May is the month dedicated to mental health awareness. With that in mind, we would like to focus our attention on this scary illness: Dementia. With over 47 million people worldwide currently living with Dementia, there are still some misconceptions about the condition, symptoms and prognosis. We’ve put together a list of some of the most important things you need to know about Dementia.
What Is Dementia?
What’s confusing about dementia is that it’s not actually a disease but a collection of symptoms that can be caused by various diseases. While the leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia can also be caused by brain damage incurred from an injury or stroke and from other diseases like Huntington’s.
Signs and symptoms of dementia can vary but typically include memory loss, problems with communicating, problems focusing, impairments in judgment and struggles with completing tasks. These changes may occur quickly or very slowly over time.
Women Have A Higher Risk
Women are diagnosed with various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, at greater rates than men. One theory on why is that lowered quantities of estrogen in women past their menopause may be a risk factor helping to develop the disease.
Experts say the number one thing you can do to reduce your risk of getting dementia is to be physically active. A recent study shows that it is also hugely beneficial to keep yourself socially and mentally active, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, avoid drinking too much and have regular check-ups.
How To Cope
If your loved one is still in the early stages of dementia, he or she may not yet require much care. The best thing you can do at this stage is to learn about their disease and what you can expect as the dementia progresses. It’s also a good idea for you, your relative, and your family to have a plan for the future while your loved one can still participate in the discussions.