Dementia-Did you know?
Persons with Dementia
- Dementia is defined as a severe loss of cognitive abilities that disrupts daily life which is progressive and the symptoms will gradually get worse.
- Symptoms include memory loss; mood changes; visual perception; focus challenges; and problems with communicating, decision making, and reasoning.
- Statistics in 2011 show that 14.9 % of Canadians 65 and older were living with cognitive impairment, including dementia and by 2031 if nothing changes in Canada, it will be 1.4 million people.
- As of 2010 more than 35.6 million people worldwide are living with dementia (more than total Canadian population).
- Each person with dementia will not have the same symptoms, behaviours or communications as other people with the same form of dementia. Each person is individual.
- There are various forms of dementia;
- Alzheimer’s – is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
- Early onset dementia – is dementia beginning before age of 65 (common being Alzheimer’s). About 1 person in every 1,000 under the age of 65 develops dementia.
- Mild Cognitive Impairment– problems with memory, language, thinking or judgement.
- Vascular dementia – caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain, commonly caused by a stroke or a series of small strokes.
- Mixed dementia – type of dementia where a person is diagnosed with both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
- Frontotemporal dementia – Rare when all ages are taken into account, but relatively common in people under 65, it is a physical disease that affects the brain.
- Lewy body dementia – less-common form of dementia, it is caused by irregularities in brain cells, leading to symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Parkinson disease – is a neurodegenerative disease. Most common symptoms affect movement, resulting in tremors, stiffness, difficulty walking, loss of balance and rigid muscles.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease– is a rare form of irreversible dementia that comes on fast. It is caused by infectious proteins called prions (proteins naturally in the brain and are typically harmless).
- Huntington’s disease– is an inherited disease that causes certain nerve cells in the brain to waste away. People are born with the gene, but symptoms usually don’t appear until middle age.
- Wernicke-Korsadoff syndrome– Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disorder caused by the lack of thiamine (vitamin B1). It may result from alcohol abuse, dietary deficiencies, prolonged vomiting, eating disorders, or the effects of chemotherapy.
- Down syndrome – Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects about one in every 800 live births in Canada1. It is the most common genetic cause of severe learning disabilities in children and can cause developmental delays, learning difficulties, health issues and some physical abnormalities.
- Reversible dementias – Some conditions can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms.
- Rarer forms of dementia – rarer conditions that can lead to dementia are Corticobasal degeneration, Normal pressure hydrocephalus, and Posterior cortical atrophy.
- Up to 40 to 50 per cent of people with dementia experience depression at some point which makes dementia’s symptoms worse. For example, depression can cause increased forgetfulness, confusion, and anxiety.
What helps me in the workplace?
- I may not remember what steps to complete a task, for example, “How do I send an email?”
- I may need help with recalling recent events and learning new information and may ask you a few times.
- If there are too many tasks it may be overwhelming
- I may sometimes copy information incorrectly.
- It would be helpful to have written as well as oral instructions avoiding pronouns or other forms of language that rely upon me having to recall information which I just read or heard.
- Provide me with one-to-one training rather than group training.
- I may have mood or personality swings when my routine, environment, or location is changed and may become confused or irritable. Will have difficulty in feeling safe.
- I would benefit in having large, clear buttons with simple graphics and text avoiding abstract or unfamiliar vocabulary.
- Having high contrast in the colours used will help me easily find the information needed.
- Provide clear, step-by-step instructions using simple, clear writing supported with visual images.
- In either spoken or written information, use simple sentences with just one idea per sentence. Avoid long sentences with embedded ideas.
One thing I want people to know:
“If I ask you a question that was just asked, I am only asking because I do not remember. Just kindly remind me of the answer, even if I ask you a few times and don’t laugh at me.”
There is a great little video on how you can treat people with dementia in your community.