The very thought that you might one day lose all your memories is frightening, and it’s no wonder so many people fear dementia. Some forgetfulness is common in the old age, but dementia is more than that: it’s a loss of memory, judgment, as well as language, and the condition worsens over time. While it’s not yet certain what exactly causes dementia, people tend to overlook early signs and notice that something’s wrong only later.
SHORT-TERM MEMORY LOSS
It’s common that a person may forget about an appointment or a specific plan and remember it later. We’ve all been guilty of forgetting our appointments unless we write them down or set a reminder on our phones. A person with dementia may forget about a lot of things that have happened recently and not remember them at all later on. They might even have problems finding the right words to express how they feel, what they want, or even an object they’re currently holding in their hand.
Another early sign of dementia is a change in personality: they can become confused, suspicious, or even outright paranoid about things. They might forget where they’ve put their wallet or keys and voice their suspicion that somebody must have come in and stolen them while they weren’t looking or paying attention. They might also become more emotional, withdrawn, or even depressed.
Being sad and/or moody is something we all feel from time to time, no matter how old we are. On the other hand, a person with dementia may experience rapid changes in their mood, and these mood swings may happen very often and without any apparent reason. They also lose interest in things they used to enjoy and love, so it might take extra effort and even some cues in order to motivate them to do something.
A person with early-stage dementia can show signs of confusion and disorientation. Their sense of direction starts to deteriorate and their ability to orient in space gets worse too: they might have a problem with recognizing landmarks that used to be familiar to them or even forget a direction they regularly used for a long time.
CARING FOR PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA
Family members and caregivers who take care of people with dementia face a lot of changes every day, and they know that the situation can only get more complicated and more difficult as time passes by. This is one of the reasons why so many people whose family members suffer from dementia choose to work with residential aged care facilities or trained, professional caregivers. When interacting with a dementia patient, it’s important to keep a positive attitude and be patient, to ask simple questions and when you notice that they get restless or upset, distract them and start over.
While there is no cure for dementia, there are treatments which can focus on slowing down irreversible factors and correcting the reversible ones. By correcting and changing drug doses and treating symptoms, dementia patients’ overall health condition will be temporarily improved. Specific medical disorders can be treated with medications such as depression, diabetes and heart disease. Certain medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors and others may help reduce symptoms, while occupational therapy will help them stay physically fit and improve some of the symptoms.
One of the reasons why so many dementia patients don’t get diagnosed until later stages is because early signs are so subtle and vague. It might not be obvious that there’s anything wrong with your loved ones, but if you pay close attention, you might be able to notice the symptoms early on and do something about them.
Author Bio – Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time, she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.