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Dementia is Not a Death Sentence

July 29, 2014
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Do-People-with-ADHD-Qualify-for-the-Disability-Tax-CreditBy year 2031, nearly 1.4 million Canadians will be living with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s dementia. At this rate, by year 2040 dementia will cost the Canadian economy 293 billion dollars.

These facts are sobering but when wrapped in the guise of media speculation, broadcasted repeatedly in news headlines and special reports, these statistics are downright scary.

There is no doubt about it, AD is a frightening topic that needs to be discussed, but is there too much noise surrounding the issue? Are facts being properly represented in the news? Or are media outlets doing nothing more than scaring people?

This article intends to distinguish fact from fiction in regards to Alzheimer’s disease. It is purposed to present the facts by answering these questions: what do people need to know about AD and other dementias? What is the progression of Alzheimer’s? How can a person enjoy life after being diagnosed with an irreversible form of dementia?

Dementia is Not a Death Sentence

The rise of Alzheimer’s can seem like a plague in this era. How people discuss this form of dementia can greatly influence the way people discuss this disease in years to come. Moving forward, it will be important to debunk the stigmas that surround this issue. Until science and medicine develop cures for dementia, the disease is here to stay but may not be as bad as it seems.

Getting diagnosed with dementia is not a death sentence. Some forms can be stalled, while other types of dementia can be reversed. For instance, hydrocephalus is a medical condition caused by liquids in the head causing the brain to swell. While dementia is a side effect of this diagnosis, it can often be reversed when the liquid is drained. More so, some nutritional deficiencies can cause signs of dementia but are often remedied with an increase of vitamin supplements. In addition, depression, substance abuse and brain tumors are other causes of dementia symptoms that can often be treated.

Some Forms of Dementia are Irreversible

Unfortunately, not all forms of dementia can be stopped or treated. While Alzheimer’s is the most prominent irreversible form of dementia, there are other types that need to be considered as well.

Here are three types of dementia that are subject for deeper study:

  • Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) often occurs in people who have had strokes. It is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain.
  • Lewy body dementia is caused by foreign protein clusters that develop in the brain. It is common to see Lewy bodies show up in people who have Parkinson’s.3
  • Tauopathies occur when clumps of a protein known as tau are present in the brain’s nerve cells. This causes cells to die. Related forms of dementia include Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD), which is the result of losing nerve cells and brain shrinkage. Another form of dementia that is sometimes tied to tauopathies includes Frontotemporal disorders (FTD).

This diagnosis considers a variety of brain diseases that hinder the functioning of the frontal and temporal lobes.

Often times, AD is only diagnosed after many other forms of dementia have been considered and ruled out. Alzheimer’s is the gravest form of dementia, as it is responsible for 60 percent of all dementia diagnoses (“2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures”).

As people of the Baby Boomer generation reach 65 years in age and older, the rates of Alzheimer’s are expected to increase. While it is important to learn about the disease and other forms of dementia, it is valuable to understand dementia for what it is and not what media makes it out to be. A neurodevelopmental disease is cause for alarm but attempt to put this fear aside.

Dementia is not a death sentence. It is a reality. Learn what it is and what it is not. This can help guide the future understanding of this disease.

9 Comments. Leave new

Penny Shay Robinson
August 1, 2014 11:19 pm

My mother was a family of 13.. 7 of her sister’s had this most terrible disease. My dear aunt
died just last Thurs. July 24 ,20014. This disease scares me to death. By the time I’m in the time line for this disease the Canadian government will accept suicide as the way out. They will pass the law long before my time, if that’s the case, let it be.

Penny Shay Robinson
August 1, 2014 11:28 pm

My mother has this horrific disease. She is the baby of the family of 13. All of her siblings are with God now. 7of her sister’s died with this disease!!! My dear Aunt died just last Thurs. of just dementia. The cause of not the full blown spectrum[pain killer’sBy the time I reach the age of this disease is coming. By that time the Canadian government will pass the law of suicide. We will just take a pill, and that will be it. If that is so, so be it. P.R

Margaret Radford
August 2, 2014 12:22 am

Recently my husband could not continue to do something he had done for yrs. (Pay the bills) now it has fallen upon me to take over.

kevin krimmer
August 2, 2014 4:40 am

how come I cant remember things of importance

I am a 51 yr o;d male and my Meme (Grandmother) was diagnosed with Dimensia several years ago and over a slow proces (6 yrs) she passed away at the age of 80. Two years ago my aunt (my Meme’s daughter) was noticed to not recognize a grandchild in a picture one day. She was very healthy and only had just turned 60. She died within a year of being diagnosed with Dimensia. Until then I had no idea that people so young could have this disease, even my cousins husband thought she was jokimg when she did not recognize her grandchild in the picture. Please, if you notice any changes or abnormal behaviors in a loved one, make a doctors appt right away. I don’t know if anything could have been done for my Aunt but she is severely missed and I would hope that this message could help save even one family from losing someone to this disease-especially at such a young age.

My sister has Alzheimer dementia and her life has been cut short. She is only 59 and had a good career as a teacher. It is amazing how much of her memory and skills has dissipated. My wife and I are her main caregivers and immediate contacts as she lives in a retirement residence. Other family members have come to ask for us to remove their phone numbers from the call sheet we place by her phone as they are overwhelmed by the number of calls Donna makes to them in a day. I believe there is a large degree of guilt that is attributed having a family member or loved one with AD. We feel helpless in caring for the person as the demise of the illness takes the one we love away completely.

I am not sure I said anything of value here for anyone else, only that venting a bit to someone that might relate is a good peer opportunity.

God Bless

Joe

I have volunteered at a nursing home. My mother-in-law and my own mother are victims of dimensia. My mother-in-law luckily passed away. My mother is wishing to do so. They both experienced homes, that cost a pretty penny but we know they are safe. You must always visit a relative in a home, even if it is painful. In the long term care that I worked in many people want to pack it in. I can’t say as I blame them. Losing one’s memory is a big disappointment and frustrating. My mother is really not there. You have to look at it that way. She does things she wouldn’t do in her normal state. Old people need care. Personally, I am in favor of euthanasia. I’ve seen people cry because they are too healthy to die. They look at me and ask, what do I do now? There is no answer.

Brent Peterson
August 3, 2014 8:12 am

It may not kill the shell housing the sentience but it does kill the personality as in my mother’s case.

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