Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia
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The Regents of the University of California Memory and Aging Centre says behavioural symptoms like moodiness, apathy, changes in personality, antisocial behaviours and language difficulty can be part of the disease. It explains: “Behaviour and personality often change with dementia. People with dementia often act in ways that are very different from their “old self,” and these changes can be hard for family and friends to deal with.”
The organisation says behaviour changes for many reasons, though it is usually because the person is losing neurons in parts of the brain.
It explains: “For example, the frontal lobes are the area of the brain right behind the eyes that controls our ability to focus, pay attention, be motivated and other aspects of personality.
“Therefore, when cells in the frontal lobes of the brain are lost, people are less able to plan and stay focused. They are often less motivated and become more passive.
“The frontal lobes also control our impulses. Someone with frontal lobe deficits may act rudely or insensitively.”
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It also explains the symptoms of dementia often cause a feeling of insecurity. For example, memory loss may lead to worry about forgetting an appointment while visual-spatial problems can make people feel lost or disoriented even when they are in a familiar place.
The Centre website states: “Having less ability to cope with stress, people with dementia often become dependent on their caregiver to help them manage their emotions.
“The caregiver may become the person’s “anchor,” or the person they trust who helps them feel secure.
“The person with dementia might follow or “shadow” the caregiver wherever they go, call the caregiver several times a day on the phone, or ask repeated questions over and over again.”
The Alzheimer’s Society (AS) says: “Sudden changes in behaviour are often caused by a physical health problem such as constipation, pain or urinary tract infection – especially when the person seems to be more agitated, confused or distressed.
“If you notice a sudden change, it’s always a good idea to ask the person’s GP to visit.”
The charity suggests that people be aware of the person’s beliefs and thoughts and try not to argue with them.
“For example, if they believe they need to go and collect their children from school, don’t tell them they’re wrong. Instead ask them to tell you more about their children, or move their focus onto an activity,” it says.
The AS also says changes in the person’s behaviour can be challenging, frustrating and often very upsetting.
“Over time, this can lead to you feeling more exhausted. It can have a big impact on your physical and mental health and general wellbeing.
“That’s why it’s important that you look after yourself – both for your own sake and so you can continue to care for the person with dementia,” it states.
It suggests that you care to talk to someone about the situation and how you are feeling.
“This might be a friend, professional or another carer. Online discussion forums can be a good way of sharing your feelings and getting practical suggestions,” it says.
The NHS says keeping an active social life, regular exercise, and continuing activities the person enjoys, or finding new ones, can help to reduce behaviours that are out of character.
The health body also says dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
Early symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually, it says.
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