How much do you know about dementia? Because it’s a common senior condition, every senior needs to understand how dementia works. These facts about dementia can help you learn what you need to know to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Facts About Dementia
For seniors, dementia can be a scary thing to consider. However, for millions of people worldwide, dementia is a fact of everyday life. Even if you don’t develop dementia, understanding it can help you provide support and understanding for an affected loved one. What are the facts about dementia that everybody should know?
Common Dementia Misconceptions
Dementia is a widespread condition, but many misconceptions about it are still common. Before you can understand what dementia is, it’s essential to understand what it is not:
- Dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive diseases that are common to seniors. Dementia refers to the symptoms caused by the disease, not the disease itself.
- Dementia in seniors is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s. However, it can also be caused by other conditions, like a vascular disease. Because different conditions can cause dementia, it’s essential to be specific.
- Dementia is not a part of normal aging, and it is not inevitable for every aging person. While some changes to memory and cognitive functions will occur as we age, dementia is a sign of an underlying condition that needs to be managed.
- There is no cure for dementia, but modern medicine has made great strides in managing and treating the effects of the condition. The earlier someone is diagnosed, the quicker they’ll get needed help.
How Does Dementia Work?
Dementia looks different in every person who lives with it. However, some basic dementia facts can help you understand their experience and plan for the future:
- Dementia is typically first spotted in seniors because of memory slips or cognitive issues that friends and family notice. Dementia is not typically diagnosable until it seriously affects a person’s life.
- Dementia is a progressive condition that will increase in severity as time passes. Finding adequate support for people with dementia is crucial before it progresses to an unmanageable level.
- There are seven stages of dementia. Diagnosis typically does not occur before stage three unless there is a medical reason (such as family history). In the initial stages, people with dementia can stay relatively independent with the right support in place. By the final stage, a person with dementia will need consistent hourly care to meet their needs.
How Does Dementia Impact You?
Because there’s still a social stigma attached to dementia, some people hesitate to discuss it openly or seek treatment. However, discussing and treating dementia is the best way to minimize its impact on patients and caregivers alike:
- Most people who live with dementia do not get a formal diagnosis. This creates a “treatment gap” where most people with dementia will not receive the necessary care, support, and medical interventions to thrive. Experts estimate that up to 75 percent of people with dementia never receive a formal diagnosis or treatment.
- Because of the treatment gap, dementia impacts caregivers as well as those who are affected by the condition. Over half of all dementia caregivers surveyed said that their health or well-being suffered as a result of providing dementia care.
- Experts recommend focusing on early diagnosis and intervention to help people get the care they need. Research shows that early diagnosis leads to better health outcomes and a better quality of life for patients and caregivers.
Now that you know the facts about dementia, you can take action. Talk to your doctor about a dementia screening at your next appointment.
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