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Dementia | What You Should Know DR CHRIS ADVISES:


If one of your loved ones is suffering from dementia, here are some simple changes you can make to help them stay independent for longer: 1. Have a daily newspaper delivered as a reminder of the date 2. Install safety devices such as gas detectors and smoke alarms 3. Keep keys and other important items in an obvious place 4. Label cupboards and drawers 5. List helpful numbers by the telephone 6. Make a weekly timetable 7. Put bills on direct debit 8. Write down things to remember 9. Write reminders on post-it notes around the house


Alzheimer’s Focus As the most widespread cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s is probably the most frequently discussed form of dementia—and the most dreaded. Although the exact cause of the disease is unknown, age, family history of the condition, unhealthy lifestyle and severe head injuries are all known to increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s.


A person with Alzheimer’s will usually


live for around eight to 10 years after fi rst developing symptoms, although this can vary considerably depending on the case. Although Alzheimer’s is rarely a direct cause of death, it is often a contributing factor because sufferers may be unable to recognise that they are unwell or experience diffi culties communicating the treatment they need. There are a number of measures that you can take to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in the future. Stopping smoking, reducing your alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can all lower your risk of developing the condition.


In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a


patient may be offered medications known as AChE inhibitors, which can temporarily improve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Psychological treatments, including cognitive stimulation and cognitive behavioural therapy, may also be offered to improve memory and language ability—as a measure to reduce the personality changes often associated with Alzheimer’s. 


Did you know? The NHS estimates


that 800,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, and that one in three people over age 65 will develop the condition.


126 DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR CHRIS STEELE


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