There’s no doubt that there seems to be a lack of understanding about dementia, not only in the United States, but across the entire globe. This lack of awareness leads not only to stigmatization of those with dementia, but also impacts families, caregivers and difficulties regarding diagnosis and proper care.
As of 2015, 47 million Americans had some form of dementia. By the year 2050, that number is expected to rise by as much as 71%. This is why it’s so important to fully understand what a dementia diagnosis really means to you or your loved one.
What is Dementia? A Few Things You May Not Know
- Dementia is not a disease itself. Dementia is the umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms that include memory loss, cognitive decline and changes in behavior. There are some forms of dementia that can be reversed if they are treated properly and early on, while others are progressive with symptoms worsening over time.
- Dementia affects more than just the elderly. First, dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. While it’s true that seniors are generally most affected by dementia, it’s possible for younger people to have it, too. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are around 200,000 people under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s disease is just one form of dementia. It’s not uncommon to use the terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to describe the same symptoms, but in fact, Alzheimer’s is simply one form of dementia. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementias, and less common forms like Parkinson’s disease dementia, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, and dementia from traumatic brain injuries.
- Early diagnosis can improve quality of life. It can be difficult to diagnosis dementia early on due to the fact that symptoms are often mild and go unnoticed. In fact, some studies have estimated that some people had been experiencing symptoms for as long as five years before being diagnosed. If you suspect you or a loved one have begun to display some of the most common warning signs of dementia, it’s vital to visit the doctor as soon as possible for a dementia test. Some medications can be prescribed that can help ease and slow the progression of the symptoms.
- More research on dementia is needed. To better understand dementia, more research and funding is desperately needed. There’s still very little research regarding dementia risk factors, as well as for the development of new, more effective treatments to reduce symptoms or to slow or stop the disease. Diagnostic studies are also needed to help find better ways to accurately diagnose forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages. The Alzheimer’s Association is always looking for more participants to get involved in clinical trials to help find better treatments and possible ways to prevent and cure Alzheimer’s disease.
American Senior Communities offers person-centered dementia care at our Auguste’s Cottage and a variety of assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.