Health and Wellness |

Understanding Dementia

January 20, 2020
photo of an elderly lady smiling into the camera

Forgetfulness, temporary confusion, or having trouble remembering a name or word can be a normal part of life. But when thinking problems or unusual behavior starts to interfere with everyday activities – such as preparing meals, or handling finances – it’s time to seek some help as these could be signs of a condition known as dementia.

Dementia is a collective term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline; symptoms of impairment in memory, communication, and thinking. It is a symptom of several underlying diseases and brain disorders. Dementia refers to the long term and often gradual decrease in a person’s ability to think, remember, and function in regular daily activities. Changes to personality, mood and difficulty using and/or understanding language may also occur.

Dementia most often affects the elderly. Although age is the greatest risk factor for dementia, it isn’t a normal part of ageing. Some people live into their 90s and beyond with no signs of dementia at all.

Dementia is caused by the failure or death of nerve cells in the brain. There are many different forms of Dementia. The most common are Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia.

What are the warning signs of Dementia?

  • Memory loss that affects daily functioning – a sign of this might be asking the same question repeatedly.
  • Increased confusion
  • Reduced concentration
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks – for example, making a drink or cooking a meal.
  • Disorientation to time and place – for example, getting lost on a previously familiar street
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Change in personality, mood or behaviour – sudden and unexplained changes in outlook or disposition. Perhaps becoming irritable, suspicious or fearful.
  • Problems communicating – difficulty with language; forgetting simple words or using the wrong ones.
  • Problems with abstract thinking – for instance, dealing with money.
  • Misplacing things – for example, forgetting the location of everyday items such as keys, or wallets.
  • Loss of initiative – showing less interest in starting something or going somewhere.

Alarming Statistics

  • Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia.
  • As of 2016 Dementia is the leading cause of death in Australian women and third among men.
  • In 2019 it is estimated 450,000 Australians are living with Dementia.
  • By 2028 the number of people living with Dementia is expected to increase to about 590,000 and over 1,000,000 people by 2058
  • In 2019, it is estimated 1.5 million Australians are someway involved in the care of people living with Dementia.

Reducing Risk

Several factors can increase your risk for developing dementia. These include aging, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, and drinking too much alcohol. Risk also increases if close family members have had dementia. Scientific research has indicated that the risk of developing Dementia can be reduced or prolonged by maintaining a healthy lifestyle – looking after the mind, heart and body.

What is Be doing?

Be has recently introduced the Dementia Advocate Program into all of our regions that deliver care. One person from each region was selected to be the Dementia Advocate for their region and participated in a two day workshop in November 2019.

On day one our Dementia Advocates participated in the Dementia Live experience, an interactive experience designed to give users an insight into the barriers people living with Dementia face in everyday life.

On day two, we were lucky enough to have a representative from Dementia Australia deliver two workshops on Montessori for Dementia (Person centred approach) and Supporting Successful Communication for people living with Dementia.

Be’s philosophy on Dementia Care is to provide care to our clients living with Dementia using a person centred approach.

Each region delivering care services will have an expert for clients, staff and volunteers.

All participants are now well equipped to start making a difference in the lives of our clients living with Dementia.

If you or someone you know is living with dementia, Be can help. We provide specialist care for dementia as part of our home care packages. Speak to our friendly team about getting a home care package with Be today.

Share this story