When you hear the word ‘Dementia’, you might associate it with memory loss. Yet the disease is much more than that. Dementia is defined by the Gale Dictionary of Medicine as “…a loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living, lasting more than six months, not present since birth, and not associated with a loss or alteration of consciousness.”
Mental ability declines naturally with age but when memory impairment starts to interfere with at least two activities of daily living (such as Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Eating or Continence), it is considered dementia.
Holidays evoke images of family traditions and celebrations with friends. But for those of you living with family members who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other dementia, the holidays can be challenging. While it is important that you pay attention to these needs, it is just as important to take care of yourself, enjoy the holidays and add some beautiful memories with your loved ones.
Alzheimer’s, as defined by the Alzheimer’s Association, is “a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.” Symptoms, while mild early on, get worse over time, eventually becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. So treatment focuses on alternative therapies and activities that directly involve the person with Alzheimer’s. One of the benefits of using these therapies is that they may reduce behavioral symptoms of the disease, including agitation, anger, frustration, depression, wandering or rummaging.
Therapies benefit the patient most when they focus on the person’s previous interests. This is because they spark memories, thus taking advantage of the person’s remaining skills while minimizing those that are compromised. Bringing out these memories can also reinforce a person’s sense of belonging in a group, providing friendship and mutual support.