31 January 10 Signs of Dementia & What It Means for You or a Loved One
We’ve all misplaced our car keys, lost our driver’s licenses, or forgotten a new acquaintance’s name. But the signs of dementia are often more serious — and more frequent — than these occasional slip-ups.
Read on to learn about the multiple kinds of dementia, how to identify the 10 most common symptoms, and what it means for you or a loved one.
The Multiple Kinds of Dementia
Dementia is a general term referring to a group of symptoms that can be caused by multiple different diseases. In rare cases, dementia is the result of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington’s disease, and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. More commonly, dementia is caused by:
Alzheimer’s disease causes 60-80% of dementia cases.
Vascular dementia is the second most common kind of dementia. It comes from microscopic bleeding or blood vessel blockage in a person’s brain.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
DLB is a common type of dementia. Its symptoms include the 10 signs of dementia listed below, as well as tremors and rigidity.
Frontotemporal dementia refers to a group of disorders caused by the breakdown of frontal and temporal lobe nerve cells.
Many elderly patients get dementia from a combination of diseases.
10 Signs of Dementia
In general, the signs of dementia demonstrate a decline in your loved one’s memory, language, and problem-solving skills. Symptoms often affect the person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Ten common signs of dementia include:
Short-term memory difficulties
Your loved one may forget what you tell them, such as family or national news.
Problems tracking physical items
Lost purses, wallets, and keys might become the norm.
Your loved one might forget important events, like appointments, even when they’re marked on a calendar.
Your loved one may struggle to use certain words that they should know.
Declined motor functions
Your loved one may lose their coordination, making it difficult to walk as quickly as usual.
Less spatial ability
As they drive or walk, your loved one may find themselves lost or confused.
Your loved one may show a drastic change in personality. For example, a person who is usually soft-spoken may become loud.
Your loved one may show signs of depression.
Your loved one may say something inappropriate or speak in an inappropriate tone.
Depending on the underlying cause, your loved one may have hallucinations.
How To Treat Dementia
As soon as you realize that a loved one is exhibiting signs of dementia, see a doctor.
One of the first questions families ask their doctors is how to treat dementia. If the dementia is caused by something like an immune disorder, nutritional deficiency, or medication, it can be reversed.
However, in most cases, there is no cure for dementia. Dementia care focuses on maintenance with non-drug approaches, drug therapies, and professional homecare.
Non-drug approaches address the fact that many dementia patients don’t understand or can’t express new needs as symptoms progress. To manage dementia symptoms, carers:
– Check patient comfort, ensuring that personal needs (hunger, thirst, pain, etc.) are met
– Create soothing environments, eliminating noise, background distractions, and too many stimulating events –
– Provide emotional support, offering affectionate touch and conversation
– Avoid confrontations, ignoring incorrect facts, memory lapses, and “ornery” behavior
-Provide a security object, allowing your loved one to feel comfortable outside of home
– Consider multiple causes for behavior, including reactions to medication or illness
While non-drug therapies are the best course of action, doctors occasionally recommend medicine to alleviate dementia symptoms. In those cases, doctors prescribe the same medications as they do for Alzheimer’s. These medications include cholinesterase inhibitors, which can delay or slow symptoms in the early to moderate stages of dementia and have few side effects. Moderate and severe dementia patients can take memantine, which improves mental abilities and the capability to complete daily activities, though it has side effects, like confusion and dizziness.
Professional homecare assistance
When families get worried about how to treat dementia and manage the treatment plan, they often turn to professional homecare providers. In-home care professionals ensure that your loved one receives top-notch care in a comfortable setting. Families can get help from in-home professionals with short-term, long-term, or respite care. Professionals can:
– Provide companionship
– Prepare meals
– Assist with personal health and hygiene
– Perform laundry and light housekeeping tasks
– Help with outings and travel
– Assist with cognition exercises and other dementia-specific upkeep
Dementia is caused by many diseases, but the signs of dementia are similar. Because dementia is usually untreatable, caretakers should rely on non-drug approaches, drug treatments, and professional homecare to ensure that your loved one maintains a high quality of life.
Does your loved one have dementia? Bluebird Homecare’s trained staff offer assistance with meaningful Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), as well as companionship, help with simple tasks like housekeeping and meal preparation, and other more in-depth care needs associated with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.