Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dementia? What to Look For

There is quite a bit of confusion and misconception surrounding the term “dementia”. Many believe that "dementia" is synonymous with  Alzheimer's disease, but in fact, they are not the same.  Alzheimer's disease is one form of dementia, but having dementia does not mean that you or your loved one has Alzheimer's.

While in years past, many thought that forgetfulness was just an inevitable part of aging. But now, we understand that this is not the case. However, most adults should remain alert and able as they age. Now, folks have swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, they fear that age related memory loss is a definite precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

Actual dementia is a neurological disorder as a result of damage or disease in the brain. The most common symptoms of dementia follow:
  • Short term memory loss. The person with dementia may remember long-ago details, but cannot recall what was said a few minutes ago.
  • Problems with language and comprehension. The person may begin to have difficulty  communicating normally, using words that make no sense. They may also forget a simple everyday word they use in everyday conversation.
  • Disorientation. This can take form in three distinct ways - confusion with the date, confusion with a place, or confusion with their identity.
Episodes of delusion are also a common symptom of dementia:
  • Delusion, or an unwavering false belief. This symptom becomes increasingly common as the dementia progresses, it may not appear in the early stages. The person suffering from delusions believes them with conviction.
  • Impaired ability in planning, organizing and executing activities. This means they are being challenged by tasks that employ several basic cognitive functions like memory, language and reasoning, for example cooking.
  • Depression. A significant number of people with dementia are depressed.
  • Behavioral disorders. This usually develops after the onset of other symptoms, but they can occur anytime.
For assistance in caring for those with dementia, contact Spring Arbor.