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Young Onset Dementia

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and around 42,325 young people have been diagnosed with this disease. Those who show symptoms of dementia before the age of 65 are classified as having early-onset dementia. However, symptoms can start to show from as young as 30 years old. Both young-onset dementia and dementia are caused by a buildup of proteins in the brain, that results in a lack of a connection between nerve cells, and a severe loss of brain tissue. These plaques limit the production of chemicals in the brain, which inhibit important messages being transmitted. However, there are a wider range of diseases that trigger early-onset dementia in a younger person and they have a higher probability of having a rarer form of the disease.


Familial Alzheimer's Disease

It is thought that between 7-12% of people with young-onset dementia was inherited from a parent. The inherited form is known as Familial Alzheimer's and is incredibly rare; symptoms usually appear in someone in their 30s to 50s. The earlier the start of the disease, the more likely it is to be genetic. Familial Alzheimer's disease is caused by a mutation of PSEN1 gene (presenilin 1) that boosts the production of amino acids. Instead they produce excess proteins that build up in the brain. However, this form of dementia is incredibly rare - according to the Alzheimer's Society it affects over 500 families worldwide and accounts for 1% of dementia.


Types of Young-Onset Dementia

Young-Onset Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia accounts for 15% of those with young-onset dementia, and is the second most common type in people under the age of 65. Vascular dementia is caused when there are issues with the supply of blood to the brain, and has links to diabetes and heart disease. This type of dementia requires complex care. A genetic and rare form of this disease is known as CADASIL (Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy), and is prevalent in those aged 30-50. It is caused by a mutation in the NOTCH3 gene, which produces an excess proteins that build up in the brain. Patient state that there are 400 families worldwide who are affected.

Early-Onset Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia affects 10-15% of young people with the disease, and is caused by damage to the lobes at the front and/or sides of the brain. This form of the disease affects more younger people than old. The most common age of diagnosis is 45-65.

Young-Onset Dementia with Lewy Bodies

5% of people under the age of 65 with dementia have this type of the disease. It is caused by the build-up of tiny protein deposits known as Lewy bodies in the brain. These deposits are linked to Parkinson's disease; one third of people with Parkinson's develop dementia.

Korsakoff's Syndrome

Korsakoff's Syndrome is a form of dementia associated with alcohol abuse. It affects 10% of young people with dementia, and is caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine). This type of dementia has been known to be halted and reversed.

Rarer Forms of Early-Onset Dementia

20-25% of young people with dementia have a rarer form of this disease. These causes are down to degenerative neurological conditions that cause progressive damage to the nervous system (such as Huntington's disease, corticobasal degeneration and CJD). Some rarer types of dementia progress very rapidly over just a few months.


Caring for Someone with Young-Onset Dementia

Due to the age at which early-onset Alzheimer's starts, it can have a devastating impact on the patient's life. Some people may be working, as well as have a magnitude of responsibilities such as a mortgage and family to take care of at the time of diagnosis. Your parents or children may want to shoulder some responsibility of caring for you, but you shouldn’t ever feel like you are a burden to them. Home care is most effective when the right support is used.

It is important to access the support and services that are out there for you, as well as finding treatment that will work for you. There are dedicated age groups out there for younger people with Alzheimer’s and dementia - it is important to remember that you are not alone. 

You may feel that you do not require any home care services or domiciliary care at the early stage of your diagnosis, but as dementia is a progressive disease it is important to discuss the future live-in care or complex care you may need. Should you have any questions about living with dementia, or any care services do not hesitate to get in touch with Sova Healthcare.
Older people holding hands

Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia can severely test the vows you made to one another many moons ago. It is a very difficult and strenuous job that inevitably causes pain and grief for the person you once knew - before dementia came crashing into your lives.

However, whilst loving and caring for someone with dementia can be hard, you will find that it can be incredibly rewarding if you remember a few important things. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day (14th February), here is what you should consider when your partner has dementia:

Dementia does not define who they are.


Being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia is devastating and life-changing both for the patient and for their loved ones, but it is crucial to remember that dementia does not become that person. You knew who they were before their diagnosis, and it is important to hold on to those memories of who they really are.

Dementia is responsible for their mood swings and personality changes.


Dementia is a physical disease that causes a build-up of proteins in the brain. These proteins then form plaques that kill nerve cells and block signals / connections in the brain. This causes significant loss and damage of brain tissue, alongside the production of chemicals because important messages are no longer being delivered.

