Dementia is a general term which describes a decline in mental ability, with impairments to thinking, communicating and memory, which eventually begin to interfere with the onset of day – day life. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, approximately 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia. This number is set to rise to over a million in the coming decade.
Dementia has many different types with the most common being Alzheimer’s, making up to 60-80% of total cases. There are a wide range of symptoms which present differently in each individual. The impact of Dementia on an individual is not only dependent on the type of diagnosis, but also depends on the individuals’ personality, social situation, and general health. All these factors play a significant role in the impact of the condition.
Aging is a natural process that happens to all of us. This process like any other comes with its pros and cons. As a con, it is quite normal to become forgetful from time to time especially when one is nearing or already in their “pension years”, (from 60 years), and this is relatively normal. Cases of severe increase in memory loss, coupled with several other symptoms such as:
- impaired communication and language
- impaired ability to focus and pay attention
- impaired visual perception
- failing sense of direction, however become quite alarming!
With these, a diagnosis of early stage dementia is most likely.
The NHS, (National Health Service) indicates the early signs of Dementia include:
Problems with communication
During the early signs of Dementia, the individual exhibits difficulty with simple every day conversations. The individual finds it difficult to find the right words, and also has difficulty with expression and explanation, and they may hold a disjointed conversation, which is incoherent and difficult to make sense of.
Changes in mood, behavior and personality
As Dementia tends to affect judgement, visible changes to one’s mood and personality can be a common sign of the condition. They may be exhibiting rapid and unprovoked mood swings, with depression being a typical sign of early Dementia.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
It becomes progressively difficult for the individual to complete every day familiar tasks such as; dressing, activities, cooking, cleaning etc.
The individual loses interest in work, social activities, or their once-loved hobbies.
This is one of the most common early signs of Dementia. The individual may experience different levels of memory loss which begins to disrupt daily life – particularly short term memory loss. The individual tends to forget recently learnt information, messages, or begins struggling to remember routes or names.
Confusion and disorientation with time and place
Some common signs of the onset of Dementia, include failing sense of direction, spatial orientation and increasing confusion. This also includes losing track of time, forgetting where they are, forgetting familiar objects and their use. Becoming easily disorientated makes it difficult for the individual to follow a series of directions or instructions.
Loss of Judgement
Loss of judgement can be a sign and a symptom of Dementia. One may show signs of making inappropriate decisions, as a result of being unable to evaluate and consider their actions and the consequences as before.
New research highlights that there is a strong link between blood pressure and Dementia. It has indicated that both low and high blood pressure may cause or worsen Dementia.
According to findings published by the Public Library of Science, researchers at the Heart Brain Connection Collaborative Research Group concluded that changes in blood pressure can negatively impact brain functioning and possibly lead to or exacerbate Dementia.
Previous studies have linked elevated blood pressure with cognitive performance, but the BBC reported that these findings are among the first to suggest that low or inconsistent levels may also carry negative side-effects on the brain.
The dangers of low blood pressure
The scientists found that postural hypotension, more commonly known as low blood pressure, can be detrimental because it changes the natural flow of oxygen to the brain. Individuals who experience dizziness when standing or sudden waves of light- headedness may be exhibiting signs of low blood pressure. This is usually more common among older adults. The authors cautioned that this may be a very subtle effect that exacerbates Dementia risks and for that reason may be underreported or misunderstood.
The underlying theory is that low blood pressure affects blood circulation, and if this is a chronic problem can cause damage to brain structures that contribute to Dementia. One researcher told the BBC that this is especially noteworthy if light-headedness is a persistent problem.
“If people experience frequent episodes of dizziness on standing, particularly as they get older, they should see their GPs for advice”, according to several articles of research.
The dangers of high blood pressure
The organization, Blood Pressure UK, cautioned that, older adults should specifically put emphasis on cardiovascular health. Evidence suggests that both hypotension (low blood pressure) and hypertension (high blood pressure) can worsen cognitive function.
A study, released in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this week, revealed middle aged patients with high blood pressure scored worse in tests of attention 30 years later.
Elevated blood pressure can damage or even rupture blood vessels in the brain. Structural damage can directly affect cognitive abilities and can lead to symptoms associated with Dementia. In older adults, the body may not be able to compensate for a lack of energy and oxygen and may not rebuild important neural pathways.
How to stay healthy
There are a number of ways to lower your blood pressure, meeting with a GP is a smart way to learn more about your cardiovascular health and begin to build a plan. Diet and exercise are the main attributes to a healthy heart. Regular exercising keeps the body strong and wards off extra weight that can constrict blood flow. Consuming unprocessed foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals strengthens veins and combats high blood pressure ensuring a healthy body and brain. Centrally, consuming processed foods such as fatty foods, red meat and processed sugars can all contribute to clogged arteries or poorly oxygenated blood which in turn can make the heart work harder and elevate blood pressure, causing damages to health.
Certain habits can also negatively impact heart health, and older adults should be mindful of drinking in excess or smoking. Both of these can undermine a healthy diet and regular exercise. Anyone living with elevated blood pressure should employ all available options to try to achieve a more stable level and avoid health complications.
Finally, remember that seeking professional help in taking care of your loved ones suffering from Dementia is beneficiary, not only to them but to the whole family as this provides assured care, attention, and love from trained personnel. At Stellar Care, we offer immaculate services with a 100% guarantee of expertize service and deliverance of care at its best.
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