Symptoms of dementia are very hard to handle and would take a huge toll on the immediate caregivers.
Dementia, contrary to popular belief, is not something that only elderly could people have. There are many types of dementia, others even affecting children. Dementia is not contagious, it is however hereditary. Symptoms of dementia may be neglected in its early stages. And not all people realize the seriousness of this condition. But once it progresses, people start taking notice and that is when they start to worry.
So, what do we have to know about dementia in order to spot it as early as possible? The answers to that and more will be provided in this article, so read on.
What Causes Symptoms of Dementia?
Dementia is a condition that is characterized by forgetfulness and often related to old-age. However, that is only partially true. It is not only old age that causes dementia, but a variety of other risk factors as well. The list below contains some of the most common and medically accepted reasons for this condition.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – this is a condition that is most commonly associated with symptoms of dementia. Dementia in Alzheimer’s is caused by the progressive degeneration of neurons in the brain. This irreversible damage is what causes lapses in memory, and eventually a decline overall body functioning.
- Stroke – a stroke (See: Symptoms of a Stroke) is defined as the disruption of blood supply to the brain. In essence, once the blood supply is disrupted, oxygen is too as well. Once the brain lacks in its required amount of oxygen, neurons would start to die, thus causing symptoms of dementia.
- Lewy bodies – these are structures that are spherically shaped and causes damage to our brain cells.
- Pick’s Disease – this result from the damage in the fronto-temporal area in the brain. The first symptoms would be behavior and personality changes. After a while, dementia will develop.
- Other diseases – other diseases associated with the development of dementia would be HIV, Korsakoff’s Syndrome, Huntington disease, Multiple Sclerosis Symptomsand many others.
Staging the Symptoms of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia are categorized in different stages. This allows medical practitioners track the patient’s progress, or deterioration, easily. This also allows the caregivers to know what to expect as the disease progresses. The following will be the symptoms of dementia as categorized in its respective stages.
During this stage, the symptoms are not so evident. The patient, and even the family members, would just disregard it as normal changes associated with old age. Memory lapses could easily be covered up by the patient.
- Patient starts to notice that he or she seems to be a bit forgetful but associates it with just having a bad day or some concurrent problem.
- Some family members start to notice changes in the patient, but disregard it as something not serious.
- Misplaces things commonly used like eyeglasses, wallets, books, keys, etc.
- Starts to forget appointments, telephone numbers, names of acquaintances, etc.
The symptoms of dementia are more evident during this stage. The patient might start to feel helpless due to constant memory lapses. Family members would start to notice significant changes in behavior and personality.
- Patient would experience difficulty in finding the right words to use. They would compensate by using synonyms instead, or even defining the word itself.
- Common tasks might prove to be difficult to perform like driving, cooking, managing finances, etc.
- Personality and behavioral changes would be observed, like a usually sociable and loud person would suddenly become more introverted and vice versa. Paranoia is also very common at this stage.
- Mood swings would be observed.
- Patient might become disoriented from time to time, waking up early to go to work when that person is already retired. They might also start to wander, trying to look for familiar places like their childhood home.
During this stage, the symptoms would have worsened to an extent that daily functioning is affected. Normal activities would have been forgotten, and they would need constant assistance.
- Bathing, dressing, using the toilet, etc. might prove to be too hard for them to perform.
- Hallucinations, delusions and inappropriate behavior are evident during this stage.
- Eating might become a problem since they might have forgotten how to utensils, and even how to swallow.
- Walking and moving would be a huge challenge. Some patients would not be able to walk at all.
- Regression to early childhood state would be observed.
Effect on Family Members
Dementia is a very challenging disease, not only for the patient but for the family members as well. The toll of taking care of an elderly person might prove to be too much for just one person alone. They might need assistance from medical personnel to handle their patients.
Witnessing a person suffering from the symptoms of dementia could also be heartbreaking. Time will come that they won’t even recognize you. When this happens, you would need to be very strong. It is very easy to break down, seeing your parents not recognize you anymore. But you have to remember, now is the time that they need you the most, and you would have to give them your utmost love and support.