All of this is responsible for the mood swings and personality changes you see in your partner - it is imperative to remember that it is the disease that is progressing and causing this.

Learn as much as you can about dementia.


Educating yourself about dementia as much as you possibly can means that you will be able to better understand what is happening to your loved one and why. This means that you can rationalise the situation and empathise with your partner, as well as preparing for the future.

Love your partner for who they are now.


Watching the person you've spent your life with change before your very eyes is a devastating experience, but it is essential that you learn to love your partner with dementia (even as you hold on to the memories of what they were like before). Once you have grieved for the loss of the person you loved - and learned to love them anew - accepting the fact that you may not be able to 'reach' the person they once were becomes easier. Former Alzheimer's caregiver Ellen Woodward Potts states, "The key to coming to terms with this loss is to realise that the human being you have known and loved is still there, but their persona has been masked by Alzheimer's."

Expect the unexpected.


It is important to be realistic in your expectations for yourself and your loved one. Make sure the goals you set are realistic, and don't get wound up if they are not met. For example, if an activity your partner used to love now causes a negative response then accept this and try something different. Remember, it is the progression of the disease that is causing their behaviour.

Learn to let things go.


Learning to let things go when your partner suffers from dementia is one of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of the disease, but it is a crucial one. Their mood swings, personality changes and memory loss will be caused by the progression of plaque build-up in their brain, so make sure you are not arguing with them over a forgotten memory or the way they are behaving as it will only upset the pair of you. Be willing to take the high ground and let it go.

Listen to your own limitations.


Those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease may require a range of home care, from specialist domiciliary care to palliative care. This is a huge responsibility for professional caregivers, let alone family members who also act as caregivers. Due to the complex needs and characteristics of dementia, the disease costs the UK over £26 billion per year, and there are currently over 670,000 carers in the UK. There is nothing wrong with asking for help or additional support when you feel overwhelmed.

Make sure you rely on friends and family members if necessary. You're doing everything imaginable - and more - to be there for your partner, and it's important to remember that your support network will be there for you too. Understand your own emotional and physical limitations; it takes a strong person to do all of this alone, but it takes an even stronger person to ask for help when they need it.

Explore methods of communication.


Communication is something that the majority of dementia patients struggle with to one degree or another, but poetry, dance, music, arts and crafts are all good ways to connect with your partner. These methods are especially helpful when your loved one is no longer able to verbally communicate. Remember, a gentle touch on the arm and a kind approach will also show them just how loved they still are.

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK alone, and this number is expected to rise to 1,142,677 by 2025. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but no two people living with dementia are the same. If you would like advice on how to care for a family member with dementia, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Flu Virus

2015 saw the highest increase of deaths in a single year since 2003. There were 529,613 registered fatalities, and 28,189 of those were due to influenza (also known as the flu). 24,201 flu deaths occurred in patients aged 75 and over. The flu is a highly contagious virus, passed through airborne particles and droplets, which then affects the respiratory system. Flu season runs from October to March, and what makes the virus so dangerous is the fact that the flu virus is a variable that changes yearly. No single vaccination can protect you from all the strains. The worst flu epidemic in history took place in 1918, claiming the lives of 40-50 million people, which is over half of the UK’s present-day population.

What’s even more worrying is in 2015 the fatality rate for dementia patients who had received ineffective flu jabs increased. A Medscope study revealed that those with dementia are twice as likely to die from flu. Those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may require live-in care and specialist care services specific to their illness and are more susceptible to certain illnesses, therefore creating a cause for concern. Here are five things to take into consideration for dementia patients during flu season:

1. Their immune systems are weakened


Alzheimer’s disease is caused by plaques of protein (known as amyloid) building up in the brain, resulting in a loss of connection between the nerve cells of the brain which in turn kills the brain cells. The creation of the plaque is triggered by the immune system, and due to the imbalance of chemicals and lack of receptor in the brain, the immune system is cannot effectively work to its full potential. This means that those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are more susceptible to smaller illnesses that a stronger immune system can fight off, as the receptors that help their immune system may be damaged or dead. 

2. They run a higher risk of complications


Due to the weakened immune system of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, they are at higher risk of the flu turning into more severe illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis which can be fatal. The flu can cause further behavioural issues in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and therefore require more complex care to help them overcome their illness. 

