Many older adults experience concerns about their memory and other cognitive abilities as they age. While some forgetfulness is a normal part of the aging process, reducing the risk of dementia by managing common risk factors can improve cognitive health and overall quality of life.
Is It Just Forgetfulness or Something More Serious?
As we age, mild forgetfulness is natural and expected. It’s common to take longer to learn new things or occasionally forget routine tasks like taking out the trash. However, distinguishing between normal forgetfulness and more concerning memory issues is crucial. Serious memory problems, which hinder daily activities like driving, using the phone, or finding the way home, may require medical attention for proper evaluation and diagnosis.
Often with cognitive issues, older adults worry about conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Cognitive problems can often be attributed to general health concerns, such as physical health or lifestyle behaviors¹, but it’s important for people to consult with a healthcare provider to determine whether these are normal age-related changes or require further investigation.
Are Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Preventable?
While there is no effective treatment or proven method for preventing dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)², the eight common risk factors are: hypertension, diabetes, lack of physical exercise, obesity, depression, smoking, hearing loss, and binge drinking. The prevalence of these risk factors has been found to increase the likelihood of Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD). SCD is the experience of worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss, and has been shown to be an early indicator of Alzheimer disease and related dementias.
Managing Chronic Conditions to Reduce the Risk of Dementia
In a recent study², it was discovered that 49.9% of individuals with hypertension and 18.6% of those with diabetes reported symptoms of SCD. By effectively managing and controlling chronic conditions, like hypertension and diabetes, people may be able to reduce their risk of developing dementia.
To manage their condition and encourage a patient to proactively engage in their care, a provider may recommend:
- Adopting a personalized care plan that addresses physical, emotional, and social needs
- Enrolling in a Chronic Care Management Program to supplement care between office visits
Chronic Care Management for Patients with Dementia
Early detection and personalized care plans are vital for effective chronic care management. However, studies³ have shown that people living with dementia often require a specialized approach due to the progressive nature of the disease and its impact on cognitive function. Over time, people with dementia lose the capacity to engage with their care and increasingly rely on caregivers to help manage their condition.
For caregivers, providing care for someone with dementia, especially a loved one, can be physically, emotionally, and financially challenging. 40% of care partners develop depression and 30% report feeling completely overwhelmed. The demands of daily care, shifting family dynamics, and making informed healthcare decisions can be complicated and challenging.
Care Coordination services can be instrumental in helping caregivers navigate the complex landscape of Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Care Coordinators:
- Assist caregivers in managing a patient’s condition by helping them understand care plan goals and working through obstacles to achieve them.
- Proactively communicate with provider teams to keep them informed about a patient’s health status between visits.
- Connect caregivers and families to community organizations and educational programs tailored to their needs, assisting in accessing available resources and providing emotional support.
- Help address day-to-day healthcare needs, including medications, referrals, equipment, and more.
The involvement of Care Coordinators in dementia care significantly enhances support, communication, and management for families and caregivers, ultimately improving the overall well-being of patients.
Empowering Patients and Caregivers with TimeDoc Health
Chronic conditions may have a worsening effect on memory and forgetfulness, but understanding and managing these conditions may help lower the risk of developing Alzheimer disease and related dementias. Care Coordinators can provide valuable information and support to patients and their families, facilitating access to necessary resources while optimizing their cognitive well-being.
Request a demo to learn more about TimeDoc Health’s Care Coordination Services.