We have another installment in our series of favorite blogs from the past. Here is part of a blog from June of 2010. The information is still very valuable.
An online article from FamilyDoctor.org outlines some common symptoms in recognizing dementia.
"Dementia causes many problems for the person who has it and for the person's family. Many of the problems are caused by memory loss. Some common symptoms of dementia are listed below. Not everyone who has dementia will experience all of these symptoms.
- Recent memory loss. All of us forget things for a while and then remember them later. People who have dementia often forget things, but they never remember them. They might ask you the same question over and over, each time forgetting that you've already given them the answer. They won't even remember that they already asked the question.
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People who have dementia might cook a meal but
forget to serve it. They might even forget that they cooked it.
Problems with language. People who have dementia may forget simple words or use the wrong words. This makes it hard to understand what they want.
- Time and place disorientation. People who have dementia may get lost on their
own street. They may forget how they got to a certain place and how to get
Poor judgment. Even a person who doesn't have dementia might get distracted. But people who have dementia can forget simple things, like forgetting to put on a coat before going out in cold weather.
- Problems with abstract thinking. Anybody might have trouble balancing a checkbook, but people who have dementia may forget what the numbers are and what has to be done with them.
- Misplacing things. People who have dementia may put things in the wrong places. They might put an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. Then they can't find these things later.
- Changes in mood. Everyone
is moody at times, but people who have dementia may have fast mood swings,
going from calm to tears to anger in a few minutes.
Personality changes. People who have dementia may have drastic changes in personality. They might become irritable, suspicious or fearful.
- Loss of initiative. People who have dementia may become passive. They might not want to go places or see other people."
Dementia is caused by change or destruction of brain cells. Often this change is a result of small strokes or blockage of blood cells, severe hypothyroidism or Alzheimer’s disease. There is a continuous decline in ability to perform normal daily activities. Personal care including dressing, bathing, preparing meals and even eating a meal eventually becomes impossible.
The Alzheimer’s Organization reports that 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. They also report that there are 10.9 million unpaid caregivers helping those afflicted by the disease. In 2000, there were an estimated 411,000 new (incident) cases of Alzheimer’s disease. For 2010, that number is projected to be 454,000 new cases; by 2030, 615,000; and by 2050, 959,000. To read the full report, visit www.alz.org.
In the beginning, family members find part time caregivers for their loved one. At first, loved ones need only a little help with remembering to do daily activities or prepare meals. As dementia progresses, caregiving demands often progress to 24 hour care. Night and day become confused and normal routines of sleeping, eating and functioning become more difficult for the patient. The demented person feels frustrated and may lash out in anger or fear. It is not uncommon for a child or spouse giving the care to quickly become overwhelmed and discouraged.