Learn about dementia: seek the diagnosis, then develop a care plan

“Dementia” is a descriptive diagnosis, but by itself is not a specific diagnosis of the cause of the condition. There is some underlying disease process that is causing death of brain cells, and the type of process explains just what is happening to the different parts of the brain and what the trajectory is likely to be. Alzheimer’s dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s dementia and vascular dementia all have unique characteristics. The underlying physiological cause or process is different, and the symptoms are different. Obtaining a correct differential diagnosis early on can be invaluable to you in developing the care plan.

Medical crisis can trigger temporary extreme confusion in the elderly, which can be transient and should not be misinterpreted as the onset of dementia, which is presently irreversible. If you are caring for an elderly person, you have probably seen situations where severe infection (even UTI;s), malnutrition, dehydration, or hypoparathyroidis have produced a degree of confusion and difficulty making simple decisions or remembering things that looks like the patient has dementia, If the patient was otherwise cognitively intact before this illness, assuming that “the patient has dementia and needs a guardian” can really miss the  boat, with serious adverse consequences for the elder as the family heads down the wrong path.

In other cases, a person is steadily declining in their comprehension and their confusion is escalating without there being any concurrent acute medical  crisis.Behaviors may be developing that are strange and  different from how the person used to act.  Dementias can involve the loss of self-inhibiting functions of the brain as well as the loss of memory or loss of ability to sort information. By seeking a thorough cognitive evaluation which takes into account the patient’s personal and family medical history, you can be better prepared to plan for the future. You can learn about behavioral techniques that can protect the person against financial loss or self harm, minimize confrontations or escalations, and make sure that the person can remain safe and contented. Dementias are progressive, but better understanding of the specifics for the case will lead to a more effective care plan.

Call us for legal advice and elder care planning early in the process — careful planning can prevent a crisis… 732-382-6070 

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