There is a misconception that dementia is a disease, it’s not. Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of brain disorders that make it hard to remember, think clearly, make decisions, or even control your emotions. Alzheimer’s disease is one of those disorders, but there are many other types and causes of dementia
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. About 60% to 80% of people who have dementia have Alzheimer’s. It’s a progressive condition, which means it gets worse over time, and it usually affects people over 65 years old. There’s currently no cure.
Simply put Alzheimer’s occurs when proteins and fibres build up in the brain, they block nerve signals and destroy cells. This leads to symptoms such as: memory loss, personality changes, mood changes, impaired judgement, confusion and problems concentrating.
It is difficult to diagnose Alzheimer’s with 100% accuracy, however there are tests, involving memory, coordination, attention and language that can strongly indicate a presence of the disease. MRI images are used to detect a presence of protein tangles.
Research into a cure for this disease has a way to go however there are indications of an increased risk of Alzheimer’s being linked to cardiovascular disease. It is therefore deemed possible to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by improving cardiovascular health.
The latest research suggests that other factors are also important, although this does not mean these factors are directly responsible for causing dementia. These include untreated depression, loneliness and social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle.
And this is where we come in. At Westhill we care for people with dementia, we organise appropriate activities to stimulate interest and help control symptoms, we challenge people without stressing them, lead them in a direction that they are comfortable with. Dementia treatment is not just drugs and assistance, it’s positive reinforcement, it’s encouragement, it’s reminiscence, sometimes it’s just being there.
With our other residents we work on prevention. We constantly review evidence and the latest research to discover ways to ensure that we are doing all that we can to win the battle against this cruel disease. Current evidence suggests that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active. We encourage people to continue to be as active as possible, both mentally and physically. This can be achieved through reading, education, music, creativity, exercise, hobbies and socialising, anything that gives the brain cells a workout.
Lastly, we support Alzheimer’s research, our team jump at any chance to fundraise, jump being the appropriate word for our senior management team who will be jumping out of a plane next month. I will update you on the success of that in due course but in the meantime, if you would like to support them and Alzheimer’s research, please have a look at our Facebook page and donate. Together we can make a difference.