Among the silent killers, dementia deserves a special mention because its effects render it easily confused with old-age issues. These effects may actually continue for several years before manifesting themselves into something more prominent.

Decoding Dementia through numbers

Dementia in itself is not a disease, in fact it is a series of symptoms. These may include impairment of cognitive functioning, memory loss, lack of sound judgement in everyday activities or a reduction in thinking capabilities to the point of disrupting daily life. In most cases, people in their 60s succumb to dementia. If they don’t, the chances keep doubling every 5 years after the age of 65. Its awareness in India continues to be deplorable, despite there being close to 10 million reported cases a year by 2020, as discussed in the 19th National conference of Alzheimer’s & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI). This number threatens to become twice as much by 2050.

Old Age vs Dementia 

Although dementia has many types, 50-80% of its cases pertain to Alzheimer’s, making it the most common form of dementia. A patient’s symptoms are usually something characteristic of most ageing people. This is why it’s onset is at times unnoticeable by family members. This further leads the patient to deprivation of timely treatment and adequate support. The only surefire way to deal with it is to get an early diagnosis and provide requisite care. Some of the initial tell-tale signs may include, but are not limited to:

Why home care fares better

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced and may branch out to further changes in personality and behaviour. Therefore, home care becomes the sole way to go about it. It’s so since it’s important to pay attention to even the smallest of a patient’s day-to-day activities. The World Alzheimer’s Report, 2016 which focused on reviewing state of healthcare for dementia around the world, cited, “A high proportion of people with dementia die in hospital. Holistic, palliative, end-of-life care is less available for them, and the end-of-life is too infrequently acknowledged, discussed, and planned for.” This further clarifies how people dealing with dementia need home care more than hospital walls and round-the-clock support.

In the absence of commensurate care at home, the person tends to recoil into a shell or act out. In general, caregivers are trained to handle caring for the elderly. Owing to old age vs dementia differences, it’s imperative for caregivers to gauge behavioural differences to deliver quality home care. The constant need for empathy, the fear of rejection, the feelings of confusion, the thoughts of inadequacy at some point of time plague a dementia patient. Since there are no known cures, the least that can be done is to provide them care in a way that their everyday struggles with life are alleviated to a certain extent.

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