As we age, various disorders can affect how well our brains function. Dementia is one of the most common brain disorders that seniors experience. Certain health conditions can cause dementia. For example, chronic high blood pressure, previous stroke or blood vessel disease can lead to vascular dementia.
Causes of Dementia
Many times, dementia is not the result of just one condition, but several. For instance, the combination of Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, Parkinson’s disease and depression may lead to dementia. Our team of Certified Dementia Practitioners is thoroughly trained to care for a Dementia patient as well as the best techniques to do so.
In the most recent U.S. census (2010), nearly 5 million people aged 65 and older were afflicted with this disease. This condition causes brain cells in the area of the brain that controls memory to die. As this disease branches out into other areas of the brain, emotional, behavioral and intellectual abilities become affected.
This disease usually starts with voluntary movement problems and small, involuntary tremors. If Parkinson’s disease becomes severe, dementia may result.
Diseases Related to Glands
The thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands are responsible for regulating perception, emotions, thought patterns and memory. If these glands are not functioning well, all of these mental processes suffer.
Heart and Lung Diseases
To work properly, the brain needs a lot of oxygen. If the lungs and heart are diseased, supplying the brain with the oxygen it needs can become nearly impossible. This lack of oxygen can affect your loved one’s brain and behavior.
Poor eating habits, forgetting to eat or skipping meals can lead to malnutrition. An inadequate supply of nutrients alters the brain’s ability to function. For instance, malabsorption of vitamin B12 can lead to pernicious anemia. Besides causing dementia, pernicious anemia causes depression and irritability.
On average, the senior population takes more medication than any other age group. A senior’s metabolism moves slower; thus, these medications remain in the bloodstream longer and can rapidly reach toxic levels. Furthermore, seniors who drink alcoholic beverages are at a higher risk for drug interactions causing mood changes and confusion.
Depression can Mimic Dementia
Of the 35 million people suffering with depression in the U.S., approximately 6.5 million of them are 65 years or older. Depression affects appetite, the ability to sleep well, energy and physical wellbeing. Symptoms include slow movement and speech, neglecting personal hygiene, weight loss, social withdrawal and feeling worthless or burdensome.
Although many think that sadness in and of itself leads to depression, many seniors claim that they do not feel sad; instead, they lack motivation, suffer with physical ailments and low energy levels.
Treating Depression may Improve Dementia Symptoms
Depression can cause dementia symptoms. Treating depression may improve an individual’s symptoms of dementia; nevertheless, it is also possible that the depression is one of the early symptoms of vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Causes of Depression in the Senior Population
Once retired, many individuals feel as if they have lost their purpose in life and/or lost their identity. Encourage your friend or loved one to volunteer.
Isolation may occur due to a decrease in mobility, loss of driving privileges or a dwindling circle of friends and family (due to death and/or relocation). Consider a weekly shopping trip to give your friend or loved one something to look forward to.
These may include severe or chronic pain, cognitive decline, disability and a negative body image due to surgical scars or disease. Take the time to listen to how your friend or loved one feels. Offer encouragement by pointing out the special aspects that everyone loves about him or her.
Some seniors have anxiety related to concerns over finances, health problems and dying. Educate yourself on the health problems your friend or loved one is experiencing. Again, take the time to listen and offer support.
At Georgetown Home Care, we have compassionate, experienced staff members who are dedicated to caring for our elderly clients. Because studies indicate that seniors do better when they can continue residing in their own homes, our goal is to keep your loved one living in his or her National Capital Region home for as long as possible. Contact Georgetown Home Care today so we can help you care for the senior you love.