Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Research Shows Factors May Impact Years Earlier | News

Something is causing hallucinations in an older man. He has a moderate to severe form of dementia.

His family are looking after him at home and cannot solve the mystery.

Enter Lizette Cloete, Dementia Educator and Home Health Services Occupational Therapist at Self Regional Healthcare.

“I told the family that if they wanted to do just one thing that day to change the man’s ability to function, I would replace the ceiling fan above where the man slept. “said Cloete. “That ceiling fan was making a terrible noise, but no one else in the house noticed it because they were used to it.”

Part of what happens with dementia, Cloete said, is that you lose your ability to filter out background noises such as fan noise or the television being turned on for hours a day.

“People are afraid of losing their physical abilities, but they are even more afraid of losing their thinking skills,” Cloete said. “The man had lost his ability to communicate that the noise was bothering him, 24 hours a day, but he tried to stand up, move around and walk away from the noise.”

For many people with some form of dementia, brain changes occur that make them unable to recognize that something is wrong with their cognitive abilities, Cloete said.

“It’s a real medical condition and it can occur with dementia, brain damage, and stroke,” Cloete said.

With nearly 30 years of experience as an occupational therapist, Cloete emphasizes working with patients with dementia.

“Most of my clients are seen in their own home environment,” Cloete said. “Experts hypothesize that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia begin 10 to 20 years before symptoms appear.”

Every 65 seconds in the United States, one person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and one in three seniors dies from a form of dementia, Cloete noted.

South Carolina ranks seventh in the United States for the incidence of dementia, she said.

“These are scary numbers,” Cloete said. “South Carolina has a higher incidence of stroke. We’re also in the part of the country where the incidence of type 2 diabetes and hypertension is higher.… Research says that. there are up to 36 contributing factors to dementia. ”

Making lifestyle changes is key to reducing risk factors, Cloete said.

“All of us, even those without underlying conditions, should be doing things to keep our brains active,” she said. “A lot of research shows that diet, exercise, sleep and stress play an important role in our cognitive health. I can exercise control over my diet, exercise, sleep patterns and stress levels. This is where the focus and education needs to be. “

The progression of cognitive impairment goes through stages, said Cloete, noting at the earliest – the subjective stage of cognitive impairment – perhaps only you can discern that you are not thinking clearly.

This is not easily noticed by people around you, and it might not show up if you took a test to gauge how well you remember information or understand something being said to you.

Once you reach the stage known as mild cognitive impairment, it’s potentially diagnosable through testing, Cloete said, reporting problems with memory, language, thinking, or judgment.

“If you’re still in the workforce with mild cognitive impairment, this is when others start to notice it, because you miss appointments or finish a task,” said Cloete. “Mild cognitive impairment is a pre-dementia stage. “

“With mild cognitive impairment, you can still learn,” she said. “This is when brain games and structured activities can be important.”

If you’re a language-based person, go for math-focused games or puzzles that work another part of your brain.

After mild cognitive impairment there are stages of mild, moderate and severe dementia.

“But, even at these stages, it’s important to involve people in what they are still able to do, but it may sound different,” Cloete said. “I work with families and with people who deal with these kinds of cognitive impairments.… It’s very person-specific. Engage them in a little task that they’ve always done, like folding laundry or remembering . Use photo books. “

In the moderate to severe cognitive impairment stage, Cloete said you can navigate your own home, but you might forget to eat or stay hydrated throughout the day. Family members as caregivers must step in and help.

“It’s important to determine what a person’s level of impairment is, what their daily routines are and what the caregiver’s frustrations are,” said Cloette, noting that her background and assessment tools can help. create a home care delivery plan if appropriate.

Lizette Cloete is an occupational therapist, registered and licensed. Cloete’s credentials also include a Certified Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Trainer, Certified Dementia Practitioner, and Skills2Care certification. She graduated as an Occupational Therapist in 1992 in South Africa. Cloete recently obtained certification to teach the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Seminar, a course required to become a certified dementia practitioner. Cloete also has a podcast called “The Baffled Brain: Demystifying Dementia”.

Contact Sainte-Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518.

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