Q: Dear Mrs. Posvar. My 7-year-old daughter was at one of your talks about brain health. She wanted me to send you her letter. Here it is:
Dear Mrs. Posvar, My mummy works hard at taking care of daddy. He forgets a lot. Mummy cries a lot. Daddy is sometimes troublesome and not very nice to us. He is more calm now because doctor gave him tablets. But he is not the same anymore. Daddy is not talking very much anymore. In your talk, you said some medicines will make people with dementia worse. Could this be happening to my daddy? You are right: this dementia is so hard on everyone in the family. How can we balance the aggressive behaviour without medication? I hope you can help my mummy and daddy.
A: Dear Sweet Daughter, If your daddy is on medication for his behaviour and you notice the change after taking it, then go back to his doctor to adjust it. Doctors only know and can help when you tell them what is happening. I have noticed that many people will just stop what the doctors tell them to do and never give the doctor any feedback of why they stopped the medication. Many times it takes time to get the right treatment. Build a good relationship with your doctor and the care will improve.
Yes medication can make him worse in many ways and at the same time be effective for controlling behaviours. So families have hard decisions to make in this regard. If you and your family really want to decrease medication for behaviours, it will take patience and learning a new method of communicating that will make sense to your daddy. You and your mummy will understand the condition better from his view. The hardest thing for families to understand is that we the ones with the healthy brains actually are 90% of the reason the person with dementia becomes aggressive. This puts more added guilt to some family members but there is no need because you are unaware. Now that you know, you can change it. Each of us has the ability to empower the person with dementia to function at their best.
For you, Sweet Daughter, there are fun things you can still do with your daddy and thank you for writing.
Helping the person engage in everyday life will slow the progression. It will not stop the disease but it will allow the person to function at best longer. If the person is forced to sit and watch TV or just games all day, they will deteriorate faster. Activities are not about being entertained, but about “doing life.”
There is a lot of information online and you can always request information from local Alzheimer’s associations and get a free consultation. The email for St. Lucia is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s go over warning signs again.
► Memory loss that disrupts daily life
► Challenges in planning or solving problems
► Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure
► Confusion with time or place
► Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
► New problems with conversation threads
► Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
► Decreased or poor judgment
► Withdrawal from work or social activities
► Changes in mood and personality
If you or someone you love are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please get a checkup. Early detection of symptoms can improve quality of life . Here are a few tips:
• Correcting the cause of reversible dementias will decrease risk of developing a dementia that is not reversible. It is important to practice brain health. What is good for the heart is good for the brain.
• Keeping your blood pressure under control and managing your diabetes will decrease your risk factors to developing dementia.
If you are chronically stressed, this will raise your risk of developing dementia. Why? Stressed people do not breathe properly; therefore, do not get enough oxygen to the brain. This is the reason exercise and deep breathing is the best in preventing the risk factors. When I say risk factors, I am talking about the things that contribute to Alzheimer’s or related dementias. For example, uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension and vitamin deficiency.
There is not one thing that causes dementia; it appears to be a collection of things. Scientists understand “what” is happening in the brain but not the “why?” Therefore, understanding the risk factors and how to decrease some of them will decrease your chances of developing the condition. No one is immune to it.
Take care of your brain.
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