Living with... Dementia

Living with... Dementia

May 18th 2015 - Posted by

It is estimated that 1 million people will be living with Dementia in the UK by 2025; with figures this year reaching up to 850,000 people, including 45,000 younger people with Dementia (anyone diagnosed with Dementia under the age of 65 is considered a “younger person”). Much against common belief, Dementia is not classed as a disease. “Dementia” is used to describe symptoms such as mood changes, confusion, memory loss and general difficulty with day-to-day tasks – this can also be described as cognitive deterioration.

 

There is currently no cure for Dementia or the causes (Alzheimer’s disease), although treatments to help live a fuller life are available. But what’s it like to live with Dementia? Or to be close to someone who is experiencing Dementia? We want to take this opportunity to find out more about the condition.

What does it feel like to have Dementia? In a recent study, a virtual tour was taken by volunteers. The tour outlined what it was like to be suffering from Dementia. A healthy 24 year old woman described the experience as; “isolating, debilitating and extremely disturbing”. The 2015 film ‘Still Alice’ also describes how the condition feels; “I can see the words hanging in front of me and I can’t reach them and I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I’m going to lose next”.

Still Alice

 

‘Still Alice’ provides us with an insight into life living with Alzheimer’s disease, showing the effects that impacted both the individual and the family surrounding them. A subjective look on Alzheimer’s disease, the experience of Alice’s loved ones is followed closely.

The story follows Alice Hoffman, a linguistics professor, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50. Although the film, based on the novel of the same name, did not focus on Dementia specifically, they do focus on the influence of Alzheimer’s disease which – according to Alzheimer’s Society - is the leading cause of Dementia.

With the introduction of this film into the mainstream culture we live in, the piece raised the awareness that was much needed surrounding the causes, development and lack of cure available for Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The awareness raised not only outlined that; as Julianne Moore suggests, no one dies of Alzheimer’s disease, they have to live with it, but that Alzheimer’s is a disease, rather than a feature of being of an older age.

Aside from popular culture, Dementia has an ever-growing predominance in modern day society. With the number of diagnosis’ higher than previous and no cure in our sights, it’s easy to come to the assumption that there is no living after the symptoms of Dementia start to rear their heads. However, as the Alzheimer’s Society and many other charitable organisations outline, there is life after diagnosis and support is available for all those who need it.

The Wilson Family

Below is the story of the Wilson family. The video highlights the way life can carry on after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, the effect, if any, on family members, and the importance of seeking out help if you feel you might be experiencing symptoms of Dementia, as previously mentioned.

 

The story of the Wilson family shows how a normal life is possible after the diagnosis of Dementia. Derek uses medication to help aid the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and, as he says, “it does help, it puts off the inevitable”.  The use of medication and the effect on the Wilson family creates a much needed, positive view on the development of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

Causes of Dementia

Although Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be the main cause of Dementia, there are also other causes, including but not limited to; mixed Dementia, Vascular Dementia and genetics.

Fact file:

  • Vascular Dementia – describes a period when the bloody supply to the brain is interrupted which results in Brain Damage
  • Mixed Dementia – symptoms from two different causes of Dementia are seen together. In many cases, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (memory loss, confusion, etc.) might co-exist with symptoms of Vascular dementia (Brain Damage due to lack of Blood supply)
  • Genetics – Genes can play a role in the development of Dementia but can often be complicated and patterns of inheritance may vary
  • Other conditions: Hearing loss can attribute to cognitive fatigue, which may, in turn, aid the development of Dementia. Depression and a lack of Vitamin B are also thought to contribute. 

It is, however, important to highlight that Alzheimer’s disease, in particular, is a progressive disease, causing cognitive decline and damage to the brain (which becomes the main cause of Dementia). The rate at which the disease progresses depends on the individual - it can take decades until they are classed to be in the ‘later stages of Dementia’.

At this moment with a lack in a cure, the outcome of Dementia is inevitable. However, the diagnosis of Dementia, or similarly, any of the causes of Dementia, does not mean that a fulfilled life cannot be lived. As an Alzheimer’s sufferer explains; “Instead of doing this in ten years’ time, I’m going to go and do this now”.

Fact file:

  • Dementia is not a disease but is a term to describe the symptoms that Dementia is associated with, including; memory loss, frustration and difficulty with day to day tasks
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of Dementia
  • There are treatments available to help minimise the Dementia symptoms but there is no current cure
  • Anyone under the age of 65 who develops symptoms can be diagnosed as having early onset Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.

If you’re worried about Dementia, the affect it might be having on you or your family, it’s important to talk to someone about it. Support is there for anyone who needs it.

When discussing dementia and its possible causes, Hearing Loss comes into play. As previously mentioned, hearing loss can attribute to cognitive fatigue, which can cause deterioration and an increased risk of developing Dementia and many other conditions. Getting your hearing loss treated as soon as possible once you notice that you are may be experiencing a loss is the first step in ensuring you are looking after your general health. At Hidden Hearing, we provide free hearing tests for everyone; you can find your local Hearing Centre or book an appointment online today. Our qualified Hearing Aid Dispensers are here to help you.

“So live in the moment I tell myself, it’s really all I can do. Live in the moment” – Alice Hoffman, ‘Still Alice’

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