Home' Intouch : In Touch Summer 2017 Contents SUMMER 2017 IN TOUCH 9
BRODATY AO AND
SACHDEV AM, CO-
DIRECTORS, CENTRE FOR
HEALTHY BRAIN AGEING
There is considerable confusion in the lay mind on the difference
between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia, and even some
scientific publications conflate the two. However, it is important
to draw a clear distinction. Dementia is an umbrella term for
the diagnosis given to individuals who present with a decline in
cognitive functions to an extent that they are no longer able to
independently care for themselve1
AD, on the other hand, is a disease process characterised by,
among other features, the deposition of abnormal levels of two
proteins in the brain: beta-amyloid protein in brain plaques and
hyper-phosphorylated tau in neurofibrillary tangles2.
While AD is usually associated with cognitive decline and
dementia, this is not always the case, and there are many older
individuals who have the brain abnormalities, and therefore the
disease, but do not show cognitive decline or have only mild
symptoms characterised as mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
but not dementia3. AD accounts for about 60 per cent of all
cases of dementia. The latter in fact has over 100 causes, the
most common of which, after AD, are cerebrovascular disease
(vascular dementia or VaD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and
frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
The conflation of AD with dementia has had some negative
consequences. While AD generally leads to progressive decline,
not all dementia shows this pattern, and there are some
patients with dementia who stay stable or even improve. Some
dementias, such as vascular dementia or ones due to traumatic
brain injury, might be preventable to a greater degree than AD,
and this should receive attention in population health. Since about
40 per cent of dementia is not AD, research effort should be
directed to other causes in proportion to the burden, lest they be
neglected. Moreover, the care needs of patients with VaD, DLB
and FTD might be different from those with AD, and this should
be recognised. The decision by Alzheimer’s Australia to change its
name to Dementia Australia is therefore a welcome recognition of
all causes of dementia.
1. Sachdev PS, et al. Classifying neurocognitive disorders: the DSM-
5 approach. Nat Rev Neurol. 2014 Nov;10(11):634-42.
2. Scheltens P, et al. Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet. 2016 Jul
3. Aizenstein H, et al. Frequent amyloid deposition without
significant cognitive impairment among the elderly. Arch Neurol
2008; 65: 1509-1517.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
MEET LANA, ONE OF OUR
“After rigorous counselling studies,
publishing four books, volunteering
as a speaker for Beyond Blue
and working at Lifeline, I happily
accepted a position on the
National Dementia Helpline in
January 2016, and what an adventure it has been!
Being a Helpline advisor is as challenging as it is
rewarding. Calls range from disseminating information
to assisting those who are experiencing one of the most
difficult times in their lives.
The National Dementia Helpline speaks to families in
conflict. We speak to those in remote parts of the country
left feeling isolated, alone and scared. We do our best to
unravel the knots surrounding capacity and legal issues.
We speak to sons, daughters, partners, in-laws, siblings,
friends, carers and health workers alike. We counsel those
who have been diagnosed with dementia and who are
feeling alone, and those who just want to share their story.
No two days are the same working at the National
Dementia Helpline. I’ve organised emergency
interventions for people in need. I’ve also organised a
reunion between two 100-year- old women who called
me. I’ve cried alongside people as they’ve shared with
me their grief and I’ve laughed uproariously alongside
hundreds of others who see the funny side of life. I’ve
attempted to help track down those who have wandered.
Being on the frontline, we do our best to offer hope,
greater insight, a sympathetic ear, calm voice and
extended hand to all those who contact us.
The role of a dementia advisor is unpredictable and
draws upon many skills: ability to empathise and educate;
comforting the many who need support; and connecting
people to our services and into the more-than-capable
hands of Dementia Australia staff.
Yes, our job is demanding, but being invited into
people’s lives during their time of need is an honour. I
believe that the reason we’re all here is to look out for
one another, so to have scored a job that enables me
to do just that at the same time as being surrounded
by other beautiful advisors is an absolute blessing.”
THE NATIONAL DEMENTIA
The National Dementia Helpline is a free and confidential
phone and email information and support service that
operates from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and provides
• dementia and memory loss
• how you might be able to reduce your risk of dementia
• government support services
• services in your area
• ways to help you manage the effects of dementia
Anyone who is concerned about their memory, has
been diagnosed with dementia, works with people with
dementia or simply wants to know more can contact the
National Dementia Helpline via phone, email or webchat.
All of our services are private and confidential.
Personal information will not be shared without your
consent (unless required by law).
THE NATIONAL DEMENTIA HELPLINE IS AVAILABLE
FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY, 9AM TO 5PM.
T: 1800 100 500 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
7/12/17 5:00 pm
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