Before one is diagnosed with dementia, they often experience a range of emotions, questioning what’s wrong with them. Once a diagnosis is made, it often creates more questions than it answers. With 47.5 million people currently living with dementia across the world, many are concerned, creating further questions.
In order to address some of the most common concerns, it’s important to address the inquiries that are on so many minds. Covering both preventative and management measures, hopefully, these answers will help you better understand dementia and its effects on those who live with this set of symptoms.
Is Dementia Hereditary?
When first diagnosed with dementia, many instantly think of their children. How will they be affected when they’re older? Will they also develop dementia? Although this is a practical concern, dementia is not generally inherited. This, of course, depends on the cause of an individual’s dementia. Some cases, such as Huntington’s disease and familial Alzheimer’s, they are in fact inherited.
Other forms of dementia have been linked to both genetics and other non-inherited factors. In cases of frontotemporal dementia, for instance, approximately 30 to 50 percent of cases are inherited. However, in most cases, Alzheimer’s is not inherited, except for the approximate 5 percent who carry the gene for familial Alzheimer’s.
Can Dementia be Prevented?
Since cases of dementia include various conditions and causes, there is no set way to prevent the development of dementia. With that being said, following an active, balanced lifestyle is believed to significantly reduce your risk. A nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, and effective stress management can also help prevent complications regarding the cardiovascular system, especially in terms of heart attacks and strokes.
Although the cause of dementia contributes to specific preventative measures, it’s recommended that you practice the following in order to reduce your overall risk of dementia and its related symptoms:
- Follow a balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid hypertension and high cholesterol
- Be socially active
- Get your mind active through puzzles and games
How Should I Deal with Dementia?
This answer will differ, depending on who’s asking. If the individual affected is concerned, there are a few steps you can take to improve your quality of life. It is normal to experience a range of emotions, but here are some key tips to help you move forward:
- Continue to promote positive health. Just because you have been diagnosed with dementia does not mean your life is over. You should continue to take part in regular exercise, get plenty of rest, and following a healthy diet. You should also stop drinking, as alcohol can interact with medications.
- Keep your doctor informed and schedule regular check-ups to continually improve your treatment plan. If you notice any rapid change in symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor. Also, take all medications that are prescribed.
- Join a support group with others who are experiencing the same challenges. You should also communicate often with friends and family. Don’t be scared to talk about your feelings, especially if they’re creating symptoms of anxiety.
If you’re caring for a loved one, you will be wondering how to deal with symptoms as they progress. Just remember, you’re not alone. There’s plenty of support and there are resources available to assist you. Begin educating yourself regarding the disease so that you’re better prepared. The more you know, the better. This will help you approach symptoms with a greater level of understanding.
What is the Difference between Dementia and Delirium?
Although both delirium and dementia are similar in that they’re the most common causes of cognitive impairment, they are significantly different. Both are their own unique disorder/syndrome, however, the symptoms can sometimes be hard to differentiate.
While delirium often affects attention, dementia is more prone to affect memory. Their causes are also significant, as delirium is generally brought on suddenly by an illness or drug toxicity, often being reversible. Dementia, on the other hand, is when physical changes occur in the brain and cannot generally be reversed. It’s onset is also much more gradual in comparison to delirium.
What is the Life Expectancy of Dementia Patients?
Depending on one’s condition and health prior to their diagnosis, the life expectancy of dementia patients ranges. It’s said that those who are diagnosed before the age of 70 tend to live for a decade or longer. In terms of all dementia cases, the average life expectancy is around 4.5 years.
This number was reported based on a 14-year long study conducted by the University of Cambridge, examining 13,000 individuals who were 65+ years and were suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Women tend to live longer than men and those who were frailer typically passed away before healthier individuals.
Janssen. (2013). Coping with Dementia. Dementia.com. Retrieved from http://www.dementia.com/coping-with.html
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Dementia Prevention. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/basics/prevention/con-20034399