COVID times have made health care work beyond their means. It has become a perilous time for all healthcare workers to take care of all of their patients, may it be COVID patients or others. Dementia is one such illness that requires regular supervision by a caretaker. However, it may be difficult for doctors and nurses to balance the workload of all of the present patients. Hence, knowledge becomes power and with the basic understanding of the illness, you can detect dementia in the elderly to seek help from a caretaker. Before we go into the symptoms of early onset of dementia, let us understand what the disease in itself constitutes.
Dementia is a chronic illness that causes the progressive and gradual deterioration of mental processes, memory, and brain functions. It is most commonly found to affect elderly citizens. However, dementia is not a natural and inevitable product of aging. There are about 50 million cases of dementia currently globally, and there are 10 million new cases each year. Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease are all types of dementia but the most common of them all is Alzheimer’s. Dementia has effects on the psychology of a person and their social, economical, and physical interactions. A person with dementia becomes progressively more dependant on others for day-to-day functions as the disease takes a toll on their ability to do basic things. Hence, people with dementia must receive the care and medical attention that they need.
Early signs of dementia in an elderly person:
The first step after detecting these symptoms of dementia is to contact a medical specialist or a geriatrician to receive immediate consultation and advice on the procedure of care to be taken. During COVID times, it may be difficult to receive a physical consultation, hence it is best to have a detailed consultation over the phone until a special appointment is made to take the necessary steps and scans for further treatment. Avoid looking through the internet for treatments and only use it as a source of extra valuable information. Google may know a lot but it is not a certified doctor. Once a consultation is done, prepare for the road ahead to caretaking. One of two options that can be taken here, you can either hire a professional caretaker to be present 24/7 around the patient or you can perform the caretaking procedures yourself. If you are hiring an external assistant for a dementia patient, make sure that they have tested negative for the coronavirus and have not been exposed to it recently. It is advisable to have the caretaker stay with the family and keep a constant eye on the patient. In case of any emergencies, they are equipped with accurate knowledge on the steps to be taken or have direct contact with a medical agency, professional, or hospital.
Symptoms of dementia vary from person to person. What one dementia patient may struggle with, another may not find it nearly as difficult to accomplish. Early stages of dementia are only milder symptoms that are not as socially and physically taxing as they may be mentally for the patient. The lack of a cure for the disease only suggests that the illness gets progressively worse over time. However, medical and cognitive treatment is available for early symptoms of dementia. Medications and brain function management strategist may help decrease the rate of mental deterioration. Cognition-enhancing medications such as Cholinesterase inhibitors, Memantine, and other medications like antidepressants in boosting chemical messengers. This temporarily helps in improving memory and cognitive functioning. Some of the more physical therapies available to retard the decline of brain functioning are rehabilitation and occupational therapy.
During the pandemic, it may not be safe to admit an old patient suffering from dementia to a rehabilitation center. The age factor with the added complication of cognitive illness can lead to an accident and even exposure to the virus. This puts the elder at high risk of having to battle physical illness combines with mental complications. Hence, it is a good idea to care for dementia patients at home. The safety of a clean and familiar place can help put dementia patients at ease. No matter how severe the symptoms may be, caretaking aims to keep the patient comfortable and relaxed. Be patient with them as the disease is not any easier being experienced as it is being taken care of.