What is Dementia?
Dementia isn’t a specific disease by itself. Rather, dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms, which can be caused by several different diseases. Dementia can affect your memory, thinking, and social abilities which can affect your day-to-day life.
One of the primary symptoms of dementia that can be identified early is memory loss. However, solely having memory problems doesn’t indicate that you have dementia. There are many signs and symptoms to take into consideration. Further, there are multiple other risk factors like smoking, drinking, genetics, and more that can increase the risk of developing dementia amongst people.
Forms of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. Other types of dementia include mixed dementia and early-onset dementia. The early symptoms might not be easily diagnosed and dementia might develop slowly. Depending on the cause, some of the symptoms might be reversible.
It is important to understand the early signs of dementia so that you can seek appropriate help. Dementia treatment is largely centered around slowing the progress of the disorder.
Early Symptoms of Dementia
As dementia could be caused by a variety of diseases, its symptoms vary based on the cause. However, there are some common warning signs that you need to take note of.
Minor Short-Term Memory Issues
Do you or your family member have a perfect recollection of a trip you took many years ago, but struggle to remember what you had for breakfast?
Remember events that took place many years ago, but having issues with short-term memory is a very common symptom of dementia. People with dementia often have trouble remembering why they came into a room or where they left their mobile phone or what they were supposed to do right then.
Though these memory issues seem subtle and minor, keeping an eye out for it can help diagnose dementia early.
The Trouble with Finding the Right Words
Does your family member have trouble finding the right words to express your thoughts?
One of the common symptoms of dementia is difficulty finding the right words. Having a conversation with a person with dementia might be difficult and confusing. They might have issues with explaining their thoughts and communication. Thus, they can take a long time to converse.
Do you or your family members have trouble remembering the time and place? Do you get lost in your locality? Are you having trouble recognizing family and friends?
Confusion and being muddled are the warning signs of dementia. Memory issues and judgment lapses are signs of mild cognitive decline and can confuse. This can manifest in many different ways - having issues remembering faces, getting lost in familiar places, forgetting what day it is, etc.
Mood Swings and Personality Changes
Did your family member have a sudden personality change? Is your shy and reserved elder suddenly more outgoing and carefree?
Another common sign of dementia is a change in mood. This is a difficult symptom to recognize in yourself, so take note of others’ remarks on your personality and mood.
However, you can easily notice this in your family members or loved ones. Depression is a symptom of early dementia. Similarly, sudden personality changes, such as a shy person becoming outgoing, could indicate dementia. This is because the condition often affects judgment.
Loss of Initiative and Disinterest
Have you lost interest in your hobbies? Do you feel emotionally flat? Do previously enjoyable activities seem uninteresting to you?
As stated earlier, depression could be an early symptom of dementia. This results in a loss of interest in your hobbies and activities. People with dementia can seem apathetic and unemotional. They might no longer enjoy going out, spending time with friends, and other activities they enjoyed earlier.
Inability in Performing Normal Tasks
Do you or your family members have trouble completing everyday tasks, especially those that you could do easily before?
Inability to perform normal tasks might be an indicator of dementia. Having trouble finding the right change when shopping, and difficulty in getting dressed or preparing a meal are common symptoms of dementia, especially in older adults.
Difficulty in adapting to new situations
Are you extremely anxious to face a new situation? Do you feel disinterested and averse to changes?
Since it can be extremely challenging to forget a familiar face, be lost in your street, or be unable to follow a conversation, a person with dementia might be easily distressed. This makes them fearful of new situations and changes.
People with dementia can find it very difficult to adapt. Moving to a new apartment or shopping from a new store can be upsetting for them. A change in routine or disruptions in routine might be frightening for them.
Trouble in Following Storylines
Do you or your loved one feel confused when watching TV shows or movies? Do you have trouble following the storylines? Do the dialogues seem difficult to understand?
An early symptom of dementia is difficulty following storylines. As stated earlier, finding the right words might be difficult for a person with dementia. Similarly, they might forget the meanings of words and phrases. Hence, it might be difficult for them to follow the dialogues and storylines of TV shows and movies.
Disorientation and Lack of Spatial Awareness
Do you feel like you have lost your sense of direction? Do you or your loved ones struggle to follow a series of directions? Are you getting lost in places that were once familiar to you?
With the onset of dementia, many people suffer from disorientation and a deterioration in their sense of direction & spatial awareness. This is a warning sign that shouldn't be ignored. Instances, where you cannot recognize familiar landmarks and forget directions to a frequently visited place, might be an indication of dementia. People with dementia also find it hard to follow step-by-step instructions or a sequence of directions.
Do you find yourself asking a question only for your loved one to tell you that they’ve just answered you? Have you or your family members repeated daily routines?
A fairly common sign of dementia is repetition due to memory loss. Repeating routine tasks such as shaving/bathing and asking a question that they forget has already been answered is a symptom of memory loss and dementia. They might also misplace items in odd places.
If you or your loved one is suffering from memory loss or other symptoms of dementia, do not hesitate to get medical help. Especially if you feel confused or if you think your daily life is getting affected. Feel free to contact us at +91 97414 76476 or visit our website.
Q1. Are there any measures to prevent dementia?
While there is no medication to prevent dementia, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of dementia. Ensure that you get regular physical exercise. Have a diet including lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, etc. Reduce your intake of red meat. Stop smoking or consuming alcohol. Stay mentally alert by learning new things - try out a new hobby, learn a new language, solve puzzles, etc.
Q2. What are the options for dementia treatment?
There are multiple options to manage and reduce the symptoms of dementia. There are prescription drugs used to reduce the effects of dementia, such as cholinesterase inhibitors or glutamate inhibitors. A doctor might also prescribe medications for managing mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or sleep issues.
Therapy is a vital tool for managing dementia. Different types of therapy — like Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, Behavioural Therapy, Reality Orientation Therapy, Validation Therapy — can help people with dementia. A therapist can also guide the family members of a dementia patient and suggest various aids, for instance, external memory aids, stress management techniques, specific routines, etc.