3. They're more susceptible if access to care is limited


It is common knowledge that Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients require more specialist care, albeit home care, live in care services or domiciliary care. Something as simple as showering, washing hands and eating a healthy and balanced diet can help prevent the flu, which is why it is so important that they have access to the right care. If patients are not living in specially equipped care homes or sanitised homes that do not have easy-to-clean ergonomic surfaces, they will be more susceptible to viruses. They may forget to treat the early symptoms of the flu and lose track of the medication that should be taken.

4. The flu vaccination is the most effective preventative


As no strand of the flu is ever the same, there is not one single vaccination that can prevent you from getting the flu. Studies have shown that the vaccination is 50-60% more likely to prevent flu however, there is still a chance of contracting the flu. That being said, the flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent contracting the flu, and if it doesn’t interfere with the patient’s medication or put the in a life threatening situation, it should be considered.

5. There are other preventative measures


Although there is no solid way of stopping Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients from contracting the flu, there are ways it can be prevented. Washing your hands, regularly changing your clothes and sanitising and cleaning everything will help to stop germs and bacteria spreading, therefore reducing the risk of flu. 

If you suspect that a loved one of family member is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, or you are looking for home care support for someone with these diseases, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of professionals are always willing to help.

Film and television are increasingly choosing to use dementia and Alzheimer's as plot points, or even to drive entire narratives. It is no secret that dementia has a prevalent place within our society, with 850,000 sufferers in the UK alone; this number is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025

With so many people affected by dementia and Alzheimer's, the coverage of these terminal illnesses is more than welcome, as it raises awareness and gives the public some insight into what those diagnosed go through. However, there are some myths regarding the portrayal of people with dementia that we'd like to dispel.

1. Alzheimer's disease is not a romantic or glamorous illness

Nick Cassavetes' film adaptation of The Notebook (2004) tells the tale of Noah Calhoun reading to his wife Ali. Every day, he reads their love story from a worn-out notebook in a bid to jog her memory, which has been ravaged by Alzheimer's disease. The film has been heralded as one of the most romantic movies ever, thanks to its tale of undying love. However, The Notebook romanticises Alzheimer's within a family, suggesting that everything will work out in the end given nothing more than a simple memory jog. In fact, many people forget that Alzheimer's disease is even involved in the film.

Memory loss is one of many symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease, and this illness has an irrevocable effect of both the patient and their family.

2. Dementia isn't a 'funny' disease

When a comedy show approaches the subject of dementia or Alzheimer's disease, the results can often be compassionless and cruel. This has been seen in many television shows (Pete's mother in Gavin and Stacey, and Abe from The Simpsons). A more recent case is the representation of Cloris Leachman's character 'Maw Maw' from American sitcom Raising Hope. The Fox show has come under fire for being "not funny, but insensitive and cruel". Maw Maw is often the butt of the show's jokes; she rarely has any lucid moments, mistakes her grandson for her late husband, and forgets to put a shirt on.

Raising Hope makes caring for dementia sufferers look simple and fun, when caring for a person with dementia requires patience, understanding and strength. Caring for someone with dementia costs roughly £30,000 annually, but family carers of people with dementia save the UK economy £1 billion annually.

3. There is more to Alzheimer's disease than memory loss

Alzheimer's disease has become synonymous with memory loss, as seen in The Notebook (2004) and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) among others. However, there is so much more to this complex disease. As mentioned earlier, forgetting places, names and memories is one of the many symptoms of Alzheimer's, but the majority of patients relate to a feeling of sheer panic as they cannot find a connection to anything in their surroundings. They do not recognise anything around them, and everything becomes depersonalised.

Dementia requires complex care and shouldn't ever be diminished to just one symptom.

4. Dementia has no gender preference

Until recently, actors who portrayed sufferers of dementia were predominantly female. Still Alice, The Notebook, Grey's Anatomy, The Iron Lady and Iris all show women suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. However, dementia does not have a gender preference; the older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from dementia, and because women tend to live longer than men, there are more female sufferers overall. 61% of dementia patients are female, and 39% are male.

5. Dementia isn't a rapid disease

Still Alice (2014) tells the story of linguistics professor Dr Alice Howland and her poignant battle with early-onset dementia. The film has been recognised as a fairly accurate portrayal of what it is like to have Alzheimer's disease, apart from the fact that Alice's decline happens in under a year. Alzheimer's disease and dementia can take as long as ten years to fully develop; vascular dementia is the quickest form of dementia to develop, but it is incredibly rare in anyone under the age of 65.

