Dementia is a common illness usually found in older persons from about 50 years and above. It is a recline in one’s memory, which usually causes memory loss and other mental difficulties which interfere with the daily life of an individual who has this disease. Dementia is an incurable disease which is managed by drugs, and these drugs may help to slow down the progression of the disease. The symptoms of dementia vary, depending on the types of dementia and the part of the brain that is affected. There are also stages of dementia — some stages are not developed enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis, while some can be diagnosed after a checkup. Persons with dementia may experience these symptoms:
Some people may forget events that happened recently or even events that happened when they were much younger. There may be gaps in their memory causing them to be disoriented and confused. Sudden memory loss may cause dementia patients to take drastic actions that may most likely cause harm to them or others.
They may start getting disoriented and confused which may cause them to forget days and dates that it is. They may think they are in the 1980s when in fact they are in the 21st century.
Dementia patients may suffer from mood disorder which may cause a sudden change in their mood. They may go from happy and excited to angry, irritated, frustrated, anxious, sad and withdrawn.
Some persons who suffer from dementia may suffer from a visual hallucination; they may start to see things or persons who are not really there. They may even be delusional which may cause them to believe things that are not true.
Persons who suffer from dementia may find it difficult to concentrate on tasks that they usually carry out such as cooking meals or working on a project they are quite familiar with. They may have problems with organizing and planning their day, which may cause frustration and anger.
Dementia patients may find it difficult to concentrate long enough to follow a conversation, due to a short attention span. They may also have a hard time finding the appropriate word to describe a situation or complete a sentence. Persons with dementia may also suddenly change the topic being discussed.
This is the ability of an individual to understand and identify objects around them and interpret their spatial relationships. Persons with dementia have problems with their visuospatial ability — they are unable to judge distances accurately. They may not be able to judge the length of the porch to the stairs, which may cause them to fall and hurt themselves in the process. Dementia patients may also see objects in three dimensions, thereby, confusing them.
Stages of Dementia
Dementia is a disease that develops gradually and progresses; here are the different stages:
Stage 1: No Impairment Stage
This stage cannot be diagnosed because there are no symptoms of dementia at this stage. The absence of symptoms makes dementia undetectable at this stage.
Stage 2: Mild Decline Stage
Persons in this stage would only experience minor memory problems. They start to misplace and lose items in the house and they may forget they did certain things.
Stage 3: Mild Decline Stage
Persons at this stage may find it uneasy to find or use the appropriate words during a conversation; they may have problems with planning and organizing; they may also lose personal items or have problems remembering a new acquaintance’s name. People around may notice this pattern in behavior and start getting worried. A doctor will be able to diagnose a patient at this stage.
Stage 4: Moderate Decline Stage
At this stage, dementia is at its peak, and patients may start to experience difficulties solving simple arithmetic, inability to manage finances due to forgetfulness; and short-term memory such as forgetting they took a bath earlier and what they had for lunch. Dementia patients at this stage may also forget some details about their early life.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline Stage
Persons at the stage usually need help with the execution of their daily activities. They may start dressing inappropriately, they may forget details about themselves such as their phone number, where they live and the type of car they drive. Dementia patients at this stage may also experience confusion frequently but they are still functional and can tend to themselves when they need to use the toilet and bathroom.
Stage 6: Severe Decline Stage
Persons in this stage are usually admitted into homes that can provide an all daycare and supervision for them. They start to wander, they lose bladder and bowel control, they need help using the toilet and bathroom, they cannot remember details about themselves such as having a family. Dementia patients at this stage start to experience changes in their personality, they have behavior problems, they experience the inability to recognize loved ones and generally get confused.
Stage 7: Extremely Severe Decline Stage
This is the last stage of dementia. People who are at this stage are close to death because dementia is a terminal disease that slowly eats at a person. Dementia patients at the last stage are unable to communicate, they have no idea about their condition and may be unable to swallow food and saliva.
Types of Dementia
There are different types of dementia which is why the symptoms depend on the type of dementia one is suffering from. Here are some types of dementia:
This is the most common type of dementia. The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is actually not known, however, studies show that the buildup of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain which is a physical change can cause Alzheimer’s disease. Persons who suffer from this disease from this disease may experience confusion, disorientation, memory loss, communication difficulties, paranoia, and anxiety.
This type of dementia can also be called post-stroke dementia or multi-infarct dementia which is caused by a brain bleed caused by a stroke. Persons who suffer from vascular dementia are usually treated and monitored to prevent further and future brain damage as dementia cannot be cured but only managed.
Lewy Body Dementia
This type of dementia can also be referred to as diffuse Lewy body disease or cortical Lewy body disease which is caused by the appearance of abnormal Lewy bodies protein in the nerve cells. Persons who suffer from Lewy body dementia may experience memory loss, hallucinations, delusions, difficulty sleeping, and frequent swings in alertness. Lewy body dementia cannot be cured but can be managed by therapies and treatments which may slow down the progression of the disease.
This type of dementia is quite rare. Frontotemporal dementia affects the behavior and emotional state of a person, unlike the other types that affect the cognitive function. Persons with this type of dementia do not experience memory loss, but they begin to have reduced empathy, apathy, loss of motivation, anxiety, depression, frequent and sequential compulsive behaviors, and increased display of inappropriate behavior. This happens because the frontal or temporal lobes responsible for emotion is either damaged or smaller in size.
Dementia is a deadly disease that does not only affect the body and physical well-being of a person, it also affects the cognitive and emotional state of a person. It gradually erases the essence of a person until the body is too weak to sustain the patient. Dementia is an incurable disease which can be managed and treated. Early detection and diagnosis may most likely increase one’s quality of life as one would immediately start undergoing therapies and treatments that may slow down the progression of the disease.