At Senior Lifestyle, we know that a dementia diagnosis can be frightening. We also know that for many people, the words “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s Disease” are interchangeable, making a diagnosis of dementia even more stressful. While Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for about 60 to 80 percent of cases, there are other types of dementia. Senior Lifestyle’s unique memory care philosophy, embrace, offers a holistic care program tailored to the specific needs of our residents with differing forms of dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term describing cognitive decline that is severe enough to impair a person’s ability to manage daily life. There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with dementia, with memory loss being the most recognizable; however, memory loss alone does not mean that a person has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Additionally, there is no one singular test for dementia; doctors may make a diagnosis of dementia based on a physical examination, a careful review of medical history, specific changes noted in everyday behavior, as well as laboratory tests. For a diagnosis of dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
While many forms of dementia are both permanent and progressive, meaning the condition will worsen over time, some types of dementia can be reversed when an underlying issue such as depression, medication side effects, excess use of alcohol or thyroid problems is addressed. Additionally, urinary tract infections in seniors can cause a sudden change in mental status known as delirium which often disappears when the underlying infection is treated. While the sudden onset of delirium can be frightening for both the senior and his or her caregivers, it is important to note that this condition is most often a short-lived change which subsides with treatment of the UTI. It is important to address any change in mental status with your health professional to determine the cause and course of treatment available.
When facing a diagnosis of dementia, it is vitally important for families to know what treatments and resources are available to them. At Senior Lifestyle, we encourage families to join Alzheimer’s/Dementia support groups such as those offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, including their online Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center. Additionally, we offer our award-winning embrace memory care philosophy, a program developed to provide care not only for the person with dementia, but for the entire family. For more information about memory care at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.