The World Health Organization describes dementia as a syndrome that causes a deterioration of cognitive function beyond what is typical of biological aging. Around the world, more than 55 million people live with dementia, and there are around 10 million new cases each year.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but there are others, including Dementia with Lewy Bodies, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia, according to WebMD.
People diagnosed with dementia may need to rely on a vast care network to help them through every stage of their condition. Here is a brief rundown of the various professionals individuals may interact with as they navigate life with dementia.
People with dementia may become confused and disoriented, and it's common for them to get lost not far from home. Others may forget a reason for going to a store or may be unable to find their way back to a vehicle. First responders, such as emergency personnel, often step in to provide immediate assistance to someone who is lost or had an accident related to his or her dementia.
Primary care physician
A primary care physician likely will be the first person, apart from family, to recognize signs and symptoms of dementia. Primary care physicians may even help develop an initial care plan.
Dementia can affect a person's ability to communicate. Speech-language pathologists will work with their patients with language fluency, remembering words, cognitive communication, and feeding and swallowing therapies.
An individual with dementia may need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Professionals can help dementia patients with ADLs, which may include bathing, dressing, and taking medications.
Professional care providers
Professionals who have undergone specialized training and certification in dementias will have the most current, evidenced-based care practices information, according to the Alzheimer's Association. They can work with individuals to provide the best care and quality of life.
Scientists continue to investigate the causes of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in an effort to reduce rates and find a cure.
In addition to these individuals, nurses, dieticians, physical and occupational therapists, and others may assist individuals diagnosed with dementia.