Foremost, the practice can help build mental resources for dealing with frustrations and anxiety. Activities that encourage mindfulness—appreciating or doing artwork, walking in a garden, listening to music, or simply watching birds in the backyard with a friend—are ones that people with memory loss can approach from a position of strength. Caregivers, who often bear a great deal of daily responsibility, may not feel as though they can make another commitment.
Yet, a robust meditation practice is worth the 10 or 20 minutes a day. After an 8-week meditation course, caregivers in a UCLA study showed decreases in markers of cellular aging an important predictor of overall health and resilience , less distress, and better mood and thinking skills. And for everyone, mindfulness meditation likely holds value for preventing or delaying cognitive decline, as suggested by research showing re-wiring of the brain, improved emotional resilience, and reduced modifiable midlife risk factors for Alzheimer disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
The Science of Meditation by Dr. Kris Rhoads. The MBWC offers Powerful Tools for Caregivers, a free educational series at Harborview Medical Center designed to help caregivers take care of their own selves while they care for a loved one. Over 6 weeks, the group of participants builds new habits in effective communication, making challenging decisions, moving through difficult emotions and conversations, and getting connected to helpful resources.
From being involved in programs like this one, the MBWC team has gathered some helpful resilience-building strategies for caregivers. Be willing to be assertive and ask for help.
Find creative ways to carve out pockets of time to take breaks to enjoy a hobby, eat well, and exercise. Contact mbecker1 uw. Support groups for care partners, family members, or people living with dementia can be powerful ways to connect with others dealing with similar feelings and challenges. But they found little in common with the participants, who were all much older. Now, it offers a welcoming community resource to over 60 people in the Chicago area. Another neurodegenerative disease called frontotemporal degeneration FTD can feature changes in language and emotional behavior and often onsets in middle age.
For people who are caring for a parent or spouse, it can be especially important to find a support group that fits. Support Groups. Support for Care Partners.
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Support for People with FTD. Here in the Puget Sound region, people living with memory loss, their loved ones, and members of the entire community, can find a variety of dementia-friendly programs—from walks at zoos and public botanical gardens , to art classes and museum tours. Under the banner of Momentia, these programs aim to empower people with memory loss and their loved ones to stay active and connected in the community.
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For people living with dementia, and their friends and caregivers, these programs can help build resilience of the brain, mind, and body through fresh air, exercise, creativity, and social time - all antidotes to loneliness, boredom and anxiety. These programs also present interested members of the public with volunteer opportunities, new perspectives, and friends.
Our team at the MBWC proudly displays these posters in our clinic. Momentia Calendar of Events. Subscribe here! This article discusses the potential causes of dementia, the various types, and any available treatments. Some symptoms they may notice themselves, others may only be noticed by caregivers or healthcare workers.
Mild cognitive impairment: characterized by general forgetfulness.
This affects many people as they age but it only progresses to dementia for some. Mild dementia: people with mild dementia will experience cognitive impairments that occasionally impact their daily life. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, personality changes, getting lost, and difficulty in planning and carrying out tasks.
Moderate dementia: daily life becomes more challenging, and the individual may need more help. Symptoms are similar to mild dementia but increased. Individuals may need help getting dressed and combing their hair. They may also show significant changes in personality; for instance, becoming suspicious or agitated for no reason.
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There are also likely to be sleep disturbances. Severe dementia: at this stage, symptoms have worsened considerably. There may be a loss of ability to communicate, and the individual might need full-time care. Simple tasks, such as sitting and holding one's head up become impossible. Bladder control may be lost. Dementias can be caused by brain cell death, and neurodegenerative disease - progressive brain cell death that happens over time - is associated with most dementias.
However it is not known if the dementia causes the brain cell death, or the brain cell death causes the dementia. But, as well as progressive brain cell death, like that seen in Alzheimer's disease, dementia can be caused by a head injury, a stroke , or a brain tumor , among other causes.
Some types of traumatic brain injury - particularly if repetitive, such as those received by sports players - have been linked to certain dementias appearing later in life. Evidence is weak, however, that a single brain injury raises the likelihood of having a degenerative dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. Dementia can also be caused by :. The first step in testing memory performance and cognitive health involves standard questions and tasks. Research has shown that dementia cannot be reliably diagnosed without using the standard tests below, completing them fully, and recording all the answers; however, diagnosis also takes account of other factors.
Today's cognitive dementia tests are widely used and have been verified as a reliable way of indicating dementia. They have changed little since being established in the early s.
The abbreviated mental test score has ten questions , which include:. Designed for doctors, this sort of test may be the first formal assessment of a person's mental ability. The second part of the test probes someone close to the patient and includes six questions to find out whether the patient has:. If the test does suggest memory loss, standard investigations are then recommended, including routine blood tests and a CT brain scan.
Clinical tests will identify, or rule out, treatable causes of memory loss and help to narrow down potential causes, such as Alzheimer's disease. The mini-mental state examination MMSE is a cognitive test which measures:. The MMSE is used to help diagnose dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease and also to rate its severity and whether drug treatment is needed. Management of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease is instead focused on providing care and treating symptoms rather than their underlying cause.
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If dementia symptoms are due to a reversible, non-degenerative cause, however, treatment may be possible to prevent or halt further brain tissue damage. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be reduced by some medications. There are four drugs, called cholinesterase inhibitors, approved for use in the U. A different kind of drug, memantine Namenda , an NMDA receptor antagonist, may also be used, alone or in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor.
Cholinesterase inhibitors can also help with the behavioral elements of Parkinson's disease. This might involve the use of mnemonics and other memory aids such as computerized recall devices.
Certain risk factors are known to be associated with dementia. However, age is the biggest predictor. Other risk factors include:. Article last updated by Tim Newman on Fri 1 December All references are available in the References tab. Can doctors predict patients' abbreviated mental test scores? Age and Ageing.
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Cognitive assessment. Dementia: Hope through research. Dementia: Is this dementia and what does it mean? Dementia overview. Liesi E. Evans, MD. Alzheimer disease in the United States — estimated using the census [Abstract]. Marshal F. Folstein, Susan E. Folstein, Paul R. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Pages — Philip A. Lichtenstein, Jonathan Fellus. Alzheimer's disease clinical and research update for health care practitioners. Journal of Aging Research.