If you suspect that a loved one of family member is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, or you are looking for support for someone with these diseases, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of professionals are always willing to help.
Alzheimer's disease is a physical disease that causes a buildup of proteins in the brain, which then forms structures known as 'tangles' or 'plaques', that can cause nerve cells to die, as they block signals and connections in the brain. This can cause a significant loss of brain tissue, as well as limiting the production of chemicals in the brain meaning that important messages are no longer delivered.

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and 520,000 of them have Alzheimer's disease. One of the main symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss, increased confusion and a decline in cognitive functions. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease develops slowly over a number of years, and every patient will experience the illness differently.

Memory loss is a symptoms that can be incredibly distressing for both the patient and their family members, which is why it is important to utilise the support and therapies that are available once a diagnosis has been made. Projects and tasks that help calm patients down, with the goal of making them feel safe and comfortable is imperative, getting specialised home care services also being highly beneficial to help patients deal with their day to day routine. There are also activities that can be used to improve memories should always be taken into consideration. Here are a few tips and tricks to help stimulate memory.


Stay Calm and Be Understanding


Communicating and spending time with someone who has Alzheimer's disease can be incredibly frustrating and distressing for both parties involved. Alzheimer's causes patients to forget certain words, lose their train of thought, understanding what words mean and much more. Memory loss can have a severe effect on someone's ability to communicate, which is why it is important to stay calm, be very considerate and really understanding when talking to someone with Alzheimer's disease.

Finding out that a loved one does not remember who you are can be devastating, but it is important to remember that when your relative or friend is lashing out, it is their disease taking control. It can be very difficult but try not to take it personally and stay positive. Make sure your body language and tone of voice is warm, welcoming so that the person you are talking to feels comfortable and safe. If communication becomes stressful or upsetting for the patient then calmly distract the person with an activity you know they enjoy.

Holding the person's hand whilst you talk to them, and offering gentle touches will also help to calm them - especially when they are struggling with their train of thought and emotions. If it becomes too much for you to handle then take a five minute break and try again. 


Try Brain Training Apps


Brain training games and apps have become a phenomenon in the medical field. Game based applications that require players to stimulate the cognitive and memory functions of the brain are proven to strengthen the player's ability to pay attention and problem solve. 

Brain training games can help to improve patients undertaking everyday tasks, such as going on public transport and cooking meals, giving them their independence back. These brain training activities help sufferers to maintain their cognitive functions, as well as using their memory for exercises.

Free brain training applications such as  Lumosity (for IOS and Android) offers a plethora of brain training and scientific games to help strengthen the brain. The games teach users to problem solve, whilst ignoring distractions and things that are not relevant to the scenario playing out on screen.


Arts and Crafts


Crafting is a fantastic way for those who suffer with Dementia and Alzheimer's to utilise their time and energy, as they are able to use their hands (helping to calm tremors), excercise their brain and regain some independence by doing an activity for themselves.

Arts & Crafts

Certain colours, shapes and activities (such as knitting) may also trigger them to remember events from their past. There have been cases where patients who are despondent start to communicate and become a bit more positive about their current situation. They become active and want to participate in other activities. 

Busy blankets or fidget blankets are also a fantastic way to help sooth relentless fidgeting and pacing. Often, non-drug related fidgeting and restlessness occurs in those with Dementia as they feel that they need to be doing something, and when they feel this way it can result in feelings of agitation. Arts, crafts and busy blankets also help their sensory stimulation, and can have a therapeutic effect.


Make a Personalised Photo Album


A personalised photo album will not only help to stimulate an Alzheimer's patient's memory, it also makes a fantastic gift. Photo albums and scrap books are a brilliant way to review and reminisce of the past, and this is no exception when it comes to patients. However, this activity should be done with great care as looking back on a patient’s past may bring up upsetting memories, therefore resulting in feelings of sadness, anger or fear. 

If you decide to create a personalised photo album or scrapbook, then place the images in chronological order, as this will avoid confusion and make sense to your loved one. Make sure you pick out truly meaningful and happy moments, as this may trigger warm, loving memories. If your loved one gets confused or says the wrong name, avoid trying to correct them as the main aim of this activity is to connect with them.

Sharing your own memories and asking open ended questions such as, "where did you go as a child?" can help to trigger memories and create a positive bond. Although you want the patient to remember their life, making sure that they know that they have congenial company and are safe should always come first.

If you suspect a loved or family member is suffering with Alzheimer's or Dementia, or are looking for support for someone with these diseases do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of professionals are always willing to help.