Take Action for Dementia
What is Dementia Action Week?
Dementia Action Week was previously known as Dementia Awareness Week. This year, Dementia Action Week is taking place between the 21st and the 27th of May. The main aim of Dementia Action Week is to encourage people to assist in improving the lives of those living with dementia, by helping to create a dementia-friendly UK where those with dementia do not feel excluded from day-to-day activities.
The reason that Dementia Awareness Week was changed to Dementia Action Week is because the Alzheimer’s Society, who organise the event, wanted to recognise that it wasn’t just awareness that those living with dementia needed, it was understanding and assistance. Individuals living with dementia are just as able as any other individual, and as a society, we need to take more action to create the right kind of change in our communities that people living with dementia want and need.
During Dementia Action Week, we are asked to take as much action as we can to make every day life better for those living with dementia. There will be a range of accessible fundraising events; from bake sales to sports events, all across the UK.
Who’s affected by Dementia?
There are currently over 850,000 people in the UK who are affected by dementia. Despite popular belief, dementia does not only affect the elderly. In fact, there are 40,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 who suffer from what is known as “early onset dementia”. There are even documented cases of teenagers living with dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia, itself, is not a specific disease. Dementia is simply a term that we use to describe a group of symptoms associated with the decline in memory or other skills related to thought that are severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60% to 80% of cases of dementia, but there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including a few that are, in fact, reversible (such as thyroid issues and various vitamin deficiencies).
Dementia vs Senility
Dementia does not mean that a person has become senile. Senility and dementia are two completely different medical issues related to a person’s ability to recall memories and their thoughts. The belief that mental decline is a normal part of the aging process is incorrect, and any individual experiencing memory loss or having difficulty recalling memories should seek assistance from their GP as soon as the possibly can.
Many people have memory loss issues, but this does not mean they have Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia. There are many different causes of memory problems; some causes of dementia-like symptoms can be reversed.
The range of Dementia symptoms
While symptoms of dementia usually vary greatly, at least two of these listed core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered a form of dementia: Memory, Communication and language, Ability to focus, Reasoning and judgment, Visual perception.
Many kinds of dementias are progressive, meaning that the symptoms of dementia start out slowly and over time, they gradually get worse. Professional evaluation by a doctor with experience in dementia may help with the detection of a treatable condition. If the symptoms that an individual has do suggest dementia, an early diagnosis of the condition will allow a person to get the maximum benefit possible from all available dementia treatments and provide an opportunity for the individual to volunteer for clinical trials or studies.
The causes of Dementia
Typically, dementia is caused by damage to an individual’s brain cells. This damage interferes the ability that brain cells have to communicate with each other; when brain cells cannot communication, thoughts, behaviour, and feelings can be affected. The brain is responsible for a host of different functions, including memory, judgement, and how we move our bodies. When cells in a particular part of the brain are damaged in any way, that area cannot carry out its function fully.
The different dementias are associated with various types of cell damage in the brain’s regions. In Alzheimer’s disease, high levels of certain proteins make it difficult for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate properly. The area of the brain called the hippocampus is the centre of learning and memory, and the brain cells in this area of the brain are often the first to be damaged. That’s why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Changes in the brain that happen with dementia are permanent and will worsen over time. When the condition is treated, the treatments will address various symptoms of dementia which make it difficult for the individual to live with dementia to the best of their ability. When dementia is addressed, the affected person is able to find the help and support that they need to live their life to the fullest, despite their condition.
Symptoms of dementia include depression, and the medication needed to treat dementia can have side effects. Individuals with dementia may experience negative emotions, as well as an unhealthy diet due to the mental and physical symptoms of the disease and medication.
How can you tell if someone is living with Dementia?
There is no one way to determine whether or not an individual is living with dementia, however, Doctors can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease and several types of dementia based on an individual’s medical history, an examination, a few tests, and by cataloguing the changes in the individual’s day-to-day behaviour. It’s difficult to determine exactly which type of dementia a person has because some of the symptoms overlap between dementias.
How can we help those living with Dementia?
With the right kind of assistance, even individuals with severe memory loss can still live their day-to-day lives as best they can. There are various ways to help lower the risk of some types of dementia, including regular exercise, which research suggests may directly help brain cells by increasing the blood and oxygen flow that gets to the brain. Diet has an affect as well, because it’s not only brain health, but heart health, that is important when preventing dementia.
Dementia Action Week allows us as a society to let as many people as possible know about dementia, while opening up the topic for conversation, and letting people know they’re not alone.
Ashridge Home Care is managed by dementia friends and champions, if you wanted a free dementia information session for any individual or group then please get in touch as we would be delighted to support you or your local community.
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