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How to look after family members with dementia

On 08 Oct 2022, Seniors Today hosted their weekly Health Love Webinar with Dr Aditya Singh who spoke on – How to look after family members with Dementia. 

 

A little about Dr Aditya Singh 

Dr Aditya Singh comes with an experience of over 2 decades in the field of neurosurgery. He is currently associated with the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi as Senior Consultant in the Department of Neurology. He has vast experience in managing brain as well as spine disorders, including brain and spine trauma, vascular, skull based neuro-oncology and paediatric cases. His main interest include minimally invasive brain and spine surgery. Additionally, Dr Singh has been an academician and has published his work in national as well as international platforms and helps to groom young neurosurgeons. He received a note of appreciation and momentum from Mrs Mona Ashraf, the Indian Consulate in Switzerland. He was also felicitated by the Geriatric Society of India for his immense contribution to the society in Oct 2018. He recently received the International Board of Medicine and Surgery, the Emerald Award from them. His areas of expertise include brain and spine trauma, vascular injuries, neuro oncology and paediatric oncology. 

 

When we hear someone say “dementia” we only think of loss of memory. Dementia is a chronic/ persistent disorder; a process in which there are visible personality changes along with memory loss and impairment. 

 

We all need to know that dementia can occur because of various reasons, however in our part of the world we believe that it is only associated with the elderly. 

There are few causes which are reversible. 

Dementia can also occur in a young person

 

In the elderly, there are different causes of dementia. 

  • The most important cause is Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Protein deposits in the brain, which are called Lewy body deposits and this causes loss of memory 
  • Vascular causes 
  • Reversible causes- lifestyle changes, nutritional deficiencies, chronic alcoholism, smoking

 

There are various classifications of Dementia, of these, for example frontotemporal dementia is progressive and is not reversible. 

 

Dementia due to Alzheimer’s in the age of 50s to 60s is not a good sign. 

Alzheimer’s usually sets in a little late, in the 70s or 80s. But when it occurs in the age of 50s/ 60s or 70s, it is not a good sign. Leading to an increase in the burden on caregivers and the patient also suffers. 

 

Dementia patients can classified in to 3 types for easy understanding 

  1. Mild cases: the patients tend to forget what they had for breakfast/ lunch, they tend to forget where they have placed their things, etc. These cases can be managed at home 
  2. Moderate cases: in such cases the caregivers are perpetually worried because the patients tend to forget places, addresses, etc. 
  3. Severe cases: the patient does not remember where he stays/ who he stays with. These individuals cannot be managed at home and requires medical intervention and treatment 

 

Lessons for caregivers with elderly suffering from dementia: 

  • The caregivers need to understand that they should not argue with someone who is suffering from dementia, because the patient will not understand. So instead of arguing, you need to ask them how you can help them out and try to get a better understanding of how they are feeling. 
  • The caregivers need to be soft, patient and kind with the patient. 
  • Do not try to question the patients or test their memory because that might upset them 

 

Dementia is a degenerative disease, and when there is a degenerative disease, only then do the 

Lewy body proteins get deposited in the brain. There is not much that you can do to avoid deposition of Lewy body proteins in the brain. Consuming a diet low in protein will NOT help in avoiding their deposition. 

These proteins i.e. Lewy body proteins get deposited in the vascular structure of the brain thus affecting the areas which are responsible for our memory, which is the temporal region of the brain. 

 

These days, the number of cases diagnosed with dementia has increased, the reason being awareness about the disease and early intervention and diagnosis. It can also occur due to the stress level in our lives. Another factor that might have caused a rise in the number of cases of dementia is loneliness. 

Dealing with stress is an important factor and learning how to cope with it can help. 

 

If an individual has been diagnosed with dementia and has the complaint of thought block, you cannot start the patient of a medication for it directly, since the thought block is a symptom that is being caused due to some problem, the patient needs to be investigated, the cause for the thought block needs to be identified and treating the cause for the thought block will,treat the symptom of it as well. 

 

Indirectly, there is an increase in the incidence of dementia in diabetic patients with uncontrolled sugar levels. 

 

Dr Noor Gill
Dr Noor Gill, MBBS, deciphers the space between heartbeats, figuratively and literally. Powered by frequent long naps and caffeine, she believes that “knowledge without giving back to society is meaningless” and works to make caring cool again.

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