WHAT IS DEMENTIA

Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal ageing.

VIDEO:  About Dementia

 

The most common types of dementia?

  • Alzheimer’s disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
  • Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
  • Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations (seeing people, objects or shapes that are not actually there).
  • Fronto-temporal dementia. This type of dementia most often leads to changes in personality and behavior because of the part of the brain it affects. People with this condition may embarrass themselves or behave inappropriately. For instance, a previously cautious person may make offensive comments and neglect responsibilities at home or work. There may also be problems with language skills like speaking or understanding.
  • Mixed dementia. Sometimes more than one type of dementia is present in the brain at the same time, especially in people aged 80 and older. For example, a person may have Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It is not always obvious that a person has mixed dementia since the symptoms of one type of dementia may be most prominent or may overlap with symptoms of another type. Disease progression may be faster than with one kind of dementia.
  • Reversible causes. People who have dementia may have a reversible underlying cause such as side effect of medication, increased pressure in the brain, vitamin deficiency, and thyroid hormone imbalance. Medical providers should screen for reversible causes in patients who are concerning for dementia.

 

VIDEO:  Types of Dementia

 

THE SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA

Because dementia is a general term, its symptoms can vary widely from person to person. People with dementia have problems with:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Communication
  • Reasoning, judgment, and problem solving
  • Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision

Signs that may point to dementia include:

  • Getting lost in a familiar neighbourhood
  • Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
  • Forgetting old memories
  • Not being able to complete tasks independently

VIDEO:  Dementia signs -  Alzheimers

 

What increases the risk for dementia?

  • Age
    The strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
  • Family history
    Those who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
  • Race/ethnicity
    Older African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
  • Poor heart health
    High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
  • Traumatic brain injury
    Head injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.

VIDEO: The causes of Dementia

The treatment of Dementia

Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimer’s disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing and MUSIC, SINGING & DANCING (Movement)  have been shown to slow down the progress of the desease.

 

THE VALUE OF SOCIAL INTERACTION FOR PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA

It’s often said that humans are social creatures, especially when it comes to our health and sense of wellbeing. Studies have shown people with satisfying relationships are less likely to have health problems. They also tend to live longer, happier lives. Of course, Dementia can make things more complicated.

For example, how does Alzheimer’s affect social life? Between behavioural changes, losses in self-confidence, and an increased sense of anxiety, it’s not uncommon for people with dementia to suffer negative social consequences.

For people suffering from Dementia, social interaction can be challenging, yet its importance remains the same. That’s why it can be important to take a moment to learn more about how to encourage social interaction for a person with dementia, and what you can do to help.

 

REASONS TO SOCIALIZE

Even for people who do not have Dementia, as we age, social interactions become increasingly important. One reason why is because they can be essential for staving off cognitive decline. Studies have shown that socially active people experience less memory decline with age.

Part of the reason why is that socializing can be a great form of mental exercise. And mental stimulation has been shown to do everything from helping to reduce your blood pressure to alleviating pain from arthritis. But that means in order to get those benefits, you have to be an active and engaged participant in social activity. That might mean getting lunch with a friend, taking an exercise class, and so forth.

Likewise, research shows that as little as one hour of social interaction per week can create significant improvements in a person’s quality of life. Because even that modest level of social interaction can help break the cycle of isolation and depression that causes so many health problems.

In fact, social interaction and exercise are believed to improve blood flow in the brain, and to help in the creation of new synapses. One result is that people with a large social network are less likely to develop dementia than someone with few friends and acquaintances.

 

HELPING PEOPLE SOCIALIZE

Because it presents such a significant barrier to communication, you will need to learn how to interact with dementia patients. For example, it can be useful to create a positive mood. You might do that with a facial expressions and tone of voice that reflects an upbeat attitude. Because dementia patients may be more willing to engage in activities at certain times of day, it helps to try and work around their schedule.

Depending on the stage of their illness, you may try using simple sentences, speaking in a slow deliberate way. It also helps to try and get a loved one’s attention before speaking, and reducing background distractions like TV.

Socializing outside your family can be valuable as well. It’s often useful to provide tailored or structured activities for your loved ones. Just be sure you take into account their abilities, interests, and needs. But even something simple, like sharing a puzzle or game with another person, can help maintain cognitive function.

 

ALZHEIMER'S AND SOCIALIZING

Engaging with our environment helps us form bonds with the people around us. It promotes health and our general sense of wellbeing. And even with the added difficulties, this remains true for Alzheimer’s patients. It can take some time to learn how to help encourage social interaction for a person with dementia. But even a small effort can have a big impact on someone’s life.

 

When regular SOCIAL INTERACTION takes place in an environment with MUSIC, and the opportunity to SING and DANCE, the therapeutic value to people with Dementia increases three-fold......   

 

VIDEO: The importance of communication

 

THE VALUE OF MUSIC / SINGING FOR DEMENTIA

 

MUSIC AND DEMENTIA

Here is a link to an article by Jackie Pool - an experienced Occupational Therapist

VIDEO: The Magic of Music for Dementia.

 

VIDEO:  The Power of music for Dementia

 

SINGING AND DEMENTIA

The areas of the brain that recall music and nurture singing are among the last to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Many people with Alzheimer’s can enjoy choral singing and gain health benefits from it well after other opportunities for creating, learning, and enjoying friends seem out of reach. Care partners also benefit from singing.

This is what  studies have shown: 

  • That while singing, memories are produced that contribute to self-discovery, self-understanding and identity.
  • That memory and mood in people with dementia significantly improved when they took part in regular singing or listening to music.
  • There is an increase in learning and retention of new verbal material in persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and  singing engages brain regions responsible for motor action, emotions and creativity.

 

VIDEO: Singing For The Brain: HAVERING group

THE VALUE OF DANCE FOR DEMENTIA

In respect of  someone with Dementia, dancing has been shown to encourage communication, and provide an outlet for self-expression. The therapeutic use of  dancing (movement) can further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and  social integration of the individual.

In regard to individuals living with Alzheimer’s, dancing is effective in stimulating social interaction, enhancing mood, reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms, increasing self-awareness and self-expression.

It has been shown that dancing can even maintain - and at times improve - memory and cognitive functioning. The focus of communication is on non-verbal attunement and mindfulness, both of which become increasingly important as many forms of Dementia affects language and cognitive awareness.

 

VIDEO:  Dancing at the HAVERING  Singing For The Brain group

 

It is for the above reasons -  the value of Socializing, Music/Singing and  Dance for Dementia - that make our  Havering Singing For The Brain groups an  appropriate and important facility for supporting people with Dementia and their Carers.    

 

CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA

Here are a few NHS Dementia links you may find useful:     

Living well with dementia

Staying independent

Dementia activities

Dementia and the home environment

Looking after someone with dementia

Dementia and your relationships

Communicating with someone with dementia

Coping with behaviour changes

 

 

 

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