Dementia signs vary from person to person. Dementia is a disease of the brain that makes it difficult for those afflicted to learn new things, remember things and to communicate, eventually leading to difficulty in caring for oneself, changes in mood, changes in personality and disruptive behavior. The person afflicted with dementia is often not aware that he has dementia. Head injuries, strokes, brain tumors and Alzheimer's disease destroy brain cells, causing dementia. Dementia may also be genetic.
Warning Signs of Dementia
There are several signs of dementia, and not all people with dementia have all of the signs. Some have one or more, while others have all of them. Over time, additional symptoms will develop as the brain deteriorates.
One of the most noticeable signs of dementia is "recent" memory loss. Though a person may forget things, she will remember them later. A person with dementia never remembers a recent memory. She may ask you the same question over and over again, because she can't remember that he asked you the question already.
Familiar tasks become difficult. A person with dementia may get the feeling he is hungry and will cook something, but will forget to serve it. He might even forget that he cooked it or that he is in the process of cooking it.
Language and communication also become difficult. When speaking, she may forget what something is called or may call it something else, such as calling a radio a television or forgetting the word radio altogether.
A person afflicted with dementia may also get lost on his own block. He may forget how to get to a place he goes to every day. The person might also get easily distracted and might have poor judgment. He might do things such as forgetting to put on a coat to go outside in the winter or in the rain.
The ability to think and process abstract thoughts also diminishes. Working with numbers is an abstract process, so balancing a checkbook becomes difficult, if not impossible.
Another symptom is mood changes. The person afflicted with dementia may become moody and exhibit behavior changes. She may be happy one second, then become very angry for no apparent reason in the next second.
One of the more common signs that is particularly noticeable to loved ones is that the affected person "loses" things. He may put things in the wrong place (sugar in the fridge, ice cream in the cupboard) and will not remember putting them in the wrong place.
What to Do
Signs of dementia need to be taken seriously. All forms of dementia are degenerative, and the person will get worse over time. If caught in the early stages, there are treatments and therapies that can slow the progression of dementia, adding more functional time to the patient's life.
It's important to know that forgetfulness is not a normal part of aging. Difficulty remembering things is a sign of brain impairment with an underlying cause. Everyone forgets things once in a while, but when this happens frequently, it's time to see a doctor.
You should also know the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia. Not all dementia is Alzheimer's, even though Alzheimer's is the leading cause of dementia in people over the age of 50. Alzheimer's is a specific neurological disease that causes plaque to build up in the brain, destroying brain cells. There are additional causes of dementia, including Parkinson's Disease, head injuries, strokes and chronic drug and alcohol abuse.
There are many known causes of dementia, a progressive illness of the brain that causes severe behaviorial and personality changes.
Symptoms of dementia in seniors can be challenging for family members and caregivers. Learn how dementia progresses and what to expect.