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What is Dementia?

Many of us either have a loved one who has suffered from dementia or we know someone who does. The diagnosis of dementia is an incredibly difficult one to receive for all members of the family. While there is still a lot about dementia that the medical community hasn’t been able to fully explain, research is being done every day to better understand the causes of dementia and find ways to treat it.

What is dementia?

While the term is used often, dementia isn’t a specific disease itself. It’s an umbrella term used to describe a host of cognitive impairment symptoms. Dementia occurs when there is damage to the cells in the brain, impairing the communication from cell to cell. It usually is the result of brain disease, stroke, or injury, although it can be caused by other factors like brain tumors or drug misuse. The impact of this damage leads to memory loss, difficulty carrying out day to day tasks, personality disruptions, and other symptoms.

Types of dementia

There are several forms of dementia, but a few of the most common are described below.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain, and perhaps the most well known form of dementia. It’s important to note that while Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, not all dementia sufferers have Alzheimer’s. With that said, Alzheimer’s does make up 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, making it the most common form by far. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, and treatments to slow or halt the progression of the disease are yet to be successful.

Vascular Dementia is the second most common form of dementia, making up around 10 percent of cases. Vascular dementia occurs when there is a lack of blood flow in the brain, like after a stroke, and brain cells are damaged or killed.

Parkinson’s Disease can also include dementia—upwards of 50 to 80 percent of Parkinson's patients are estimated to be affected. Parkinson’s-related dementia differs from Alzheimer’s in that it usually takes years to develop symptoms after first being diagnosed. Parkinson's disease starts in the area of the brain that affects motor movement, but can and often does move to parts of the brain that cause memory loss.

Lewy Body Dementia occurs when there are deposits in the brain called Lewy bodies. These deposits are also thought to be the cause of memory loss in Parkinson’s patients The two diseases are now thought to be linked, but more research is being performed to confirm this idea.

To learn more about all the types of dementia, read more from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Early symptoms

Catching and diagnosing dementia early can help keep your loved ones out of potentially dangerous situations, so it’s important to keep an eye on their health. Also, the progression of some forms of dementia can also be slowed with early intervention.

If you notice personality changes in your loved ones, if they start having difficulty keeping up with their schedule, or begin to have trouble caring for themselves in the ways they have before, it’s never a bad idea to talk with a doctor. Sometimes symptoms of other medical issues, like medication side effects or vitamin deficiency, can masquerade as dementia as well.

However, not all memory loss is a symptom of a larger problem—some memory loss occurs with normal aging. For example, forgetting an appointment but then remembering about it later in the day is a normal lapse in memory. But if a loved one can’t remember any events and must rely on a family member or other methods to constantly remind them, it might be a sign of a larger problem.

For more details about early symptoms, read the full list from The Alzheimer’s Association.

Care at The Chateau

The Chateau offers excellent, compassionate, and personalized care for our residents with dementia. Our staff is skilled and experienced in caring for our residents with memory problems, and we have round-the-clock care, so you can rest easy knowing your loved one is in good hands.

For more information about care at The Chateau, contact our Admissions Coordinator at (573) 651-8144.

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Memory Care has become a popular buzzword in the retirement and skilled nursing industries with the rise of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. While there is no cure for these diseases, there’s a lot we can do to help people living with these memory conditions  and their families cope with a new reality.


Here are a few steps you can take to ease a loved one’s or your transition to life with Alzheimer’s:


Simplicity is key.

People living with memory diseases  will have trouble following intricate conversations or concepts, which may lead to frustration or embarrassment on both sides of a conversation. Be patient, loving, and remember to focus on one conversation topic at a time.


Routine is important.

Change is disorienting, so as often as possible, stick to a routine and schedule. If a change in the routine is upcoming--like a doctor’s appointment--write it down and make a point to mention it each day leading up at the same time.


Make safety a priority.

A difficult part of transition is the realization that things which used to be second nature may in fact be hazards now--something that was once as easy as remembering to turn off the faucet or stove could become dangerous when forgotten. Pay attention to the small changes in behaviors and abilities and adjust your loved one’s life to reflect their lifestyle.


Avoid anger and arguments.

There will be moments when you feel like you’re talking to a stranger. Stay strong and try to calmly explain yourself in simple terms; remind your loved one who you are and that you are there to help them.


Keep making memories.

Don’t give up hope, especially on the hardest days. Keep listening to music, telling jokes, and sharing moments together.



Our Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing teams at The Chateau are  able to cater to those who need memory care. Because people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s are prone to be disoriented and stressed, studies have shown that communities should be quiet and predictable, without a lot of change or flash--our community works to  keep patients from becoming overwhelmed or stressed. We understand that transition can be difficult on all people involved. Our caring staff is here to guide you through the process.


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