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Intouch : In Touch Issue 78
www.alzheimers.org.au In touch Spring 2011 13 Q&A THE RIGHT ANSWERS Families, friends and carers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia often have many questions. In each issue of In touch, AlzNSW offers answers. Q What's the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia? Alzheimer's disease is actually a form of dementia. It can be helpful to think of dementia as an umbrella term for more than 100 known conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia. Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms, such as changes in memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning. There are many different causes of dementia and Alzheimer's disease is the most common type, accounting for between 50--70 per cent of all dementia cases. Q Dad tells different stories to different people. Does the dementia cause him to lie? Dementia causes gaps in people's memories, sometimes described as blank sections. When a person who has dementia is talking about something, or asked a question, and hits one of those blank sections, he or she will often invent to fill in the gap. This is called 'confabulation'. In your dad's case, it allows him to maintain his self-esteem by not appearing as if he 'has no idea'. This story may then change when he talks to another person because the memory of what he said the last time has gone. When you are talking to your dad, stay calm and allow plenty of time for him to respond. Don't argue and feel that you have to make him see the truth. Think of it from his perspective and always aim to maintain his dignity and self-esteem. Need answers? Send your questions to Helen Carswell or phone the National Dementia Helpline. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 1800 100 500 ON THE ROAD Volunteers Raimund Stienen and Johanna Winter-Stienen recently took a trip way out west with the Memory Van to provide community education to the residents of Broken Hill. AlzNSW received funding from the ClubsNSW Community Development Support Expenditure Scheme to deliver information about dementia in Broken Hill, and Raimund and Johanna volunteered to drive the van. QAfter a rainy crossing of the Blue Mountains and a bumpy 200km from Dubbo to Nyngan, the highway from Nyngan to Broken Hill is surprisingly good and there is very little traffic. QThis is where the 'real' outback begins: low saltbushes, short stumpy trees, endless views and some green in between all the shades of grey and yellow. QWe set up the van with local dementia advisor Melanie Chynnoweth-Holland and talk to locals: carers, people worried about their own memory, and others who are generally interested. EWe manage a little sidetrip to the old mining town of Silverton and, following some local advice, an area off the beaten track where beautiful clusters of Sturt Desert Pea are growing. QSeven hours after leaving Nyngan we roll into Broken Hill. QThe next day, we set up the van at the local shopping plaza and see the usual carers and people worried about their memories. QThings get exciting when a journalist from the local TV station turns up for an interview. Once again the day goes fast and before we know it we are ready to pack the van for the drive home. E"In 590km turn left"
In Touch Issue 77
In Touch Summer 2011-12