Dementia is a term used to describe widespread and increasing memory loss, often in regards to seniors. Much misinformation exists about dementia and the role it can play in an individual's life. Not only can dementia be a confusing diagnosis for the patient, it can also be a difficult diagnosis for family members to understand.
If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, better understanding its nature is helpful. This guide seeks to address many of the questions family members have.
What Symptoms Does Dementia Include?
Dementia is a broad term, which leads to misunderstandings in many ways. Many people do not realize that dementia is about much more than memory issues and confusion. The condition also encompasses symptoms like disorientation, loss of balance, misperception, personality changes, and behavioral problems. The symptoms of dementia are not typical for all aging individuals. Instead, this condition is the result of brain cells dying more quickly than usual.
What Causes Dementia?
Dementia is often caused by other conditions, like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. In other cases, it is linked to lifestyle and environmental factors. In some cases, dementia has a genetic component. Stroke and head injury also seem to correlate with dementia.
What Types of Dementia Exist?
Your loved one may be diagnosed with one of several types of dementia. Some are associated with other conditions, while others appear on their own. Huntington's disease is a genetic condition that tends to appear early in a person's life, often before the age of 50. Symptoms include slurred speech, weight loss, depression, and anxiety. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, and so people tend to be most familiar with its symptoms and treatment options.
Other forms dementia also exist, but they are typically less common.
What Are the Stages of Dementia?
Dementia typically occurs in three stages. The early stage often consists of confusion and short-term memory loss. The middle stage of dementia may include more questioning, tremors, difficulty with language skills, and even some difficulty completing daily tasks. The late stage is the most serious, leaving some patients comatose. This stage is associated with long-term memory loss, personality changes, and emotional instability.
While there is no cure for dementia at this time, doctors use every resource available to ensure that the stages do not progress more rapidly than necessary. Antidepressants, behavior modification therapy, medications, physical therapy, and other tools are commonplace.
Ultimately, developing an understanding of this condition will allow you to act with compassion for your loved one. If you have questions, medical professionals are often more than happy to answer them. Contact staff at facilities like The Independence Houses for more information.