As the number of Americans living with dementia increases, more households will be seeking professional caregivers to take care of their remaining loved ones. Dementia care is challenging because not every patient will develop the disease in exactly the same manner. It is important to understand that each patient has different needs and some changes will occur as the patient ages.
Although the incidence of dementia is higher in middle-income countries than low-income countries, it is also true that dementia cases tend to be less severe in middle-income countries. One reason why this occurs is because dementia is often associated with a patient's poor physical health. In other words, dementia carers are more likely to be involved in cases in which the dementia sufferer is in poor health because the physical health of the patient tends to deteriorate over time. It is also more difficult for family members to detect dementia in cases in which the patient has not developed Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia.
Caregivers for individuals with Alzheimer's disease need to have a thorough understanding of the different stages of the disease. A thorough understanding of each stage is necessary so they can be prepared for what they might see when visiting a patient in the later stages of the disease. A mistake that some people make is assuming that all cases of dementia are the same. This assumption could not be further from the truth. There are actually four distinct stages of Alzheimer's disease and caregivers must know the differences between each one.
During the earlier stages of the disease, there is often no real test for dementia. Caregivers should not assume that their loved one is experiencing dementia if they have not been tested by a physician or other qualified medical professional. The lack of specific testing makes it impossible to tell if the patient is experiencing mild cognitive impairment or if he or she will begin to experience problems with memory, thinking, language and organization.
As the patient begins to experience memory loss and begins to have more severe problems with thought and organization, he or she will likely begin to have more severe cognitive impairment. It is at this point that dementia care providers should consider having the patient tested by an independent professional. The Alzheimer's Association recommends that this occur at least annually. There are no medications that can effectively treat Alzheimer's, and no cure for the condition. However, there are medications that can help prevent the progression of the symptoms and help the patient maintain a level of comfort and control over his or her surroundings. That is why the proper tests are so important.
If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing dementia or Alzheimer's disease, you may need to make changes to your own lifestyle and take the proper tests. Alzheimer's patients can sometimes retain so much of their past life, that they appear as though they are living in their current age. The patient may need to modify their lifestyle, for example, keep a schedule of activities and include family members in their efforts to remember things. If dementia care is already present, the Alzheimer's Association can help you find support groups and find out what support services are available to you.