Caring For Elders With Dementia

Dementia triggers women more than men – Caregivers are also giving up their lives

Dementia is not just the leading cause of majority of the deaths in the US, UK and Australia but this disease is even more likely to end up the lives of the caregivers of people suffering from dementia. The report provided by Alzheimer’s Research UK highlights the massive toll that dementia takes on the women in UK, US and Australia. This degenerative disease has not just become the key cause of death among women but they are also taking away the lives of those who provide care to such patients. Due to this, there are several who suffer from emotional and physical stress, while there are some others who even lose their job while providing care to people with dementia.

Statistics reveal that there is a unique impact of dementia on women and at the same time, it is also seem that women carry the role of taking care of their near and dear ones who are suffering from this neurodegenerative disease. It is rather sad enough to note that later on they end up living with the condition themselves. This has to come to an end.

Dementia among women

  • More than 850,000 people within the UK suffer from dementia and 500,000 of them are women
  • After the age of 65 years, the risk of developing dementia doubles every 2 years
  • Women above the age of 60 years are 2 times more likely to suffer from dementia as much as they’re vulnerable to breast cancer
  • 74% of the people who volunteer for further studies by joining the Join Dementia Research are all women as they look forward to spread the word
  • Women are 3 times more likely to play the role of a caregiver. They prefer caring for people with dementia and they often opt for 24 hour care
  • Women caregivers report that they feel more supported than their male counterparts
  • 18% of the working women caregivers were penalized at their workplaces for some reason
  • 20% of the caregivers who were primarily working women had to quit their job in order to start their job as caregiver
  • Women caregivers are more vulnerable to feeling stressed-out, depressed and isolated. They are also more likely to end up with this disease themselves
  • 40% of the researchers in UK and 38% of them in Australia are women as per reports from UNESCO
  • 44% of Grant Review Board of Alzheimer’s Research US are women and this number has constantly kept doubling since 2-014
  • 58% of applications for career grants to Alzheimer’s Research UK come from women but the number declines during the later part of their career

Are physically fit women much less likely to suffer from dementia?

According to a medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, it was seen that women with high physical fitness even at their middle age were 90% less vulnerable to developing dementia even after reaching their old age as compared to women who are moderately fit. The result of this study was a result of the measurement of cardiovascular fitness based on a workout test among women.

It was seen that when women who are highly fit developed dementia, they incurred the disease at least 11 years later than women who are fit on a moderate level. They might develop at the age of 90 rather than the age of 79. These findings are interesting as it is indeed possible that enhancing the cardiovascular fitness of people during their middle age could delay their vulnerability for dementia. However, this study doesn’t reveal effect and cause between dementia and cardiovascular fitness; it just shows an association or a link. There is much more research that is needed to check if enhanced fitness could have a positive impact on development of dementia.

For this study, 195 women within an average age of 50 were taken on a bicycle test until they were severely exhausted. Soon after, their cardiovascular capacity was measured. 103 watts of peak workload was measured for the women. There were a total of 40 women who could achieve the criteria for high level of fitness, around 93 women occupied with category of ‘medium fitness’ and 60 women were included in the ‘low fitness’ category. There were also some who had to stop their exercise tests in the midway due to chest pain, high blood pressure or other heart issues.

Over the span of next 45 years, these women were tested for dementia 6 times. During this time period, 45% of them developed dementia, 5% of the highly fit ones got the disease as against 30% of the moderately fit women and 31% of low fitness women. Henceforth, it was proved that the highly fit women were 90% less likely to develop this degenerative disease as against the moderately fit women.

Avert dementia – Strategies and lifestyle changes women should adopt

One in 15 people above the age of 65 in the UK will develop this brain disease and though there is no such cure, evidence shows that there are many ways in which you can protect yourself against it. Let’s take a look at the few lifestyle changes that you should follow in order to make sure dementia doesn’t trigger you.

#1: Keep a watch on your weight

If you take into account few of the biggest risk factors that cause dementia, then that is diabetes and obesity during the mid-life which can aggravate the chances of developing dementia at a later stage of life. In fact, there have been links which found increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and the increased risk of suffering from dementia. However, these links can’t be concluded. So, being a responsible woman, if you monitor your cardiovascular health and weight since the time you reach your 40s, this could reduce the possibility of developing the disease called dementia.

