Module Two

Let’s talk about a type of dementia called vascular dementia. This happens when the blood flow to the brain gets blocked. The brain needs a steady flow of blood to work right, just like a car needs oil; if it doesn’t get it, parts of the brain can get damaged.

Here’s what we might see in someone with vascular dementia:

They can get confused a lot, more than just the usual mix-ups like forgetting what day it is.

Paying attention and focusing on something can be hard for them. It’s like their thoughts are a TV with someone else holding the remote, constantly changing the channels.

Organizing thoughts or figuring out how to do things step by step can be tough. They might know what they want to do but can’t quite plan out how to do it.

Making decisions is a big challenge. They may struggle to choose what to wear or what to eat, even if they used to make much bigger decisions easily before.

Memory problems are also part of it. They might forget recent conversations or appointments.

They might seem restless or get upset easily; things that didn’t bother them before might now make them uncomfortable or angry.

Walking can be unsteady. They may shuffle or feel like they might fall, so they need a steadying hand.

Going to the bathroom can become urgent or hard to control, which can be embarrassing for them and needs to be handled with care and understanding.

Feeling down or depressed is common. It’s hard for them when they can’t do the things they used to, and it can make them feel pretty low.

As caregivers, we need to be patient and supportive. We’ll help them stay as independent as they can, but we’ll also be there to lend a hand when they need it. We’re there to guide them through their day with kindness and help them keep their dignity.

Now let’s turn our attention to another kind of dementia called Lewy Body Dementia, or LBD for short. This type is a bit tricky because it’s caused by unusual protein deposits in the brain’s nerve cells. These deposits affect how the brain works and can change a lot of things for the person living with it.

One of the tricky things about LBD is that it’s not the same for everyone. In fact, some people might not show any signs early on. And for those who do, the symptoms can be a bit like a roller coaster—they can change a lot, from one moment to the next, or from one day to another.

Here are some things that might happen with LBD:

Some people might have symptoms that look like Parkinson’s disease, which can make moving around tough.

They might also have problems with their memory, especially remembering recent events or conversations.

Daytime sleepiness is common, but then they might find it hard to sleep at night.

One of the most startling symptoms is visual hallucinations. They might see things that aren’t there, which can be confusing and sometimes scary.

As people who provide care, our job is to stay flexible and patient. We need to be ready for the good days and the not-so-good ones. We’ll help them feel safe, especially if they’re seeing things that aren’t real, and we’ll be there to guide them gently back to reality. And when it comes to their sleeping patterns, we’ll find ways to help them rest better.

With LBD, every day might be a little different. Our support and care will be tailored to what they need at that moment, always with kindness and understanding.

Let’s explore Frontotemporal Dementia, often abbreviated as FTD. Unlike Alzheimer’s, FTD usually starts at a younger age and involves the progressive loss of brain cells in specific areas of the brain.

Here’s what we typically see with FTD:

Changes in how a person acts are common. Someone might become really quiet and withdrawn or the opposite, losing their social filter and acting out in ways they normally wouldn’t. They might also stop caring as much about cleaning themselves or dressing nicely.

These changes can start off really small, so small that you might think they’re just feeling down or depressed.

Speaking can become hard. They might not say much at all, or they might struggle to find the right words when they’re talking.

Keeping a train of thought on the tracks can be difficult. They might start talking about one thing and then get lost along the way.

They might also do the same thing over and over again, like clapping hands or tapping feet.

For us, as caregivers, knowing about these symptoms helps us to understand and help better. We can be patient when they’re searching for words, offer comfort if they seem down, and gently redirect them if they’re repeating actions. And we always want to respect their dignity, giving them the space to be themselves while ensuring they’re safe and cared for.

Next, we’re going to talk about a rare and fast-moving type of dementia called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, sometimes related to what’s known as Mad Cow Disease.

Here’s what we might see in someone with this condition:

They may feel really down or show signs of depression.

It’s common for them to have sudden mood changes. One minute they might be calm, and the next they could be really upset or just not care about things they used to.

Confusion and memory problems can get a lot worse quickly. They might be disoriented, have trouble making decisions, or find it hard to plan things out.

Walking can become a challenge. They might be unsteady on their feet or have trouble coordinating their movements.

Their muscles may be stiff or have twitches, and they could have movements they can’t control, almost like jerky dance moves they didn’t intend to make.

Speaking and swallowing can become difficult tasks for them.

With Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, things can change fast, and as caregivers, we need to be ready to adapt our care to meet these rapid changes. Our job is to offer comfort, maintain their dignity, and provide the support they need to manage these symptoms as smoothly as possible.

Parkinson’s disease is often known for its physical symptoms, like shaking and stiffness, but it can also lead to dementia.

When Parkinson’s is linked with dementia, these are some of the signs we might notice:

People may start having trouble with their memory. They might forget details of recent conversations or find it hard to pay attention and make decisions.

They might find it tricky to understand what they see around them. For example, judging distances could be tough, which is important to consider when they’re moving around.

Their speech might not be as clear as before. It can start to sound a bit muffled or soft, making it harder to understand what they’re saying.

Some might start seeing things that aren’t there — these are called visual hallucinations. Or they might strongly believe things that aren’t true, known as delusions, and sometimes these can make them feel paranoid.

Feeling down or depressed is also a part of this. They might also get easily upset or worried.

Sleep can be all over the place. They might feel super sleepy during the day but then have a hard time at night, especially with a sleep problem where they act out dreams.

As caregivers, we’ll be there to help them through these changes. We can give reminders and cues to help with memory and concentration, speak slowly and clearly to make communication easier, and create a safe space for them if they’re experiencing hallucinations or delusions.

We’ll also be on the lookout for any signs of depression or anxiety and find ways to soothe sleep disturbances.