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>> NARRATOR: Welcome to the Dementia Caregivers Podcast Series. In this podcast, Lan Trinh,
with the Alzheimer's Association, will cover the basics of dementia. First, what is dementia?
>> LAN: Well, dementia is not a specific disease. It's actually a term to describe a group of
symptoms associated with a decline in memory and other thinking abilities.
>> NARRATOR: How is dementia different from what happens during the typical aging process?
>> LAN: As we age we make occasional mistakes. We forget words here and there. We may forget
where we put our keys, where we put our glasses...But when we're talking about dementia what's not
typical is waking up and not knowing what day it is and to continue to not know.
>> NARRATOR: How does Alzheimer's disease differ from dementia?
>> LAN: It's an actual disease of the brain that causes problems with thinking, memory,
and behavior. And Alzheimer's disease is not a typical part of aging. It is actually very
progressive and is fatal.
>> NARRATOR: What are the different types of dementia?
>> LAN: So, Alzheimer's [disease] is the most common form of dementia that accounts for
60 to 80 percent of the dementia cases. And the second most common form of dementia is
what we call vascular dementia, and vascular dementia occurs when, after a stroke, parts
of the brain are not functioning normally and it causes problems to movement, judgment,
speech, communication - all the other parts of the brain's functions. So another type
of dementia is frontotemporal. And that occurs in the frontotemporal lobe of the brain that
causes shrinkage of the brain, and it causes the person to, you know, change their personality,
change their mood, their movement, their walking, balancing ability. And there's Lewybody . Lewy
body dementia occurs or impacts or affects the person's ability to think, to plan, and
to reason. Another symptom of Lewy body dementia is visual hallucination or rigidity.
>> NARRATOR: What causes dementia and Alzheimer's disease?
>> LAN: Most experts believe that Alzheimer’s disease is a result of multiple factors, including
genetics, socioeconomic factors, the person's social environment and the physical environment,
as well as other health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Those
really increase their risk. But we know that dementia is caused by damage to brain cells.
And when brain cells are unable to communicate with each other, problems with thinking, feelings,
or behavior can occur.
>> NARRATOR: What is the typical progression of Alzheimer's disease?
>> LAN: The course of the disease depends, in part, on age at diagnosis, and whether
or not that person has other health conditions.
>> NARRATOR: What challenges do caregivers face when caring for someone with dementia?
>> LAN: In the early stage, someone with Alzheimer’s disease can live very independently, and they
can drive. They can go to work. They can still be part of a social life. For that stage people
who are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease are there, pretty much, to support,
and to be a companion, and to help plan for the future. The stages change in the middle
by the damage that's done to the brain. It makes it difficult for the person with the
disease to express thoughts or to perform daily routines. So the caregiver really has
to step up and, you know, be able to understand that process. People in the late stage of
Alzheimer’s disease, you know, they have difficulty swallowing and eating, they may
need assistance with walking, they may need full-time help with personal care. All that
personal care is now taken care of by the caregiver. And then at the late stage, communication
is verbally—is really just diminished.
>> NARRATOR: What are some strategies for providing care for people living with dementia?
>> LAN: So, you know, be kind to those with the disease, be very patient, avoid confrontation,
reassure them a lot of times, and ask them, you know, "Is this what you mean?" And even
if you don't understand what they mean.
>> NARRATOR: What resources do you recommend to caregivers of people living with dementia?
>> LAN: Well, we have a lot of resources at the Alzheimer's Association, and we provide
programs and resources to families and individuals affected by the disease. So we have free caregiver
training. It's a six-week training course. And we have community workshops that are available
throughout the county of L.A. We also have support groups. We have social workers at
the office that can work with the family caregivers on a one-on-one basis to help them, kind of,
adjust to their new role. So we, you know, encourage caregivers to really take a step
back, have a different outlook about caregiving, rather than, you know, trying to fix the problem,
but just, kind of, go with the flow.
>> NARRATOR: We hope this podcast gave you some insight into the basics of dementia and
Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, if you have ideas for podcast topics please email
us at NursingHomes@hsag.com. Thank you, and stay tuned for upcoming podcasts about different
topics that we hope will be relevant to you as a caregiver for someone living with dementia.