If someone you know has dementia they may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits.
Dementia is a broad term for mental illnesses which destroy memory and thinking ability. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, but there are other types, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
The terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably, but Alzheimer’s is responsible for about 70% of cases of dementia.
In pop culture, dementia is portrayed as a very binary concept; affected characters wake up one day forgetting their children’s names. The reality is that dementia exists on a spectrum. Occasionally forgetting details grows into forgetting names, then advances to repeating conversations and paranoid behavior.
Early dementia is difficult to detect because it is similar to normal aging.
Everyone has forgotten a grocery list item or walked into a room looking for something and then couldn’t remember what it was. Dementia is not normally detected until it interferes with everyday tasks. Difficulty managing money, preparing food, or traveling is a common symptom. Personality changes are also common, and vary greatly by individual. Dementia can cause a shy person to become outgoing or a normally extroverted person to become withdrawn and apathetic.
Dementia has several causes, but Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
Every 67 seconds someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the gradual death of brain cells and shrinking of the brain. Alzheimer’s can take years to advance from the early to later stages. Dementia can also occur suddenly as in the case of severe head injury or stroke.
Dementia is generally not reversible.
Treatment centers on managing symptoms and maintaining quality of life. Sometimes addressing the root cause behind the dementia will alleviate the condition. For example, in the case of brain tumors, dementia will reverse when the tumor is removed. Dementia can be caused by substance abuse or depression and in these instances, dementia will often fade when the root causes are treated. However, in irreversible cases of dementia, care focuses around emotional and financial support for the patient.
People with dementia can have trouble with everyday tasks.
One of the most important things that can be done for someone suffering from this aliment is to monitor them. Making sure they are eating properly and keeping up with their bills is helpful. As the disease progresses, it may become necessary to remind to use the restroom or to take away access to their vehicle. Especially in the later stages, it can be difficult or impossible for someone with dementia to hold down a job.
Neither dementia or Alzheimer’s is listed in Social Security’s “blue book”- an index of conditions which qualify for benefits.
However, dementia may meet the general listing for “Organic Mental Disorders”. The listing for mental disorders requires either:
- Loss of sense of time and place
- Memory loss, or inability to form new memories
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Personality changes
- Mood swings or poor impulse control, or
- Loss of IQ of at least 15 points