Whatever form of dementia you are living with, it can present challenges in your everyday life and can often mean that you require 24/7 care and support from a carer who understands the condition.
The most common types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and alcohol related brain damage. Although dementia most commonly affects older people, young-onset dementia can also occur and can present different challenges such as how to continue to work whilst living with the condition.
If you are living with Alzheimer’s disease you may experience symptoms such as problems with memory, losing items or difficulties planning ahead. As the disease progresses, confusion may increase and you might need someone around to ensure you are orientated to time and place. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, having a live-in carer can enable you to retain as much independence as possible and enjoy the best quality of life you can.
Vascular dementia occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced, causing difficulties with memory, thinking or reasoning. Sometimes this can happen following a stroke, but may be due to a blood vessel becoming blocked by a clot. You may become aware of increased difficulties with problem solving or decision making, or notice that your speed of thought has slowed down. Other common symptoms can include depression and increased confusion as the condition continues. Although vascular dementia cannot be cured, the right support can enable you to live better and continue to enjoy your favourite activities.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is less common and is named after the doctor who identified the small deposits of protein known as Lewy bodies that appear in nerve cells in the brain. In addition to causing DLB, they can also be responsible for the development of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms can initially be similar to those of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, but problems with alertness and attention are also common. If you have DLB you may also find that judging distances is difficult and some people experience visual or auditory hallucinations that can be distressing because they seem so real. Like other forms of dementia, DLB is progressive and movement problems similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease can occur in the later stages. This can make falls more likely and are a good indication that you need support 24/7.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is also known as frontal lobe dementia or Pick’s disease. It is relatively uncommon and happens when nerve cells in the temporal or frontal lobes die and chemical messages can no longer get through. This type of dementia can affect younger people and there may be personality changes and changes in a person’s behaviour. They may become less inhibited or act in inappropriate ways. Language problems can also occur with FTD.
Whatever form of dementia you may be living with, knowing that the disease can be progressive can be very worrying. Planning your care for the future is very important while you can still make the best decisions, so diagnosis is the time to consider live in care.