#2: Quit smoking

With the large numbers of anti-smoking campaigns that are being started by federal authorities, everyone is pretty aware of the fact that there are long-term impacts of heavy smoking on your brain. Scientists found out that smoking could boost the risk of cognitive decline during old age and there was one study which showed that the people aged between 40 and 50 who smoked more than 2 packs of cigarette doubled their risk of suffering from dementia at the latter half of their lives. So, you need to quit smoking once and for all if you want to stay away from dementia.

#3: Go for cognitive training

People who have more years of university and school education will have a lower risk of dementia and there is enough evidence that there are possibilities of reducing the risk of dementia by trying to do new things as you gradually get older. You may take up new hobbies, learn new languages or other skills and participate on regular intellectual activity like crossword puzzles as they have neuro-protective effects on human brain.

#4: Stay as active as possible

There are several studies which have shown that rigorous physical activity and brisk walking can play a vital role in preserving your faculties in your later life. It is especially vital for the seniors to remain active and there are studies which find that the older people who continued with a regular program of exercise found their cognitive functioning abilities to improve. Nevertheless, the younger generation should avert sports which are related to causing head traumas like football or even boxing. Even traumas which are initially not so serious can lead to few forms of dementia.

#5: Follow the Mediterranean diet

Although the scientists are still not very clear on the way in which vitamins, nutrients and food groups have an impact on aggravating dementia, yet there are many studies which recommend people to follow a Mediterranean diet. If you don’t know what this diet form comprises of, it is small amounts of meat, more focus on fruits, whole grains, fish, vegetables, olive oil and nuts. All these suggest that it is possible to diminish the risk of dementia by preventing blood pressure from rising above the normal level.

#6: Maintain a social life

If you can maintain a socially active life as you grow older like volunteering for local community events or joining clubs, this is seen to have a protective impact against dementia. Studies also reveal that the individuals that have a really big social network during their old age have much better and advanced cognitive functions and reduced risk of decline of their mental abilities.

#7: Maintain normal sleep patterns

Scientists have linked sleep disturbances like insomnia with heightened risk of cognitive decline later on in life. If you take steps to deal with any kind of sleep issues, this could possibly reduce the chances of suffering from dementia. Nevertheless, scientists still don’t know how disturbed sleep patterns could relate to the condition of dementia. But if you suffer from it, make it a point to bring about few lifestyle changes.

Finding in-home care services – What steps to take

As long as in-home care services are concerned, there are wide array of services that are offered at home instead of a hospital or in a care facility. This type of care lets the person with dementia to remain in his own home and this can be of great benefit to the caregivers.

Different kinds of in-home services

All in-home services aren’t the same and while some offer medical help, some others offer help with regular living. Here are some common types of in-home services:

  • Companion services: They help with initiating recreational activities, supervising and visiting the patient
  • Homemaker services: They help with shopping, housekeeping or preparation of meals
  • Personal care services: They help with dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, personal care and for exercising
  • Skilled care services: They help you with injections, wound care, physical care and other medical requirements. A licensed health professional is assigned with this task

Locating the best in-home services

If you wish to find out the perfect in-home care facility, you may begin with these resources. Check them out.

  • Consult with your doctor: The main doctor who is offering care for the person who is suffering from dementia is one of the best places to start. Make sure you ask for the suggestions from the health care providers who have got experience in taking care of people who are suffering from dementia.
  • Use an online tool: When you’re searching for the home health agencies in your area, you can also check with an online tool. Medicare offers an effective online tool called Home Health Compare.
  • Call your local Alzheimer’s association: You may also get in touch with the Alzheimer’s Association in your locality as they are the best place to give you referrals. But for that, you have to find out the local chapter.
  • Community Resource Finder can be used: One more place to search for in-home care services is by utilizing the online Community Resource Finder.
  • Seek recommendations from friends & family: Last, but not the least, you can also get a first-hand opinion from someone who is extremely close to you. If there is anyone else in the family who has already used in-home care services, you can get the contact details from that person.

Questions to ask before hiring them

  • Are you trained in CPR and first-aid?
  • How many years experience do you have with someone suffering from dementia?
  • Do you work for an agency?
  • Are you trained in dementia care?
  • Can you provide us with references?
  • Are you bonded and licensed?
  • Are you available at all times of the day?
  • Can you provide back-up if you fall sick?

So, if you’re someone who has a loved one or your mom who is suffering from dementia, get the best kind of care services for her. You too should try to learn the best tactics to taking care of someone with dementia.