many causes of brain failure.
The four most common types of dementia are:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Vascular Dementia
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
It is not uncommon for a person to have two types of dementia combined, and this is called Mixed Dementia. However, different brain imaging tools (PET Scan, MRI) can help determine which type of dementia one is dealing with. These scans can help solidify a diagnosis and are less invasive and more definitive.
How can you support someone with dementia?
It is important for caregivers to have a general understanding of how dementia affects seniors and their families. While all dementia has some common characteristics, it’s helpful for caregivers to know the distinguishing characteristics of each type of dementia.
The more a caregiver knows about the type of dementia a senior has (if a diagnosis has been given) the more they will recognize and understand behaviors and learn how to use the positive approach when working with them. However, it is important to remember that each person is unique and the course their disease follows will be unique.
Most importantly, remember that those dealing with dementia are not doing these things on purpose. When providing care, caregivers sometimes trigger behaviors without realizing it.
When they understand more about the many different types of dementia, caregivers will begin to improve quality and enjoyment of life at whatever stage of dementia a senior happens to be in.
Learn about different types of dementia in our other blog posts!
Aspen Senior Care provides in-home care for seniors with all types of health challenges, including all forms of dementia.
Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo provides adult day care services (fun activities and personal care) for seniors with all types of dementia.
Contact Karen Rodgers, Family Caregiver Coach, for a free assessment to help you navigate the challenges of caregiving. You can reach her at 801-224-5910.
Visit aspenseniorcare.com or call our office at 801-224-5910 for more information.