Did you know that nearly 40% of people over 65 experience some form of memory loss? As people age, developing forgetfulness and an inability to receive new information quickly is fairly natural. Still, there is a significant difference between periodically forgetting an acquaintance’s name and having no concept of the current day, month, or even year.

Currently, over 500,000 people in Canada are living with Dementia, and that number is expected to increase to well over 900,000 by the year 2030. It’s a disease that, if left untreated, can become incredibly debilitating and negatively impact a person’s quality of life. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with Dementia, educating yourself on the condition is critical. You’ll need to know what to expect as the Dementia progresses and where to go for help when you need it.

For example, does a loved one have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease? While the conditions are closely related, you may not have known that Alzheimer’s isn’t the same as Dementia.

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

The term “Dementia” refers to the extensive group of symptoms associated with reasoning and problem skills, cognitive functioning, and memory decline. Many people aren’t aware that Dementia isn’t a specific disease. There are several types of Dementia that exist, and many conditions can cause them. One common condition that causes such symptoms is Mixed Dementia, in which brain changes of at least one type of Dementia coincide.

The most common type of Dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60-80% of all Dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease caused by complicated changes in the brain following cell damage, and early signs include reoccurring memory loss to trouble communicating to complete personality and behavioural transformations.

Over time, the symptoms of Dementia worsen, and people with the disease will require professional assistance from healthcare professionals. We’re Integracare, and we provide home nursing care in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to people living with Dementia of all types.

Getting the Support, You Need

As a home nursing and healthcare agency, we’re committed to providing compassionate, high-quality services to Clients right in the comfort of their homes. We’re proud to be partners with the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto, an organization that promotes Dementia and Alzheimer’s research, in addition to providing programming, events, education and information to people living with the disease and their loved ones.

Our collaboration with this essential organization allows us to educate, train and teach our specialized Dementia Caregivers how to work with Clients living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s in a professional, and compassionate manner.

Let’s take a closer look at Dementia and how you can detect the early signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Many Different Types of Dementia

We now know that “Dementia” is an umbrella term to describe the symptoms associated with the loss of cognitive functioning — such as memory, thinking, and problem-solving — to such a severe extent that it disrupts a person’s daily life. There are over 400 types of Dementia existing today, and some are so rare, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), that only one in 1 million people are diagnosed with it each year.

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Here’s a list of more commonly experienced Dementias.

Vascular Dementia

Have you ever heard of Vascular Dementia? After Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia is one of the most common forms of the disease. In this type of Dementia, the symptoms occur when there are problems with blood supply to the brain. Healthy and functioning brain cells require an ongoing supply of blood to deliver nutrients and oxygen. Blood flows to the brain via a network of vessels called the vascular system.

When this system becomes damaged — for example, when the blood vessels become blocked or leak — blood can’t reach the blood cells anymore, and they will die.

The death of brain cells can cause issues with cognitive thinking, reasoning, and memory. When such cognitive issues become severe enough to impact your daily life significantly, this is called Vascular Dementia.

The Symptoms

There are specific symptoms and early signs to watch for in Vascular Dementia. Like Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia’s symptoms can continue to be mild for quite a long time, so it’s crucial to be observant and notice any slight change in how you or a loved one behaves.

Some of the early signs to watch out for include:

  • Aimless wandering and getting lost
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Crying or laughing at inappropriate times
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Trouble planning, concentrating, and following through on things
  • Experiencing delusions or hallucinations
  • Trouble managing finances

Sometimes, strokes can also occur when Vascular Dementia symptoms suddenly worsen or increase. Hence, it’s critical to implement a home Dementia Care plan as soon as a doctor makes the diagnosis.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) accounts for five to ten percent of all Dementia cases. It’s a widespread and under-recognized disease. It’s a progressive type of Dementia that eventually leads to a decline in reasoning, thinking, and the ability to live an independent lifestyle because of abnormal microscopic deposits that damage brain cells.

LBD is similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia in how it takes shape in the brain. Many people with Parkinson’s will eventually develop issues with reasoning and thinking. People with LBD can experience altered movement symptoms, such as rigid muscles, hunched posture, trouble initiating movement, and a staggering walk.

The Symptoms

There are symptoms specific to LBD, including:

  • Well-formed visual delusions and hallucinations
  • Noticeable changes in reasoning and thinking
  • General confusion
  • Slowness and gait imbalance
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Significant memory loss but not as prominent as with Alzheimer’s

Unfortunately, there’s no single test that can quickly determine whether someone has LBD or not. Today, doctors and specialists term the disease as “clinical,” meaning doctors will use their best professional judgment to diagnose a patient based on symptoms and warning signs.

