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July 28, 2014

How Stress & Confusion Affects Dementia Patients

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The effects of stress can be very damaging to anyone; however in dementia patients the effects can be profound.

Reactions to stress are different in persons with Alzheimer’s than in folks with different types of dementia such as Frontal Lobe or a vascular dementia though. The latter two entities can cause a more aggressive reaction rather than a more subdued depression as in Alzheimer’s.

Often, traumatic events can appear to hasten the dementing process both short and long term, although this occurs much less often in later stages of the disease. However, it is difficult to assess the level of stress in a person with dementia particularly when a change, such as a family death or a location move, takes place. Therefore it is very important that the patient is monitored so as to be sure that any behavioural change is caused by the dementia and not just the event.

In less extreme cases, which are likely to be encountered on a day to day basis, a patient can become stressed and confused when they cannot remember what task they were meaning to perform. This can cause the patient to become frustrated and/or agitated. Another example of this is if the patient were to forget where they were, which can be very distressing as well.

The exact mechanisms of how stress and confusion affect Dementia are still currently being researched by scientists, but it is understood that stress does exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions such as Dementia, potentially accelerating the condition and so any methods of reducing stress are highly beneficial.

As was mentioned in our last blog article, ‘Why Visual Aids Benefit Dementia Patients’, visual aids help to improve the visual short term memory of dementia patients. However, by increasing the patients’ memory retention they are less likely to become confused or stressed due to the frustration of not being able to complete a task. A product line that we here at Recogneyes have found to be very useful in reducing stress and creating a stress free environment, both at home and in care homes, are our room signs. These are very simple with easy to read text and an image associated with the room, reducing any chance of a Dementia patient becoming disorientated and eliminating the stress that is associated with it.

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