Dementia is a term that is used to describe the variety of conditions that can cause the brain to fall. It is commonly described as the ‘umbrella term’. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia; the proportions of those with different forms of dementia can be broken down as follows:
Alzheimer’s disease: 62%
Vascular disease: 17%
Mixed dementia: 10%
Lewy-body dementia: 4%
Fronto-temporal dementia: 2%
Parkinson’s disease: 2%
It is common that we all experience normal, age related changed as we get older, however, dementia is marked by a gradual impoverishment of thought and other mental activities that eventually affect almost every aspect of life.
With Dementia Awareness Week recently, we think it is important to continue to raise awareness of dementia by sharing some warning signs to look out for.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life- The most common sign of dementia is memory loss, especially if you notice your love one forgetting very recent events. It is very common that a person living with dementia might lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Someone living with dementia may also forget the correct time and get lost in a familiar environment, such as their own house which they have lived in for 10 years.
A change in mood or personality- If you notice that your loved one seems different from his/her usual self in ways that are difficult to identify or explain this could be a warning sign. They may become suspicious, irritable, depressed, apathetic, anxious, or confused, especially in situations where memory problems are causing difficulties.
Difficulty in their speech- Another early sign of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts the way they used too. They may try and find the right words, but just can’t seem to grasp them, therefore, conversations with an elderly parent who has dementia can become difficult and take longer than usual to conclude.
Their sense of direction might change- Sense of direction and spatial orientation is a common function of thinking that starts to deteriorate with the onset of dementia. This might mean not recognising once familiar landmarks and forgetting regularly used directions. It might also become more difficult to follow series of directions and step-by-step instructions.
Struggling to adapt to change- If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, the experience is frightening for them. They will go through mixed emotions, and suddenly they can’t remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They might find they can’t remember why they went to the store and get lost on the way home.
Not all of these warning signs may be applicable in every case, but if you feel that your loved one may be experiencing one or more of these warning signs, or should you have any doubt, then it is best to seek professional advice, and the best place to start is with your GP.
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