Most people have no idea what Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is until it affects a member of their family. CJD is a progressive brain disorder that causes dementia and, ultimately, death. The symptoms of the disease are much like those of other kinds of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease. However, the progression of the disease is much faster. Knowing more about the disease is one of the first steps in being a more effective caregiver to someone with CJD.
Overview of CJD
CJD became more widely known in the 1990s because of an outbreak of a variant of the disease that occurred in the United Kingdom. The victims of the disease had all eaten contaminated beef. However, the “regular” form of the disease has not been associated with beef.
CJD is a rare disease. It affects only about 1 person in a million. It usually occurs in older adults. The hallmark sign of CJD is that it causes rapid mental decline. Early signs of the disease include:
• Changes in personality.
• Depression and anxiety.
• Memory problems.
• Thinking problems.
• Blurry vision or blindness.
• Trouble sleeping.
• Speaking and swallowing problems.
• Jerky movements.
The symptoms of the disease worsen as time goes on. Most people with CJD eventually fall into a coma. Causes of death with CJD are usually pneumonia, heart failure, infection, or respiratory failure. Life expectancy from time of diagnosis is about a year.
CJD Risk Factors
Most of the time, doctors don’t know what makes a person develop CJD. However, some kinds of CJD have been associated with certain risk factors, such as:
• Age: The most common kind of CJD, called sporadic CJD, usually starts at around 60 years of age. Other forms may start earlier.
• Genetics: Some people have CJD that runs in the family. Familial CJD is caused by a genetic mutation. People with this form of the disease have a 50 percent chance of their children getting it.
• Exposure to Contaminated Tissue: People who have taken a human growth hormone that was made using materials from the human pituitary gland or who have had tissue grafts covering the brain are at an increased risk for CJD. Eating contaminated meat is also a risk. However, in countries that take proper steps to ensure public health, there’s very little risk.
Dealing with CJD is incredibly challenging for families. Senior care can help family caregivers to older adults with the disease to keep them safe and comfortable at home. Senior care providers can help them to dress, bathe, and use the bathroom. They can also provide activities for them to do, like puzzles, crafts, or involvement in simple household tasks. Senior care providers can also offer overnight care so that family caregivers can get the sleep they need to better cope with the emotional weight of CJD.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Senior Care in Katy, TX, contact the caring staff at Personal Caregiving Services at 832-564-0338.Providing Care in Houston, Bellaire, West University Place, Katy, and Sugar Land and the surrounding areas.
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