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The Health Centre

Alzheimer's Disease

 

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia in people aged over 65.  The second most common form is Vascular Dementia.  Dementia is a broad term used to describe problems with memory and thinking.  Help and support are available for people with dementia and their families and carers.

 

Dementia is not a normal part of ageing and is different to normal forgetfulness.  It is irreversible and for most people the symptoms gradually get worse over time.  Although Alzheimer's Disease is more common after 65 years of age, it can begin earlier.

 

Signs and symptoms

 

Although there are common patterns in how dementia develops and affects a person's abilities, different symptoms can appear at different stages for different people.

 

The effects of dementia are gradual and generally include:

  • problems with memory and thinking

  • changes in personality and mood

  • communication problems

  • difficulties with everyday tasks

A person with early dementia may:

  • forget about recent conversations or events

  • repeat themselves, making mistakes in speech or lose the thread of their conversation

  • find it more difficult to make decisions

  • be unwilling to try new things or less able to adapt to change

  • experience difficulty in handling money, following directions and carrying out everyday chores

  • develop a change in mood or personality

These symptoms are often hard to notice or may be put down in old age or overwork.

 

A person with moderate dementia needs increasing help to manage day-to-day living.  At this stage, the person may:

  • Have difficulty recognising close friends and family, or confuse one person for another

  • Begin to wander or become lost if away from familiar surroundings

  • Be unable to carry out basic tasks, such as bathing, dressing and eating, without guidance or assistance

  • Be confused regarding time and place

  • Demonstrate poor judgment when making decisions

  • Behave in a way that may embarrass others

  • See or hear things that are not there

  • Become restless, agitated, angry or distressed

  • Misplace items and accuse others of 'stealing' their belongings.

A person with advanced dementia needs extensive support in their day-to-day living.  Some people are able to receive that support at home, while others need accommodation in a hostel or nursing home.

For more information contact Alzheimer's Australia - phone the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 (freecall) or visit www.alzheimers.org.au

 

Source: Alzheimer's Australia

 
 
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