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What You Need to Know About Dementia

Dementia Awareness Week is here! Every year, the Alzheimer’s Society recognizes dementia, its effects, and what we can do about it. Unless dementia has directly affected your life or the life of a loved one, you may not be familiar with the disease. We provide many programs that serve Seniors & the Incapacitated, and so many of our clients are affected by, or are working to relieve the pain and frustration of, dementia. Today, in honor of Dementia Awareness Week, we’ll go over what you need to know about dementia.

Dementia is not a natural part of the human life cycle; it is not merely becoming forgetful with age. Memory issues are certainly a symptom of dementia, but this is not the only symptom. Dementia can also affect the young, which is known as early-onset dementia.

Seniors who are living with dementia may be unable to make decisions that are in their best interests. Community Guardianship works with individuals who have dementia, and serves as their guardian. Case managers step in and make decisions that are focused on the well-being of the senior.

Dementia can be caused in many ways. “No two types of dementia are the same,” says the Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia can be caused by lack of blood flow to the brain, Alzheimer’s, Lewy bodies, and more.

Dementia doesn’t only affect the person who has the condition; it also affects the person who cares for the individual. Caregiving to an incapacitated senior is a 24-hour job, and it can be extremely taxing. In-Home Respite Services provides relief to those caring for elderly relatives. Though it may only be for an hour or two a week, it can be a huge weight off the shoulders of someone caring for a senior.

EAC Network hosts Memory Cafés for those suffering from memory loss and their companions. Our next Memory Café is this Thursday, May 18, at Lola’s in Long Beach. Learn more about it here, and call Christine Weber at (516) 539-0150 x218 to reserve your spot!

Memory loss is not the only symptom. If you’re familiar with dementia, you’ll know this already. While dementia can start with memory loss, it progresses beyond that. Individuals can became easily flustered by simple tasks or fly into a rage over seemingly nothing. They can drop into periods of deep depression without a known cause. Memory loss is the most well-known symptom of dementia, but unfortunately it is not the only one.

A senior who has dementia may be unable to shop or make meals for themselves. Not having access to nutritious food isn’t healthy for anyone, especially a vulnerable senior. Meals on Wheels gives seniors the opportunity to have meals delivered to their door, and relieves them from worrying about how to get their next meal.

There is no cure for dementia, but scientists are working towards it. There are drugs that can help ease the symptoms of dementia, as well as lifestyle changes like challenging the brain with puzzles and staying engaged in physical activity.

Seniors can stay active in Senior Community Service Centers where they can socialize while taking part in classes like Dancercise, Zumba, Tai Chi, Wise Workouts, and more.  Senior Health Promotion also helps seniors stay active and engaged, which can be a key factor in both preventing and reducing the symptoms of dementia.

Scientists are also working on dementia prevention, as well as early diagnosis. Learn more about current research here.

To RSVP for the upcoming Memory Café on Thursday, May 18, click here.

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Sarah Muller is the Development & Marketing Assistant for EAC Network. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in English.

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