Contributory Factors of Dementia

Dementia is an illness characterized by gradual decline of the brain’s abilities, thus affecting the normal activities of the person. The extreme result of this mental affliction is total memory loss. During the initial stages of dementia, the inability to think clearly and forgetfulness are symptoms that should be taken seriously. This condition affects not just the person who has it but the people around him as well, especially his family.

Dementia was once referred to as senility or normal aging process where the optimal functions of brain decline. However, studies show that dementia is more than senility. It is a debilitating condition that causes severe damage in the brain which results in permanent loss of its functions.

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Contributory factors of Dementia are:

  • Diseases – There are diseases that contribute to the degeneration and death of brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease accounts to 8o% of dementia cases. Diabetes Mellitus is another disease that is associated with dementia.
  • Stroke – It can cause Vascular Dementia. It happens when the brain’s oxygen supply is interrupted abruptly during the stroke and damaged the healthy brain cells.
  • Lewy bodies – They are small, circular protein lumps that are formed inside the brain cells. How they are build up is still unknown but these lumps affect the neurotransmitters chemicals of the brain known as acetylcholine and dopamine. These chemicals play vital roles in the memory, mood, attention and learning abilities of the brain. The abnormal protein formation affects the ability of the brain to do its normal functions affecting physical abilities. The most serious disease that this condition brings is Parkinson’s.
  • Atherosclerosis – It is known as small vessel disease. It is common among people who suffer from Type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure. It is also the disease of most smokers. It develops when blood vessels in the brain become narrow and hard, preventing blood supply to flow normally. When blood vessels harden, fatty deposits are developed, which then causes this condition.

Other contributory factors of Dementia which can be treated immediately are:

  • Thyroid Problems such as lack of thyroid hormones
  • Vitamin deficiencies like lack of essential Vitamin B
  • High Cholesterol – Abnormal or high-level of bad cholesterol (LDL) increases the risk of getting dementia.
  • Homocysteine – It is an amino acid that flows in the blood and is associated with protein build-up. Abundance of this acid can lead to dementia.
  • Psychological disorders – Because of lack of regular activities that stimulate cognitive functioning of the brain. Another factor is social isolation which leads to depression.
  • Genetic factors like age and family genes – As people age, the risk of getting dementia increases. Sometimes, dementia runs in the family because of certain gene mutations bring this condition.
  • Head injury – Sudden impact and severe damage in the brain can cause dementia.
  • Brain tumors – Lumps in the brain can cause partial to total damage to its healthy cells.
  • Long-term alcohol consumption – Drinking a large amount of alcohol regularly can increase the risk of dementia.
  • Smoking – Studies show that smokers are at risk of early mental decline and dementia.
  • Infections like encephalitis and HIV-related infections

Rare cases of dementia like neurodegenerative dementia are caused by corticobasal denegeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, Huntington’s disease and corticol atrophy.

How to be an Effective Caregiver?

Growing old is an inevitable aspect of life. However, many seniors face the struggles of living alone since most of their children have moved out and started their own families. Therefore, most old people face psychological problems because of having been left behind by loved ones. Most also have problems dealing with running errands and other daily physical activities due to their old age.

That is not always the case as many seniors hire the professional service of caregivers to help them out with their day-to-day needs. Caregivers can work part-time or full-time depending on the senior’s needs. Around 40 – 60 million people in the US are considered to be caregivers. Any of the family members, neighbors and paid home care workers can be considered as caregivers. An effective caregiver sees to it that seniors receive proper care such as giving them medicines on time, monitoring their blood pressure and doing other physical work on their behalf.

Providing care and support to seniors can be a rewarding experience as the caregiver and the elder often form a special kind of bond, which is cited by many caregivers as one of the reasons why they stay on the job. This article will discuss some of the ways on how to be an effective caregiver.

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•    Look after yourself
To be an effective caregiver, you need to take good care of yourself first. Being in an unhealthy state will only render you ineffective in carrying out your duties. You need to follow a balanced diet, get enough sleep and do regular exercises. You can lessen the fatigue from work by leading a healthy lifestyle.

•    Get regular breaks
Caregivers usually experience fatigue and burnout when caring for seniors especially those suffering from chronic and debilitating medical conditions. Therefore, you may need to step back from work and relieve some stress. You can take a quick vacation to recover from all the stress and fatigue. You can go to the spa and give yourself the much-needed pampering, or you can go out with your friends on a Friday night. You can also take a hiking trip or just stay at home and watch movies. You can also take up a new hobby or whatever makes you relieve stress.

•    Ask for help if necessary
If you find yourself doing something important, you can ask a friend or any of the family member to take over for you temporarily. You can also get in touch with community resources that deal with providing care for seniors to send someone out to act temporarily as the senior’s caregiver. Some local facilities also provide home health care services. The National Family Caregiver Support Program and other elderly support agencies are also responsible for providing care to the elderly. They can help you out in terms of proper caregiver education and training.

•    Communicate with the elder’s family
There are instances wherein the family members leave all the decision-making to the caregiver’s hands since most of them are leading a hectic life. However, the best approach when providing care to seniors is to communicate with one or more members of the family regarding their expectations and decisions of care. Setting up a regular meeting and getting input from everyone is always the best approach. Getting the family members’ participation can help ease the burden and make things a lot easier.

Final Thoughts
Caregiving is both a rewarding and stressful job. Therefore, you need to know how to become an effective caregiver. The elderly population is expected to triple or quadruple in number in the next three decades. Caregivers need to take pride in what they are doing. Love and compassion are the primary things that are important in this profession.