Q: I was recently told that all dementias are treated the same so it doesn’t matter really what type you have. My mom has Lewy-body dementia. Is this true?
A: I am sorry but you have understood incorrectly. Bringing this awareness to countries that have not made dementia a priority of concern is vital. There are 10 signs and symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) just as there are for Alzheimer’s dementia. Unfortunately LBD is often misdiagnosed with either Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease and the medication treatments for either of them are not beneficial to the person that has LBD. Various drug therapies can make LBD symptoms worse while receiving an early diagnose can improve the quality of life. The symptoms are similar but have different patterns. For example:
LBD according to Alzheimer’s & Dementia Weekly, “these are the common signs and symptoms…
a. Impaired thinking, such as loss of executive function (planning, processing information), memory, or the ability to understand visual information.
b. Fluctuations in cognition, attention or alertness;
c. Problems with movement including tremours, stiffness, slowness and difficulty walking
d. Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not present)
e. Sleep disorders, such as acting out one’s dreams while asleep
f. Behavioural and mood symptoms, including depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, delusions or paranoia
g. Changes in autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and bladder and bowel function.”
There are many studies and research on the different types of dementia and true diagnose is through an autopsy. There is high technology for real time imaging that is promising with assisting to diagnosing dementia types. The brain must be failing in at least two parts of the brain to have a type of dementia.
Another important reason to know the dementia type is that some of the symptoms are inter changeable in the different stages of cognitive abilities. The response of the care-giver toward the persons with dementia can be stressful with the wrong response. Stress for both persons with dementia and person caring all can be dealt with in a less stressful method had the person doing the caring knewn what they were dealing with. It is not right to lump all dementia patients in one and the same category. They are as unique as a set of identical twins. And they should be treated with respect to who they are, not their disease.
And let’s not forget the caregivers. Each family, friend or professional is unique in their role as a care-giver and families especially will need to respect the capability and capacity that other family members are coping with. This is a hard disease to deal and cope with. It is not just making sure your loved one is fed and cleaned. They need meaning and purpose like you and me. It is our job to help them have meaning according to who they are and what they can do and this is hard to do. So, my recommendation if you have a diagnosis, learn what you can about it and prepare for the future.
Q: Hello Ms.Posvar, Daddy has Alzheimer’s and I have been caring for him for three years. I have three sisters and not one of them even calls to see how we are doing. I try hard to understand that we all are different and we have our lives. Daddy is their daddy too. I feel that I am building up such anger and resentment and I am struggling with these feelings and coping with all the changes with daddy. Can you please advise?
A: Thank you for speaking out and sharing. Your feelings and frustrations towards your siblings are normal and understandable. I do not know all the dynamics of your family situation to give you guidance on coping with their behaviour. However, this is your journey, your emotions and you share your dad but the journey you have with him is yours. Reflecting on what you are feeling and knowing it is ok to feel them without hurting yourself or others is a good journey. Care-giving for someone with dementia is very challenging at times and we all cope differently. My suggestions are to spend time with a good friend who can let you vent without judgment, a professional who can help you work out those feelings, find a support group for dementia so you are not feeling so alone on this journey. Organize some time for just you. Email me back and I will give you a list of support groups on line.
Alzheimer’s Support meeting is August 8th, 2015. Email us for details.
Brainy quote: Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
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