Dementia is an overarching term to describe diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in problem solving, memory, language, and other cognitive skills that affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of Dementia.
Alzheimer’s and other disorders grouped under the general term of “Dementia” are caused by abnormal changes in the brain. These changes trigger a decline in cognitive abilities (or thinking skills) that are severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. These changes can also affect feelings, behaviour, and relationships.
Dementia is not limited to Seniors, however, the chance of developing the disease increases with age. It’s important to treat the illness right away and to find the most supportive and immersive health care.
Find a home healthcare provider such as Integracare — a senior healthcare service that has been delivering Dementia Care to clients’ homes for almost 30 years.
If there is an older adult in your life, be mindful of the following five warning signs of Dementia.
1. Memory Loss
It’s normal for ageing adults to occasionally forget appointments or little things such as where they put their keys. A person with Dementia may forget things more often and not remember things at all.
Memory loss is typically one of the first signs of Dementia. In the beginning, memory lapses may be mistaken for normal forgetfulness associated with ageing, or when people become stressed. However, for someone with Dementia, it will progressively become clear that memory problems are becoming more severe and consistent.
Usually, this is more apparent to friends and family than to the person themselves. It will begin to interrupt their everyday life.
It’s normal to temporarily misplace items, but it’s an entirely different thing altogether to forget who a relative or spouse is or to forget concepts concerning time and place.
Here are tips on how to cope with age-related memory loss:
- Organize information (keep details in a calendar or day planner)
- Put items in the same spot (for example, keep your wallet by the bed)
- Repeat information (repeat the names of individuals you meet a few times)
- Try to attain a full night’s sleep and make sleep hygiene a priority
Despite these efforts, a person with Dementia will continue to exhibit signs of the disease.
Individuals with Dementia often become disoriented in space and time. This may be a result of confusion triggered by the changes in the brain and memory loss, or perhaps due to difficulties recognizing objects and people.
The “internal clock” — our instincts letting us know when it’s time to eat or sleep — tends to be disrupted with Dementia. It might be difficult to imagine someone has been gone for days when it’s really only been ten minutes. Nevertheless, this type of behaviour is fairly common, and is perhaps easier to comprehend if you bear in the mind the consequences of memory loss.
A person with Dementia may experience difficulty navigating their way to a familiar place or feel confused about where they are. When Dementia starts to progress, people often think they’re back in the past time of their life. Current memories start to fade and present-day starts to evaporate.
Look out for signs of disorientation or confusion. If your loved one doesn’t understand where they are, it might be time to visit the doctor.
3. Difficulty with Tasks
It’s common for people to get distracted and forget to serve part of a meal. However, a person with Dementia may have trouble with all the steps involved in preparing a meal they’ve cooked many times.
Simple, daily tasks will become almost impossible. Your loved one will need professional care and support. Tragically, the disease worsens with time and patients need professional care on a daily basis.
4. Poor Judgment
Poor judgement is in reference to the inability for patients with Dementia to make appropriate decisions. If someone you love has Dementia, she or he might be unable to evaluate the various factors that should be considered when making a decision. Being able to look ahead to the possible outcome of a behaviour or a choice might be a challenge, as is framing and considering abstract ideas versus concrete ideas.
A person with Dementia may have extreme difficulty making appropriate decisions, such as what to wear in cold or hot weather. They may also start to care less and less about their personal appearance and hygiene.
They may say offensive, inappropriate things that are out of character. This lack of judgement is not a reflection on them; sadly, it’s a common symptom of the many types of Dementia.
5. Mood, Personality, and Behavioural Changes
Someone with Dementia can experience rapid mood swings for no apparent reason. They can become suspicious, confused, angry, or withdrawn. People who were once outgoing and social can quickly become the opposite. Alternatively, people may become more outgoing when they were once more introverted.
Depression is experienced by nearly 50 percent of individuals diagnosed with Dementia, and it can actually make the symptoms of the disease worse. It can cause increased confusion, forgetfulness, and anxiety.
It’s important to recognize depression in people with Dementia because depression may respond to treatment. If you think your loved one is depressed, speak to his or her doctor.
People with Dementia also experience apathy. Apathy is a term that describes a loss of motivation, interest, and/ or persistence. The person will stop caring and stop wanting to be with others. The affected individual may become apathetic and feel unmotivated to do anything or see anyone.
It’s very difficult to witness someone you love retreat from social interaction and other activities. Be mindful of your loved one’s actions and behaviour. If you notice anything new or peculiar, be sure to consult with his or her doctor.
Dementia is hard on the families of those living with the disease and it’s important to diagnosis early. When you know the signs, you’ll be able to give your loved one the support that they need.