The Differences Between Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Sometimes differentiating between LBD and Alzheimer’s disease can be tough, as people with the conditions can exhibit similar behavioural changes.

The Fundamentals of Caring for Someone Living with Dementia

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Here are a couple of significant discrepancies to keep in mind.

  1. Women are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s, whereas men are at a higher risk of developing LBD.
  2. Neurofibrillary tangles and plaques in the brain cause Alzheimer’s and LBD is attributed to the abnormal build-up of proteins called Lewy Bodies.

Knowing the differences between Dementias is crucial because you’ll need the right kind of support from the most qualified professionals as soon as possible. If you live in Toronto or the GTA, receiving Dementia Care in Toronto is as easy as picking up the phone or emailing us at Integracare for more information.

Our highly qualified Caregivers know how to manage the care for people living with all types of Dementia with love, compassion, and professionalism.

Knowing the Myths and Realities of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

A few myths about Dementia and Alzheimer’s are confusing and can even be dangerous when it comes to treating the conditions.

Read on to discover some popular myths about Alzheimer’s and Dementia and the debunking facts to go along with them.

Myth #1: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are the Same

Dementia is the term to describe symptoms such as memory loss, behavioural changes, and other cognitive functioning. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that affects 60-80% of all Dementia cases.

Dementia isn’t a natural part of ageing and is caused by damaged brain cells, affecting their ability to communicate in the brain. This lack of communication can negatively affect behaviour, thinking, and emotions, and depending on the cause, can create a disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Myth #2: Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are Genetic

While some rarer forms of Dementia have been known to pass down through generations, most Dementia types, including Alzheimer’s, aren’t inherited. However, there are rarer types of the disease that can be more hereditary than others. For example, about 40% of people with Frontotemporal Dementia have a family history of inheriting the disease.

If there is Dementia in your family, talk to your doctor about the disease and how it could impact your life. They’ll be able to discuss your chances of getting the illness and what you can do to slow down the process.

Myth #3: Memory Loss Automatically Means It’s Dementia

Many people worry when their memories begin to slide as they age, and for a good reason. The idea of getting Alzheimer’s or Dementia isn’t a comforting thought. However, it’s critical to remember that not all memory loss is a direct symptom of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

If you’re experiencing memory loss that’s severely impacting your daily life — for example, are you unable to remember your neighbour of 25 years’ first name? Are you regularly losing your car keys and finding them in strange places, like the refrigerator? If so, such signs of memory loss can be symptoms of Alzheimer’s or another type of Dementia, and you should speak with your doctor immediately.

It’s difficult to say what constitutes ordinary memory loss and when it’s okay because you can never really know unless you talk to a professional. The best and most simple piece of advice is if your forgetfulness is causing you or others concern, book an appointment with a doctor.

Myth #4: Dementia and Alzheimer’s Only Occur in Seniors

It’s true — Over 70% of people with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 75, and your chances of developing the disease do increase as you age. However, while most people who develop the disease are Seniors, Young Onset Dementia does exist and can affect people 65 and younger.

Young Onset Dementia is very rare — a much smaller percentage of people under the age of 65 develop the symptoms (memory problems, increased confusion, trouble concentrating, personality changes, sudden depression, and withdrawal). Still, it’s crucial to be mindful of the disease in case you or a loved one starts to exhibit the symptoms.

We Can Help

Whether it’s Alzheimer’s or any other type of Dementia, Integracare Caregivers are trained to provide you with a better quality of life, right in the comfort of home. Our at-home Dementia Care program is designed to bring joy and comfort to Clients living with the disease and their loved ones.

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We offer at-home Dementia Care to Seniors all over the GTA. Our services include everything from Live-In Care to weekly Personal Support visits. We provide:

  • Light Cleaning
  • Cooking and Meal Preparation
  • Toileting
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Wound Care
  • Palliative Care
  • Companionship
  • And so much more

We also offer at-home Massage Therapy from our professional Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs). Many people who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia suffer from tense, rigid muscles and joints and cannot let others know about their discomfort. As the disease progresses, communication becomes extremely challenging since time and place become confusing for Clients, and sometimes people with the disease also lose the ability to speak.

Regular massage therapy from RMTs can help to alleviate such physical pain. The gentle strokes and movements that our RMTs use can soften muscles and joints, creating feelings of relaxation and relief.

A massage is also an excellent tool for managing stress and feelings of loneliness and depression. The pressure points RMTs utilize will stimulate serotonin and dopamine hormones, making people feel happy and calm.

Give us a call anytime to ask about our at-home Dementia Care, Personal Support, and Massage Therapy services.

The most significant difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia to remember is that Alzheimer’s is a specific condition or type of Dementia. Dementia is the umbrella term to describe the symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, caused by brain cell damage.

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