Alzheimer's Support Group - The support group is open to family members and to the community and meets every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 5:30pm. The support group has speakers from the Alzheimer's Association and people from the community who have loved ones with Alzheimer's. This is a time for sharing and support. It allows the family to know there are people like them and they have someone to call on should they need help.
Princeton Health Care Center works with two hospice entities from our area to help residents and their families cope with end of life issues.
Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.
Chronic brain syndrome; Lewy body dementia; DLB; Vascular dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; MCI
Most types of dementia are nonreversible (degenerative). Nonreversible means the changes in the brain that are causing the dementia cannot be stopped or turned back. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.
Lewy body disease is a leading cause of dementia in elderly adults. People with this condition have abnormal protein structures in certain areas of the brain.
Dementia also can be due to many small strokes. This is called vascular dementia.
The following medical conditions also can lead to dementia:
Some causes of dementia may be stopped or reversed if they are found soon enough, including:
Dementia usually occurs in older age. It is rare in people under age 60 - although some people in their 40s and 50s have been diagnosed with dementia. The risk for dementia increases as a person gets older - 50% of people 85 and older will get dementia.
Dementia symptoms include difficulty with many areas of mental function, including:
Dementia usually first appears as forgetfulness.
Mild cognitive impairment is the stage between normal forgetfulness due to aging and the development of dementia. People with MCI have mild problems with thinking and memory that do not interfere with everyday activities. They are often aware of the forgetfulness. Not everyone with MCI develops dementia.
Symptoms of MCI include:
The early symptoms of dementia can include:
As the dementia becomes worse, symptoms are more obvious and interfere with the ability to take care of yourself. The symptoms may include:
People with severe dementia can no longer:
Other symptoms that may occur with dementia:
Tests & diagnosis
Dementia can often be diagnosed with a history and physical exam by a skilled doctor or nurse. A health care provider will take a history, do a physical exam (including a neurological exam), and perform some tests of mental function called a mental status examination.
The health care provider may order tests to help determine whether other problems could be causing dementia or making it worse. These conditions include:
The following tests and procedures may be done:
For information on how to take care of a loved one with dementia, see: Dementia - home care
The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms of dementia. Treatment depends on the condition causing the dementia. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for a short time.
Stopping or changing medications that make confusion worse may improve brain function.
There is growing evidence that some kinds of mental exercises can help dementia.
Treating conditions that can lead to confusion often greatly improve mental functioning. Such conditions include:
Medications may be needed to control behavior problems caused by a loss of judgement, increased impulsivity, and confusion. Possible medications include:
Certain drugs may be used to slow the rate at which symptoms worsen. The benefit from these drugs is often small, and patients and their families may not always notice much of a change.
A person's eyes and ears should be checked regularly. Hearing aids, glasses, or cataract surgery may be needed.
Psychotherapy or group therapy usually does not help because it may cause more confusion.
People with mild cognitive impairment do not always develop dementia. However, when dementia does occur, it usually gets worse and often decreases quality of life and lifespan.
Complications depend on the cause of the dementia, but may include the following:
When to contact a doctor
Call your health care provider if:
Most causes of dementia are not preventable.
You can reduce the risk of vascular dementia, which is caused by a series of small strokes, by quitting smoking and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating a low-fat diet and exercising regularly may also reduce the risk of vascular dementia.
What is Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer's is difficulty remembering newly learned information.
Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age . Most of us eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing.
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer's is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer's advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
There are many conditions can disrupt memory and mental function. Anyone experiencing significant memory problems should see a doctor as soon as possible. If you need assistance finding a doctor with experience evaluating memory problems, your local Alzheimer's Association chapter can help. Early diagnosis and intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can improve quality of life
Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It may be a symptom of Alzheimer's, a fatal brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor. Learn how Alzheimer's affects the brain and take the Brain Tour.
10 warning signs of Alzheimer's:
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
What's a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.
Decreased or poor judgment
People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
What's a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.
Withdrawal from work or social activities
A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
Changes in mood and personality
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
What's a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted
Scientists have identified factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer's. The most important risk factors—age, family history and heredity—can't be changed, but emerging evidence suggests there may be other factors we can influence.
The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer's is advancing age. Most individuals with the disease are age 65 or older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer's doubles about every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent. One of the greatest mysteries of Alzheimer's disease is why risk rises so dramatically as we grow older.
Another strong risk factor is family history. Those who have a parent, brother, sister or child with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors, or both, may play a role.
Scientists know genes are involved in Alzheimer's. There are two types of genes that can play a role in affecting whether a person develops a disease—risk genes and deterministic genes. Alzheimer genes have been found in both categories.
1. Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease, but do not guarantee it will happen. Scientists have so far identified several risk genes implicated in Alzheimer's disease. The risk gene with the strongest influence is called apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4). Scientists estimate that APOE-e4 may be a factor in 20 to 25 percent of Alzheimer cases.
2. Deterministic genes directly cause a disease, guaranteeing that anyone who inherits them will develop the disorder. Scientists have discovered variations that directly cause Alzheimer's disease in the genes coding three proteins: amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin-1 (PS-1) and presenilin-2 (PS-2).