We all experience forgetfulness or difficulty finding the right word from time to time. But when these lapses interfere with daily activities, it could be the early stages of dementia.
At Henry Ford Health, we understand the worry and fear that comes with a dementia diagnosis. Our comprehensive dementia care offers hope for you and your family. You benefit from our team approach, which helps us deliver personalized treatments for all types of dementia and family-based support.
What is dementia?
Dementia starts as a subtle change in memory and thinking called mild cognitive impairment. At first, you may forget recent conversations or repeat questions multiple times, but it does not affect daily life.
Dementia happens when these symptoms occur frequently and affect your ability to perform once-simple tasks. You become increasingly forgetful. Everyday activities, such as making a list or going to the store, become difficult or impossible. There are many types of dementia. Seeing experienced dementia experts, such as the ones at Henry Ford, helps you receive the services that are best for you.
Dementia symptoms cause difficulties affecting:
- Memory and concentration
- Communicating, including finding the right words or repeating words
- Completing everyday tasks, like preparing a meal or getting dressed
- Planning, including difficulty making or using lists
Some people experience behavioral challenges that may include:
- Becoming easily agitated
- Being impulsive and forgetting manners
- Having anxiety or depression
- Making verbal outbursts
- Showing physical aggression
Types of dementia
There are many types of dementia, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease affects special cells (neurons) that help you learn new information, remember it and retrieve it later. Read more about Alzheimer's disease.
- Frontotemporal dementia occurs in parts of the brain that control behavior, personality and language.
- Lewy body dementia happens when abnormal deposits (Lewy bodies) build up in the brain and affect behavior movement and thinking. People with Lewy body dementia may experience hallucinations.
- Vascular dementia occurs when there’s a disruption of blood flow to the brain, which can happen during an ischemic stroke. The condition also occurs in people who have high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes or use tobacco.
- Mixed dementia is when you experience more than one type of dementia, for instance, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Dementia care at Henry Ford: Why choose us?
Our team approach means neurologists and psychiatrists work together in our Center for Cognitive Health (memory clinic) to perform a comprehensive evaluation, so you receive an accurate diagnosis. We use this information to develop a personalized dementia care plan. You receive therapies to slow the progression of dementia and help you make the most of each day.
Our experience treating a high volume of patients makes it easy for us to anticipate your needs. We are quick to bring in additional specialists, such as occupational therapists, so you receive appropriate care as your needs change. Our careful attention to your needs maximizes your independence and quality of life.
We have the experience to confirm or rule out dementia with a high degree of accuracy. If it is dementia, we determine the type so that you receive appropriate treatment right from the start.
A dementia evaluation typically includes:
- Medical history: Our experts ask you about your personal and family medical history, including neurologic conditions.
- Neurologic exam: We assess your balance, coordination and reflexes. This information helps us determine the additional tests you may need.
- Neuropsychology evaluation: We evaluate areas such as memory, thinking and mood to assess dementia’s impact on your daily life. Explore neuropsychology evaluations.
- Tests to rule out other conditions: You may receive imaging or lab tests to rule out problems such as a vitamin deficiency or normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).
Treatments help preserve your memory and ability to perform certain tasks and cope with the life changes that dementia can bring.
Dementia treatment may include:
- Medications: We may prescribe medications to treat specific symptoms, such as problems with awareness and concentration.
- Care for other medical conditions: Managing conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease may prevent vascular dementia from worsening. Explore our Heart and Vascular Institute.
- Speech therapy: Our therapists help you push past speaking and communication problems, such as finding the correct names and words. Learn more about speech therapy.
- Occupational therapy: We help you retain the skills necessary for activities that are important to you, such as spending time with loved ones. Read more about occupational therapy.
- Lifestyle recommendations: A brain-healthy lifestyle can help you feel your best. We may suggest safe physical activities like walking and help with sleep problems, such as sleep apnea.
- Support for behavioral problems: Our team includes geriatric psychiatrists who specialize in helping older adults with problems such as outbursts and aggression. Find out more about geriatric psychiatry.
Support for family caregivers
A dementia diagnosis affects the entire family. As the disease progresses, it’s natural to experience feelings of loss. And taking on the role of a family caregiver can bring added stress to an already difficult situation.
Henry Ford helps you navigate these challenges with our Caregiver Assistance Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.) Program®. We offer information, support and referrals to helpful community resources for you and your loved one. Find out more about the C.A.R.E. Program.